New budget could include pay raises

Warren County departments kept their requests for more money in next year’s budget to a minimum in case they can get pay raises.

The Board of Supervisors recently heard from department representatives as officials consider the spending plan for fiscal 2016. County Administrator Douglas Stanley said Friday he asked departments, including the constitutional offices, to limit their spending requests.

“One of the things we told them, we’re trying to prioritize so that we can be able to give a salary increase this year,” Stanley said. “I think they did a good job in trying to keep their budgets down, trying to help the board be able to accomplish that goal.”

In addition to pay raises for government and school employees, goals for the next fiscal budget include maintaining the current levels of service and make progress on major projects such as the second middle school, Leach Run Parkway and Rockland Park. The county also would try to set aside $1 million to help cover the operational costs of running the second middle school once it opens. The county also can expect to pay $1.2 million in fiscal 2016 for its share of the debt payment on the Rappahannock-Shenandoah-Warren Regional Jail.

A few departments have asked for additional positions in the budget. Stanley said it’s too early to tell if the 2016 budget could include the proposed positions.

“I would definitely say that all the department heads … did a good job of showing the justification, the need for these positions,” Stanley said. “Ultimately, it will come down to whether or not we can afford to implement them all this year or not.”

Beth Reavis, director of the Department of Social Services, has asked for an assistant director and a benefits program specialist. Such positions would not start until halfway through the fiscal year in January.

Reavis plans to retire in the next few years, Stanley said.

“We don’t have a lot of depth in management [in the department] so one of things we’re looking to do is bring an assistant director on,” Stanley said. “The department’s gotten to the size where it can justify that.”

The department’s increasing caseload of people needing benefits also calls for another benefits specialist, Stanley added. Under the proposal, the director would earn $41,261 in the first half-year. The benefits specialist would earn $21,971 in the first half-year.

The Department of Fire and Rescue Services Chief Richard Mabie has asked for a full-time training officer at $67,892 for the year. Creating the position will save on overtime and part-time pay, Mabie has said.

The county also might change the following part-time positions to full time: A firefighter, a refuse disposal operator/technician, an employee in the Department of Finance and a maintenance worker in the Department of Parks and Recreation. The county also could add part-time positions in the Clerk of Circuit Court and in the finance department.

The board hasn’t begun its discussion about the proposed tax rates on real estate and other levies. Supervisors likely would start talking about taxes once they look at the revenue forecast for fiscal 2016, Stanley said. The board hears the requests from outside agencies and departments, then applies the revenue forecast to the budget picture.

Supervisors plan to meet with the School Board Tuesday to hear their budget request before looking at the overall spending plan.

Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or abridges@nvdaily.com