Supervisors scheduled to adopt budget Tuesday
The Gloucester County Board of Supervisors is scheduled to adopt its $108.4 million FY 2012 budget Tuesday night in the colonial courthouse.
The proposed budget is balanced, with a real estate tax rate of 58 cents and a personal property tax rate of $2.60, both per $100 of assessed value, figures that remain unchanged from the current rates.
However, supervisors voted by a 5-2 margin last month to advertise a real estate tax rate of 61 cents, a three-cent increase, to allow flexibility in budget preparations.
All other tax rates have remained advertised at the same level where they are currently set.
Supervisors spent a good deal of time Tuesday night discussing a request made by supervisors Michelle Ressler (at-large) and Gregory Woodard (Ware) to take away some of the $45,000 allocated to the Gloucester-Mathews Humane Society to help fund the $12,960 worth of services to restore the mobile dental van that serves the county.
In the end, Woodard presented a compromise that would pull a percentage of the money allocated to Bay Aging, the Gloucester Housing Partnership, and the GMHS, to fund the nearly $13,000 for the dental van.
"I know this will probably not make me popular," Ressler said, "but I will choose people over animals every time. People who have lost this service don’t know what they will do, and I see this as a chance to help them out."
Currently, the proposed budget has Gloucester allocating $114,000 to Bay Aging, $36,000 to the Gloucester Housing Partnership, and $45,000 to the GMHS.
Petsworth district supervisor John Northstein asked the county to try to find a way to fund the additional $113,000 requested by the Gloucester County School Board and another approximately $136,000 requested by the sheriff.
However, a majority of the board members indicated it is unwise to allocate additional money until the full effects of Saturday’s storm are known. Then, the board may allocate additional funds to the schools or sheriff’s department as needs arise.
Gloucester County Sheriff Steve Gentry asked for an additional $500,000 from the county’s board of supervisors during a budget work session last Thursday night in the colonial courthouse.
Gentry said the sheriff’s office budget for fiscal year 2012 was submitted with operational needs of $1,356,994. The county administrator’s proposed budget for FY 2012 allocates $1,030,666, which is a reduction of $326,328. Gentry said an additional request for $360,000 for replacement vehicles was not included.
His request for additional funds includes the restoration of $141,500 in operational costs and $360,000 for replacement vehicles.
"There is no greater responsibility to government than to public safety," Gentry said. Aside from education and transportation, he said public safety is in every facet of citizens’ lives.
The department responded to 34,961 calls last year, Gentry said. "That’s a huge number of calls we had to respond to.
"I understand the gravity of the current economic conditions," Gentry continued. "I have worked very diligently over the last couple of years to address these concerns." However, he said it is difficult to translate his expectations into figures. It is often a best-guess estimate to items such as the number of crimes in a given year, the number of inmates the department will have to care for, and the number of calls for service the department may have to respond to, Gentry added.
Costs for the sheriff’s department have gone up in several areas, he said, including fuel, and about $7,000 worth of unfunded mandates from the state.
Gentry said over the past several years, his department has cut crime 17 percent in Gloucester County. This is with five to six officers fewer per shift than in recent years.
Even though he sees this as a step in the right direction, he said his department cannot endure further personnel cuts.
The board voted to cancel Thursday night’s budget work session. Tuesday night’s meeting is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m.