No tax, fee increases in Ashcraft’s proposed budget

 By: Michael Campbell | Twitter: @itsthesoup
Posted: February 26, 2019 | 8:05 p.m.

Proposed budget does not include funding for elementary school

PRINCE GEORGE – Prince George County leaders got their first look at County Administrator Percy Ashcraft’s proposed budget for the coming year Tuesday evening, which features no tax or fee increases during the 2020 fiscal year.

According to Ashcraft, all tax rates, including real estate and personal property will remain the same as they are now when the new financial year starts on July 1, keeping the county’s real estate tax rate at 86 cents per $100 of assessed value.

Many residents had kept close watch on what the proposed budget could hold when it comes to tax rates as discussions of constructing a new elementary school and how it would affect county taxpayers were active throughout 2018, with talks slowing recently as a location for the proposed school remains up in the air. When asked prior to the meeting, Ashcraft said he was instructed by supervisors to construct the proposed budget without including the elementary school.

“I was directed by the Board, since there was no decision on the location, to not include it until such time both boards can decide where it will go and how much it is going to cost,” he said, adding that the five cent real estate tax rate increase that was proposed, then scrapped last year, “would not fund the school right now,” which is currently estimated at over $30 million.

Proposed Budget highlights:

  • No tax increases, no fee increases, including county water, sewer customers
  • Nearly $400,000 is recommended to for employee salary increases and funding part of the county’s recent salary study
    • $1,000 increase for employees with salaries less than $50,000 | Two-percent increase for employees with salaries between $50,000-$100,000 | $2,000 increase for employees with salaries over $100,000
  • Health insurance premiums for employees will remain unchanged; county will absorb expected increase
  • Funding the school division at $16.6 million based on a revised Memorandum of Understanding that supervisors approved in the fall of 2018
  • Funds volunteer programs at $5,732,720, which includes direct contributions from the County; funds through the Department of Fire & EMS budget; SAFER grant amounts; and special programs such as Line of Duty Act and Length of Service Awards Program
  • Reinstates the five-person Social Services Board to oversee operations instead of the County Administrator
  • No funding for capital projects within the FY2020 budget, except for $400,000 as part of the ongoing law enforcement vehicle replacement program and $160,761 for additional equipment within the General Fund

The Prince George Journal will have a complete breakdown of the budget in the next edition of the newspaper, on newsstands March 6 and online.

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