Dialogue key in budget process

Published 10:08 am Wednesday, May 18, 2016

To the Editor:

I would like to take the opportunity to commend all those involved in our budget process this year. In my opinion, it went exceptionally well and produced an excellent outcome.

Our dialogue with the schools, and in particular Dr. Thornton, started back last year and continued in a consistent vein throughout.

These discussions were both honest and productive, as we both understood the challenges the schools were facing as well as the need to minimize tax implications. Though we did not grant the entire request, we did fund to a satisfactory level. Thank you schools.

In addition, due to growth, our public safety is undergoing increasing demands. Sheriff Marshall initially requested an additional five deputies, but worked with the board towards a phase-in approach of two deputies this year and perhaps the same next year. Thank you Sheriff Marshall and your team.

Mr. Wanner, our interim County Administrator, initially presented a budget involving a 3 cent tax increase. The Board tasked him to present a revised budget involving from less of an increase to no increase. Mr. Wanner delivered in proposing a budget of integrity with no tax increase. Thank you Mr. Wanner.

Our Board, though mostly new, asked excellent questions in many areas as we all grappled with, first, understanding the budget, and second, how to adjust the budget to best suit the needs of our citizenry.

Our discussions were fruitful, honest, probing and insightful. Thank you fellow Board members.

We met our objectives of funding the schools, addressing law enforcement challenges and supporting all other departments and agencies, all without a tax increase.

In addition, three years ago, we were operating at a 7 million dollar deficit, the difference being made up in the unassigned fund balance. Next fiscal year, for the first time in my 5 year tenure, we will draw no funds from the unassigned fund balance. None. Much of this is due to the previous Board and staff’s effort to this end. Thank you.

Our financial future looks bright. I am convinced it is this Board’s desire to keep it that way. We value your comments as we work towards a safe, enriching, bountiful future for Isle of Wight County.

Rex Alphin
Chairman, IOW Board of Supervisors