Wow! Some good news from the Board of Supervisors for a change!
The Board of Supervisors Finance Committee met last week to vote on the preliminary fiscal guidance they would provide the County Administrator in creating the FY16 budget. The last two years, this guidance was to decrease the tax rate to an equalized rate (where the average homeowner would see no tax increase on their increased property value) and to also look at an option of decreasing the tax rate even further, either two or three cents.
This year was different. Broad Run Supervisor Shawn Williams proposed that next year the budget should start with the current tax rate of $1.155, with the option of decreasing the tax rate to the projected equalized rate of $1.13. The motion passed with little comment. And with that, the needle was moved a bit in our direction.
Overall, however, the financial picture at the current tax rate is still grim. The schools would receive only a $36.2 million increase over last year's budget at the $1.155 rate. We need approximately $53.1 million just to maintain the status quo and provide the promised step increases on the newly adopted salary scale. That would mean we are starting $16.9 million in the hole without any improvements or restoration of cuts from the prior years. Based on our real needs, we could be looking at a needed increase of $90 million. It is preliminary though, and much better than the projected deficits of the last few years.
The takeaway from all this? We can make a difference. Keep up the pressure! It's working!