After working on its budget since late January, the Pulaski County Board of Supervisors Monday night approved the county’s budget for 2019-20.
The spending plan totals $131,260,124 in total funds, including $51,335,476 in the General Fund.
“It is important to note the hard work the Board of Supervisors put into this budget,” stated County Administrator Jonathan Sweet prior to the board voting unanimously to approve it.
Sweet noted the board received $55,051,564 in budget requests, but only had $49,558,841 in revenues.
“The board had to cut 22.3 percent or $5,492,723 to reach a balanced budget this year,” Sweet said.
Sweet reviewed some of the key parts of the budget.
Most importantly was the new budget included no tax increases.
The real estate and mobile home tax rate holds steady at 77 cents per $100 of assessed value. The tangible personal property tax rate remains at $2.35 per $100 of assessed value. The machinery and tool tax rate remains at $1.50 per $100 of assessed value.
Sweet said the budget includes funds for raises for Constitutional Offices, school board employees and county employees; 5 new school security positions; additional funds for the next step in the International Baccalaureate program at the high school; 2.5 additional dispatchers in the 911 Communication Center to keep citizens safe; purchase of one ambulance at a cost of $260,000 as the number of rescue calls increase; first half of reassessment contract; first year of ACCE program; funds for a revenue sharing project to realign Hatcher Road to provide safe entrance to the new middle school, investments in park improvements, updating 911 Communication Center equipment, significant improvements to the NRV Fairgrounds including renovation of the Farris Building, AC upgrades, grandstand upgrades and repair and upgrades to rest room facilities, $6 million-plus in school debt payments, and funding for a long list of local agencies and organizations such as Fairview Home, Beans and Rice, New River Community Action, the Free Clinic, United Way, Fine Arts Center, Friends of Pulaski Theatre, Literacy Volunteers and several more.
Prior to the board’s vote, Chairman Andy McCready addressed the issue of taxes.
“We had to follow the wishes of the voters last year and raise tax rates from 64 cents up to 77 cents to make the payment on the middle school,” McCready said. “My sincere hope is that with continued economic development growth, we will be able to lower that tax rate some. I do not believe it will continue to have to stay there if we continue to get good, solid economic development growth. It is my hope that we can lower the tax rate as more economic development comes our way.”
A VDOT representative told the supervisors Monday night that mowing secondary roads in the area is underway and the plan is to have all secondary roadways mowed by July 4. Even though out of VDOT’s five mowers in the area, two are broken down, but they are supposed to be up and running again soon.
He also noted a traffic impact study is underway on the county’s Hatcher Road revenue sharing project with VDOT.
McCready asked the VDOT rep about the need to take some action on the U-turns at the entrance of Newbern Heights along Route 611 near the intersection with Cougar Trail.
“We’ve got a real problem there with cars that are coming out of Volvo. They want to go left, so they turn right, pull into Newbern Heights – do a U-turn and take off. Can we put up a ‘no U-turn sign through 5 p.m.’ or something like that,” McCready asked.
“It’s getting worse as we have more employment there,” he added.
The supervisors again voted to approve a resolution sending $100,000 to the New River Community College Foundation as matching funds for the college’s Access to Community College Education program.
The supervisors approved a pricing contract with Wampler-Eanes Appraisal Group Ltd. for the upcoming property reassessment.
Sweet reported that he and Commissioner of the Revenue Donna Gray had negotiated a per parcel rate of $15.75 with Wampler-Eanes providing a full walk-around of each property. The mobile home rate was negotiated to $8 per mobile home.
Sweet said the reassessment will include 27,551 parcels at a cost of $434,000, and $7,200 for 900 mobile homes for a total cost of $441,000. Sweet said the per parcel rate began at $17, then went to $16.25 before the rate of $15.75 was agreed upon.
“I’d like to thank the commissioner of revenue for assisting in this process,” said Sweet. “We continued working until the price got to $15.75 and we saved the county $34,448,” he continued.
“Reassessment will produce some natural revenue growth based on everyone’s property being worth more because it’s worth more quite frankly,” Sweet added.
“Wampler-Eanes did good job before, and I feel comfortable with them doing it again. They know the area,” Gray said.
Supervisors voted unanimously to establish the Pulaski County Emergency Medical Services Department. So now, emergency medical services will fall under county control rather than REMSI.
Sweet explained that bringing emergency medical services under county administration will serve citizens and employees better and help control costs.
“It’s the way other localities around us operate,” Sweet said.
“Pulaski County already sends money to REMSI to help provide coverage because their income isn’t enough to cover all the calls,” McCready said.
“When REMSI was originally set up it was called “regional” because the hope was other localities would join, but they didn’t, and it was always just Pulaski County.”
Supervisors honored Deputy Douglas A. (Alan) Anderson with tokens of appreciation as he retires June 30 after 25 years of service.
Sweet’s Employment Agreement Renewed
The supervisors voted unanimously to approve a four-year renewal of Sweet’s employment agreement.
“We are very happy to offer a four-year contract renewal,” McCready told Sweet Monday night.
“We are very pleased with all the activities he has undertaken for us. From economic development to fine tuning some areas to budget transparency, we’ve placed a heavy workload on you, and you have responded,” McCready said.
“We are incredibly pleased with your work. You have traveled when we asked you. Traveled on holidays. We’ve sent you to Washington, Richmond and other places that will bear fruit in our various development. We are extremely pleased with your communication and work for us,” McCready added.
Cloyd Supervisor Joe Guthrie echoed McCready’s comments.
“We appreciate all your efforts and the results speak for themselves in the things we have begun seeing and that we will continue to see. We appreciate that you want to remain in Pulaski County,” Guthrie said.
Draper Supervisor Dean Pratt said the board “Appreciates the way you are getting stuff done,” recalling the county’s slogan of last year.
Sweet said he is pleased to serve the Board of Supervisors and county citizens and to serve along with “One of the greatest staffs in local government.”
“I couldn’t choose a better locality in the Commonwealth for which to serve,” he said.
Sweet’s annual salary is $162,978.
By MIKE WILLIAMS, The Patriot
(PHOTO) Deputy Douglas A. (Alan) Anderson is congratulated by Supervisors Chairman Andy McCready during Monday night’s Board of Supervisors meeting. Anderson was recognized by the board for 25 years of service to the county. Anderson retires June 30. With them are Anderson’s family, Draper Supervisor Dean Pratt and Sheriff Mike Worrell. (Mike Williams photo)