Gloucester budget approved without tax increase
The Gloucester Board of Supervisors unanimously adopted the county’s $62.76 million general fund operating budget for fiscal year 2018 Monday night without a tax increase for residents.
The budget fully funds requests from both the Gloucester and Abingdon Volunteer Fire and Rescue squads and the Gloucester Sheriff’s Office, but fell short of providing the $2.4 million local contribution requested in school superintendent Walter Clemons’s proposed budget. The schools did receive an increase of $601,000, compared to the current budget.
Gloucester’s adopted budget also provides a 1 percent, one-time bonus for both county and school system employees if fiscal year 2017 operating results for both the county and school system can support it.
“This is not a bare-bones budget,” said board chairman Phillip Bazzani. “This is a right budget. This is a responsible budget … I hear a collective sigh of relief from our retirees in the community who will not have to dig deeper into their pockets” to pay for an increase.
During a budget work session last Thursday night, Gloucester Point district supervisor Chris Hutson voiced some concern over not providing the school system with additional funding. Hutson said he had been speaking with several school board members. “They’re going to make decisions (to deal) with different funding issues that are going to affect everyone in the schools,” he said.
“We’ve given them 25 percent more during the last decade,” at-large supervisor Ashley Chriscoe responded.
There was also a tense moment during that work session when Bazzani asked Ware district supervisor Andy James if he thought the volunteer fire and rescue squads could make do with $300,000 of additional local funding instead of the $382,000 the departments had asked for.
“I know very well this is an election year and you’re trying not to raise taxes,” James said. Bazzani responded that that was not the case and he was trying to look after the taxpayers in the county. “Don’t impugn my integrity over that,” Bazzani said.