Board hears pleas for funding at hearing

FRONT ROYAL – School supporters and other agency officials asked Warren County leaders Tuesday to keep their needs in mind in next year’s budget.

The Board of Supervisors held a public hearing to gather input on the creation of the fiscal 2017 budget. The hearing comes early in the process as supervisors and county officials continue to look at spending priorities and estimated revenue projections. The board must still hold a hearing on the proposed budget and tax rates.

The board heard first from Kim Oakland, a teacher at Ressie Jeffries Elementary School and president of the Warren County Education Association, and Superintendent Greg Drescher. They expressed the need for the school system to have competitive salaries.

Bill Crawford, chairman of the Social Services Advisory Board, asked supervisors to consider funding the entire Department of Social Services request, citing the agency’s work.

“I certainly encourage you to adopt the DSS request and I think everybody here knows that what we ask them to do is enormous,” Crawford said. “From getting phone calls in the middle of the night from law enforcement stating that they need to find homes for children whose parents have just been arrested to providing $60 or $70 worth of food stamps for elderly folks living on $600 or $700 a month so they can have adequate food; helping a single mother transition to the work force; providing nutritional support to infants of impoverished families, transporting foster children to the doctor – the list goes on and on to the tune of about 1,200 people a month that need help to walk through those doors.”

The agency also faces the challenge of keeping its employees who might leave to work for higher pay in other localities, Crawford added.

Happy Creek District Supervisor Tony Carter said he suggested the board hold the hearing as a way to gather more input from the public on the budget. The board also allows the public to speak on the subject at its regular meetings. The public also can attend the board’s work sessions on the budget.

Vice Chairman Archie Fox, supervisor for the Fork District, said the board has addressed the building needs of the school system and other county departments. Fox said the board’s next challenge would be to meet the personnel needs of the various agencies as well as upgrades to their buildings.

Supervisors plan to hold a work session at 9 a.m. Tuesday to continue their budget discussions, this time to focus on the School Board’s funding request. Supervisors have one more work session scheduled for March 8 before they hold a special meeting March 22 during which they intend to pick a proposed budget and tax rates the county would advertise for the required public hearing, likely on April 12. The board plans to approve next year’s budget on April 19.

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