Franklin County supervisors voted to advertise a $143.8 million budget that keeps tax rates the same for fiscal year 2019-20. A public hearing on the budget is scheduled for April 16 before supervisors’ final vote April 23.
Approximately 20 years ago at this time, supervisors were looking at a budget of just $65.8 million.
The county grew by 9,000 residents from 2000 and to 2010. New homes and commercial investments added to the county’s budget, which was proposed at $123.8 million in 2009. Growth has plateaued.
In 1999, spending on Franklin County Schools made up approximately 70 percent of the county’s expenditures at $46 million. The proposed budget in 2009 showed $81.2 million budgeted for schools.
In the budget proposed for next fiscal year, spending on schools only make up 61 percent of the county’s expenditures at $87.4 million. This year, the schools division requested $3.8 million more in county taxpayer money than last year. That additional money is not included in the budget supervisors voted to advertise.
Public safety is the second highest county expense. In 1999, public safety accounted for 8 percent of the budget. Now it accounts for 11 percent.
Health and welfare now accounts for 10 percent of the county budget, covering items such as the health department, social services, aging services and the much talked-about Children’s Services Act costs. Passed in 1993, the state Children Services Act provides tax money to aid at-risk children and their families. County costs under that law have been growing. Assistant County Administrator Chris Whitlow said he has reached out to a consulting group that helped Pittsylvania County to explore savings.
Capital expenditures under the advertised budget for next fiscal year total about $20 million and include expenses such as fire equipment, vehicle replacements and the closing of the landfill at a cost of $3.5 million. The bulk of the capital expenditures are at Summit View Business Park with slightly more than $11 million budgeted for the site, though $8 million of that cost is covered by borrowed money.
In 1999, capital expenditures made up less than $2.8 million of the county’s expenditures. Health and welfare costs were approximately $3.5 million, public safety costs were less than $5 million and judicial costs were around $1.2 million. Judicial costs have doubled to nearly $3 million.
This year’s proposed budget includes slightly less than $2.3 million for recreation. In 1999, the proposed budget for recreation, which included community development and non-departmental costs, was $4.5 million. Community development now has its own section in the budget at more than $2.9 million.
Real estate taxes in 1999 were 55 cents per $100 of assessed value and personal property tax was $1.67 per $100 assessed value.
The current real estate tax in the county is 61 cents per $100 of assessed value, and the personal property tax rate is $2.46 per $100of assessed value following last year’s increases.
Let’s hope tax rates don’t rise again for a while, but given inflating costs, it is not a question of if, but when.