Southampton County budget public hearing set
Published 6:09 pm Thursday, May 11, 2023
The Southampton County Board of Supervisors will be holding a public hearing Monday, May 15, to hear input regarding the proposed $89,090,551 budget for fiscal year 2023-24, as well as the proposed FY 2024 fees and tax levies.
PROPOSED TAX RATES
It is proposed that the real estate tax rate remain the same at 89 cents per $100 of assessed value.
It is also proposed that the personal property tax rate under the categories of general and public service corporations increases from $4.60 to $4.70 per $100 of assessed value. There is also a proposed 10-cent increase in the farm machinery/single product category, from $1.15 to $1.25.
All other categories of personal property have proposed rates that are unchanged from FY 2023.
WHY THE BUDGET HAS GROWN
The proposed $89 million budget represents a 24.37% increase compared to the 2022-23 budget, which totaled $71,635,331.
The biggest reason for this increase can be found in the Building Fund, which is proposed to grow from more than $2.7 million in the FY 22-23 budget to more than $17.3 million for FY 23-24 — a 534.27% increase.
Explaining the increase, Southampton Deputy County Administrator and Chief Financial Officer Lynette C. Lowe said, “It is due to projects. So, of course, we’ve got the courthouse project going on, which is the most significant, and then we have a public safety radio system, that project is going on.
“A lot of times, if it’s just a one-year project and it’s something that’s just going to come up during the year and we’re not pulling in taxpayer money to pay it, meaning we’ve got bond money that we draw down, we usually don’t even put those projects in there,” she added. “But we’re in a multi-year project with the courthouse, so we thought it was important to put that in there so everybody knows where we are with that project.”
FUNDING FOR THE SCHOOLS
The proposed local funding for Southampton County Public Schools is $12,604,194, which includes operating money and debt service money, Lowe stated.
She explained that compared to the FY 22-23 budget, this total represents a $100,000 decrease, coming from the operating fund.
In its initial presentation to the Board of Supervisors on April 12, SCPS had requested a more than $3.1 million increase in local funding compared to FY 22-23, resulting in a total request of $15,885,665.
Including state and federal funding, SCPS is proposed to receive $37,878,694 from the county’s FY 23-24 budget. This is down 4.25% from the total in the FY 22-23 budget of $39,559,322.
“In fiscal year 23, there were still funds in there that the state had supplied to help with learning loss due to the previous year with COVID, and (the state) did not give that money this year,” Lowe said.
However, she emphasized that the state has not yet passed its final budget, so the final numbers from the state with regard to funds for SCPS are yet to be determined. The county and school division used the Virginia House of Delegates’ proposed budget as a model because it was a mid-range compromise compared to the governor’s and Virginia Senate’s proposed budgets.
For water, it is proposed that the monthly residential base rate, equal to or less than 4,000 gallons, increases from $29 to $31. The same is proposed for the monthly commercial base rate, equal to or less than 4,000 gallons. Once 4,000 gallons is exceeded, it is proposed that the monthly rate per 1,000 gallons beyond that increases from $7 to $9.
For sewer, it is proposed that the monthly residential base rate, equal to or less than 4,000 gallons, increases from $37 to $39. The same is proposed for the monthly commercial base rate, equal to or less than 4,000 gallons. Once 4,000 gallons is exceeded, it is proposed that the monthly rate per 1,000 gallons beyond that increases from $9 to $11.
Under building permit fees, the re-inspection fee is proposed to increase from $50 to $80.
The proposed solid waste management fee and all ambulance fees are unchanged from FY 2023.
The May 15 public hearing will be held in the Board of Supervisors Meeting Room in the Southampton County Office Center, which is located at 26022 Administration Center Drive in Courtland. The hearing will begin at 6 p.m.