Following hours of deliberation stretched over a period of six weeks, the Gloucester County Board of Supervisors adopted the county’s fiscal year 2014-15 $133 million budget Tuesday night. The budget adoption meeting, which was held in the colonial courthouse, went rather seamlessly, with only a few last-minute changes.
Tax rates for property owners will remain at their current levels, which are 65 cents per $100 of assessed value on real estate; $2.95 per $100 of assessed value on personal property and $1 per $100 on boats. A directive from the board was given to county administrator Brenda Garton in January to develop the budget with no tax increases and no increase in debt service to the county.
The budget provided level funding for the school system, although it was nearly $2 million shy of what was initially requested by school superintendent Ben Kiser.
At the beginning of Tuesday night’s meeting during citizens’ comment period, Kathleen Evans, acting chair of the Laurel Shelter, Inc., requested the organization be fully funded. She also requested a one-time capital infusion to address an issue of bedbugs that have cropped up at the shelter. The organization cares for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.
The board of supervisors unanimously agreed that a nearly $18,000 transfer from the county’s fund balance was warranted to address the shelter’s needs.
During several work sessions preceding Tuesday night’s budget adoption, the board decided to leave the funding in the budget for the second assistant county administrator’s position, which has been vacant with the retirement of Georgette Hurley last month. The board will hear from county administration in July, to make its case on the merits of filling the position or transferring the money for the position elsewhere in the budget.
The board also agreed to allocate funds for one-time bonuses for county employees in the lower pay tiers, at a cost of approximately $28,000.