IW Supervisors discuss budget, permits

Published 10:22 am Friday, April 7, 2017

The Isle of Wight County Board of Supervisors reviewed the county’s central permitting process and discussed its proposed fiscal year 2017-2018 operating and capital budgets during a work session on Wednesday.

The proposed operating budget for the coming fiscal year specifies a total of $72.4 million for the county’s General Fund revenues and expenditures. The proposed capital budget specifies $16.3 million and, according to County Administrator Randy Keaton, fully funds anticipated capital expenditures for the coming year.

According to Keaton, both budgets specify no tax increases except for machinery and tools, a 10 percent reduction in the county’s stormwater fee, a 5 percent increase in water and sewer rates and a $1 million increase in revenues.

It also includes a flat budget for Isle of Wight County Schools and the Western Tidewater Regional Jail.

“This budget is pretty flat if you take out the capital projects,” Keaton said. “This budget wouldn’t be possible if we hadn’t gotten the flat budget from the schools, that really makes this possible this year.”

Assistant County Administrator Don Robertson added that the proposed budget includes the first annual $750,000 reduction to the school division’s budget to pay back the county for taking on debt service to fund renovations to the county’s two high schools. This number, he said, will not change regardless of how the Board ultimately votes following the public hearing on the debt service proposal, even though at the Board’s previous meeting they had voted to offer $7.9 million in debt service rather than the $10 million the division had originally requested.

Robertson said the only terms of the debt service agreement that might change following the public hearing are the total amount of debt service the county takes on and the amount of time it will take the school division to pay it off.

Keaton said that staffing adjustments for the upcoming fiscal year specify nine new positions, including two sheriff’s deputies, two commonwealth’s attorney positions, one solid waste supervisor, two maintenance positions and two public utilities positions.

The county will also eliminate three unfilled positions that had been budgeted in prior years – one assistant county attorney, one web coordinator and one maintenance position.

Salary and benefits for county employees during the coming fiscal year will include a 2 percent cost of living adjustment for all employees plus a 1 percent raise to be awarded based on merit. The total cost of the county’s health insurance will increase by $222,000, $193 of which will be absorbed by the county, with the remaining 5 percent passed on to employees.

Smithfield District Supervisor Dick Grice said that he had read that the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics had calculated the nationwide cost of living increase for the coming fiscal year to be around 0.3 percent and questioned if the 2 percent increase specified in the budget was more of a raise.

“I happen to be a big advocate of rewarding people on a merit basis; I am not an advocate of pay raises just because you’re there,” he said.

The work session also included a presentation by Robertson on the county’s central permitting office, which he said was established in 2014 with the intention of being a one-stop shop for both residential and commercial customers to obtain permits.

Robertson presented flow charts of the steps an applicant and the county staff must take to complete a permit and said that there had been several citizen concerns that the process was still not as efficient as it could be.

Those concerns were, namely, that the process is still confusing, expensive and business-unfriendly.

He added that the county’s permitting staff began meeting in January to attempt to address these concerns, and is continuing to work through the issues they and citizens have identified.

The next meeting of the board will be on April 20 at 6 p.m. in the board room of the county courthouse complex.