Supervisors kick off budget talks

FRONT ROYAL – Budget season is underway with the Board of Supervisors beginning discussions Tuesday with outside agencies.

The board met in a work session with the health department, economic development authority, Northwestern Community Services, and the Shenandoah Area Agency on Aging.

All of the outside agencies were asked to request no budget increases, as the supervisors aim for no real estate tax increase. Last year, a 3-2 vote passed a budget that included a real estate tax increase from 62 cents to 65 cents per $100 of assessed value. It was the fourth consecutive year of an increase.

Board Chairman Tony Carter explained that the upcoming budget year would be “very tough.”

The economic development authority requested $522,338. That is a $37,600 increase for payment of the New Market tax credit program being used for construction at Ressie Jeffries Elementary School.

“The EDA feels the justification for this request is represented by the activities we are involved in and the continuing efforts to create jobs and tax base for the community,” states the agency’s written request.

Lord Fairfax Health District requested $348,747, a $48,669 increase. District Administrator Chris Petsko said the main reason for the bump is an effort to increase salaries and benefits. Carter noted that if the state increases its 52 percent share of the budget, the county must accordingly adjust its 42 percent contribution.

The Shenandoah Area Agency on Aging requested steady funding of $54,000. The agency last year served 538 county families. It provided 10,999 meals, 1,307 personal care hours, and in-home care to 183 citizens. Executive Director Linda Holtzapple said the agency’s primary goal is keeping senior citizens at home instead of nursing facilities.

Northwestern Community Services requested level funding of $303,298. The services it provides includes a year-round crisis emergency team, outpatient doctor services, and school programs.

The supervisors’ next budget work session with all county departments and constitutional officers will be 9 p.m. Feb. 13 in the Warren County Government Center caucus room. The budget is scheduled for approval at the board’s April 17 meeting.