Supervisors vow not to raises taxes for school district

Published 9:22 am Thursday, February 16, 2012

COURTLAND—Three Southampton County supervisors during a Wednesday meeting with the School Board vowed not to raise property taxes to fund the school’s 2012-13 proposed $28.9 million budget.

“I admire what you are doing,” Franklin District Supervisor Barry Porter told the School Board during its first-ever joint meeting with Supervisors to discuss the budget. “We are in survival mode. We have one the highest personal property taxes in the state and some of the lowest incomes. That’s toxic. We need a way to accommodate both.”

Supervisors Glenn Updike and Dr. Alan Edwards concurred.

“The citizens out there are going through the same thing,” said Updike, who represents the Newsoms District. “I will not vote for any increase on taxes on our citizens. We are going to have to cut the budget without exception.”

“This is a different time,” added Edwards, the Jerusalem District representative. “You will have to do the same good job with less. That’s just the bottom line.”

The school district’s preliminary operating budget with its current 520 employees, of which 232 are teachers, is $2.8 million more than this year’s spending plan. An additional $2.7 million is needed to fund it.

The district expects the state to cover 56 percent of the budget, local dollars, 38 percent, and the federal government the remaining 6 percent.

Superintendent Charles Turner proposed a plan for the retirement fund that would save the district $530,709, which Porter called a “starting point.”

Porter then suggested school officials come up with more options for supervisors.

“I don’t think we can give anymore than last year,” he said. “We commend you for a good job. There’s no question, we have the best schools in the area. We just don’t know how we can fund it without getting some magic money.”

It was noted that on average, $11,020 is spent annually to educate a student in Virginia. In Southampton County the cost is $10,391, of which $3,482 comes from local funding.

A Southampton teacher with no experience starts at $37,745 a year, which is the second lowest in Hampton Roads. Franklin is the lowest at $36,000. A teacher with 20 years experience earns $42,481 annually in Southampton County, which is the lowest in the region.

The school district offers two health insurance plans. The cheaper of the two costs $912 annually for a single person and $11,028 for a family.