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The King George Board of Supervisors recently dealt with several financial issues with short- and long-term implications.

First is the fiscal year 2020 proposed budget of $85.3 million, a 4.23 percent increase from the current spending plan. After County Administrator Neiman Young factored in school requests, which account for 56 percent of the budget, and all county departments, the proposal came up $68,832 short of funds.

Young asked supervisors if they wanted to increase the tax rate—of 70 cents per $100 of assessed real estate value—by a penny or move funds from another source.

Each penny on the tax rate produces $270,000. Supervisor Ruby Brabo asked why King George couldn’t increase a fraction of a cent, the way other counties do.

“To be frank, our accounting system is archaic and doesn’t allow us to do portions,” Young said, adding that he’s included a new accounting program in the capital improvements plan.

Supervisors will move funds to make up the difference, so the fiscal 2020 budget includes no tax rate increase. Residents can offer their comments on the budget during a public hearing Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. at the King George Department of Fire, Rescue and Emergency Services Company 1 building on State Route 3.

The proposed budget includes money to reduce county debt; pay increases for teachers, county employees and Board of Supervisors members; a 12.5 percent increase in health insurance for county workers and seven new special education positions and three new county positions.

MONEY FOR SEWER STUDY

While the King George County Service Authority is a self-supporting agency, with user fees covering operations, the county will help when there’s a threat to public safety. It already plans to allocate about $400,000 to replace the well house at Ninde’s Store and to do some work on pump stations, which move sewage to wastewater treatment plants.

A more thorough study is needed of the stations, said Service Authority General Manager Jonathon Weakley. He asked the county for another $35,000 for an engineering report that will detail how the county can get its pump stations in compliance with the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality.

The DEQ wants the county’s plan of action by Dec. 4.

The county has 35 pump stations, and 31 are not in compliance with state regulations. Of the 31, 12 have the most serious problems, and the engineering report will focus on their fixes. The Service Authority staff should be able to address the minor problems at the 19 other stations, Weakley said.

KEEPING OPTIONS OPEN

King George continues to pay $4,000 a year to maintain an option to purchase the Mount View property, also known as the Taylor farm. It’s next to the King George Industrial Park and was considered for purchase in 2008 when Harris Teeter Inc. planned to build a 500,000-square-foot facility there. Then, the economy soured, and the project was scrapped.

But the property may still “accommodate potential economic development projects,” Young said.

On that topic, King George is spending $10,000 on a study that looks at the impact proposed subdivisions or businesses would have on county services.

NO CHECKS AND BALANCES

For county employees to get paid, the human resources department enters information into the system, then its payroll department processes the actual payroll. That’s how things should be done, according to the county’s auditor, but that’s not taking place on the school side.

One county employee enters both pieces of information for school employees, meaning there’s no oversight to keep that individual from committing fraud or embezzlement, Young said.

For six years, auditors have suggested the practice should stop, and the Board of Supervisors authorized the staff to cease providing HR support to the schools after June 1. That’s when the county employee who currently does the school work is retiring, and Young suggested a clean break.

School Superintendent Rob Benson said it might be a hardship to find someone who can do the work by June 1, and supervisors said they could probably provide him a little more time.

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Cathy Dyson: 540/374-5425

cdyson@freelancestar.com

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