County budget process outlined

Published 6:55 pm Tuesday, March 26, 2019


The first public hearing for the Southampton County fiscal year 2020 budget took place during the Board of Supervisors meeting on Monday night. County Administrator Michael Johnson first sketched out the adoption procedures.

Following the preliminary projections and comment that night, Johnson will have a draft budget on Wednesday, April 3. Department presentations and requests will come on Wednesday, April 10 and 17, both at 6:30 p.m. Finalizing the budget will be around Monday, April 22, after which it’ll be advertised in The Tidewater News on Sunday, April 28. The second opportunity for public comment will be for the final draft on Monday, May 20. The adoption of the budget and tax rates is anticipated for Tuesday, May 28.

Projected revenue sources:

• State at $27.44M (43.93 percent)

• Federal at $2.67M (4.29 percent)

• Local at $32.35M with no taxes (1.78 percent) for $62.46M

The administrator further broke down some of the the numbers:

• General property taxes at $128,828K

• Revenue from the Commonwealth at $1.43M

• Real property taxes at $639,110 less than fiscal year 2019. That’s owing to the change of land values enacted by the Board of Equalization.

As for requests, in general and financial administration: $194,948, and much of that having to do with insurance.

Public safety at $690,361

Health and welfare at $184,150 for mandated services

School fund at $2.50M

Projected revenue at $62.46M

The shortfall is at -$1,99M

Money is needed for the local share of teacher raises and increases for bus drivers, as well as additional personnel for schools counselors, psychologists and bus aides. Further, liability insurance and health insurance for teacher are needed, and there is additional paid coverage for emergency services.

During the comment period, Linda Simmons of Courtland asked Johnson if the school division sends its justifications to him, to which he replied, “The school board simply tells us.”

Dr. Alan Edwards said that the school system sends are “wish items, mostly all the knowing they won’t get everything,” and then added that budget is vetted by the school board.

Johnson said the supervisors don’t have input in what the schools request.

Simmons said she was concerned about the need for a psychologist and counselors.

“That sends up red flags to me,” she added, referring not to the expense side but that such positions are needed.

Johnson noted that counselors are mandated, and Edwards added, “There are a lot of kids who need a lot of help.”

Carl Faison pointed out that school board meets monthly for people interested in how that organization operates. Fellow supervisor Barry Porter noted there have been two public hearings on the budget, to which, “Maybe five people showed up. We can’t tell the school board what it needs because of a mandated wall. They tell us what they need.”

Albert Charity, representing both himself and his family said that as far as counselors go, “There is a need. Not just one part-time. You need two … that’s coming from a parent.”