IOW budget moving on

Published 8:59 am Saturday, May 5, 2012

The Isle of Wight Board of Supervisors has taken an additional step in moving the budget for 2012-13 to finality.

It was decided at our last meeting to publicly advertise a budget, though in all likelihood, it will not be the final budget. State law allows localities to adjust the budget after the public hearings, but it can only be adjusted downward.

We encourage anyone with concerns to voice his opinion. We will be taking comment on the school budget and operating budget of the county on May 10 at 7 p.m.

The board must wait seven days after public comment before acting.

Likewise, we will be taking public comment on the capital improvement plan and approving it after the required waiting period.

As I am sure, our neighboring localities will agree this has been a challenging process. Just last week we received information from the state as to its funding requirements.

It was difficult to move forward on the budget without this information. As you may know, the state is requiring additional funds from counties to shore up the Virginia Retirement System. The fund, which was operating at a surplus as recently as 2008, is now, due to the economy, in a deficit mode.

The state is concerned the funds will not be available for retirees in the system, which includes all county and school staff. The schools will take a $1.5 to $2 million hit while the county looks at a $500,000 payment.

This greatly strains the present revenues of most all counties, including Isle of Wight.

The board is working diligently to curtail any tax increase. We are looking at some one-time creative revenue streams including proceeds from unused bond funds, selling certain county properties and drawing from our unassigned fund balance.

Our goal is to not jeopardize essential county services, including our law enforcement, fire and rescue services and exemplary educational system. Our school board is likewise working with us to cut expenses while minimizing educational deficiencies.

By my next column, we should have a budget. Between now and then will be some heated discourse, intriguing debate and, hopefully, an end result that reflects out values as a community.

In closing, let me say the events that transpired recently in southern Isle of Wight have been difficult for us all. Joe and Sandy Joyner have been involved citizens for years and their loss will be dear. Our prayers go out to the Joyner family as they deal with this crisis.

I agree with The Tidewater News’ excellent editorial in saying that such times give opportunity for us, as a community, to pull together, support the Joyner family, and reaffirm those things in our own lives that give substance to life.

Rex Alphin is an Isle of Wight County Supervisor for the Carrsville District and can be reached at