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Stafford County supervisors will consider three versions of the fiscal 2012-13 budget at Tuesday's meeting.
They hope to come to agreement to adopt both the budget and the 2012 tax rate, two weeks later than planned.
The three members of the finance, audit and budget committee couldn't compromise on a version to send to the full Board of Supervisors for discussion.
"We're really not that far off here," Board Chairman Susan Stimpson said at the Thursday night committee meeting.
The board delayed adopting a budget and tax rate at the April 17 meeting, citing unknowns in local funding in the state budget, which was approved the following day.
Supervisors Stimpson, Cord Sterling and Bob Thomas debated a handful of line items in County Administrator Anthony Romanello's proposed $246 million budget, along with other requests that have come up since early March.
Many of the issues concerned what the board has set as its priorities: education, public safety and economic development.
A handful of positions within the public safety category were discussed.
The proposed budget includes funds for three additional full-time deputies for court security. The public safety committee also recommended adding four full-time supervisory positions within the emergency communications center.
Sterling hoped that with the May departure of Fire Chief Rob Brown, the county would see savings by appointing an assistant chief to fill the role on an interim basis.
Sterling also suggested cutting the funding to partner agencies, which include both regional entities and nonprofit community groups.
Community agencies, including the Fredericksburg Area Food Bank, Rappahannock Big Brothers Big Sisters, Rappahannock Emergency Medical Services Council and Hope House, would see a $56,000 decrease, while overall, the funding for other partner agencies would increase by $144,000.
This is accounted for with a $200,000 increase to the county's Economic Development Authority.
"If we're making cuts in other parts of the budget can we really increase partner agencies as a whole by $144,000? I recognize that some of those things go toward what some people have as priorities," Sterling said. "If we're going to increase some of those accounts, then should we be decreasing others?"
The proposed budget also splits the county's real-estate recordation fees between schools and transportation.
Stimpson proposed transferring all of the possible $715,000 to schools, while Sterling said he would not compromise on removing it from transportation, where the funds have traditionally been used.
On Tuesday, the School Board will also meet to discuss the impact of the state's changes to funding the Virginia Retirement System.
The state had been providing employee contributions for retirement, but starting this year, localities are responsible for covering that cost, which is 5 percent of employees' salaries.
Also, supervisors on the committee were hung up on the local transfer to the schools, and how to account for the raises that the School Board had hoped for.
One suggestion was to delay raises by six months, to January, which is when county employees' raises go into effect.
The proposed fiscal 2013 budget had included a $4 million increase to schools.
"I don't want to give $500,000 more to the schools, when we're giving them almost all our new revenue," Stimpson said. "I would like to give some of that back to the taxpayer."
She wants to cut the real estate tax rate by 1 cent from the proposed rate of $1.08 per $100 of assessed value.
Not all board members have stated their opinions on the tax rate, though there have been suggestions to cut a fraction of a penny in order to achieve a balanced budget.
Also at Tuesday's meeting, supervisors will likely enact an emergency ordinance to extend the due dates for county taxes to June 19.
Typically, mid-year taxes are due June 5, but because bills will be going out later than normal this year because of the delayed adoptions, county officials want to ensure residents have a 30-day payment window.
Katie Thisdell: 540/735-1975