A $21.95 million draft 2011-2012 Mathews County budget was unveiled at the board of supervisors meeting on Tuesday afternoon, and the board scheduled its first work session on the document for 7 o’clock tonight in the historic courthouse.
The operational part of the proposed budget, $21.06 million, represents a 1.3 percent increase over the current fiscal year, according to County Administrator Steve Whiteway.
Most of the change is due to a 2.4 percent increase in funding for schools to cover the loss of state funding and higher contributions to the retirement system, a 5.1 percent increase in funding for services to children mandated by the Comprehensive Services Act, and a 2.9 percent increase in debt service because of an increase in payments on the principal of the mortgage on the new courthouse and on the solid waste transfer center bonds.
Other increases in the budget include $36,955 for a new state mandate that requires localities to pay for death or disability benefits for both paid and volunteer law enforcement, rescue squad and fire department personnel, and an increase of $19,500 for the sheriff’s office to cover the cost of additional court security requirements.
Whiteway cut the general government and Social Services operational budgets by 2.2 percent and 1.6 percent, respectively.
A proposed capital budget of $890,000 may appear large, said Whiteway, but 80 percent of it will be offset by grant funding, while the remaining 20 percent has been set aside over the past 10 years and is thus already in hand. The funds will pay for an engineered rock revetment around the New Point Lighthouse island and for preliminary construction, tree clearing and walking paths at Fort Nonsense.
Whiteway said that reducing the tax rate from the current 56 cents per $100 of assessed value to 44.6 cents would produce approximately the same amount of real estate tax revenue as last year. However, he said the county has gotten many complaints about the current personal property tax rate of $4.53 per $100 of assessed value, so he proposes setting the real estate tax rate at 47 cents and reducing the personal property tax rate to $3.70. This would put the county "squarely in the center" of tax rates in other localities in the region, said Whiteway, and would result in an actual decrease in tax revenues of more than $85,000.