Few comments heard on budget proposal

by Sherry Hamilton - Posted on May 11, 2011 - 04:39 PM

Mathews County’s public hearing on the proposed 2011-2012 budget and tax rates was sparsely attended Monday night, and only a handful of the three dozen or so residents present made comments. The meeting, which was held in the historic courthouse, was over in less than an hour.

Supervisors are expected to adopt the budget and the accompanying tax rates at a special meeting 7:30 p.m. Monday at the historic courthouse.

County administrator Steve Whiteway opened the meeting with a slide presentation on the $21.95 million budget, explaining that, while the numbers show a 4.9 percent increase over the current year’s budget, $890,000 of the total amount is for capital projects being paid for mainly through grants.

The county’s part of the budget for capital projects is just $130,900, said Whiteway, and a portion of that money has been accumulating over several years to cover the county’s share for preserving New Point Comfort Lighthouse and making the historic Fort Nonsense site accessible.

Excluding the two capital projects, the operational budget represents an increase of just 1.3 percent compared to the current fiscal year, said Whiteway. He explained that this increase in the operational budget is due to several factors: an increase in the school budget of $287,262 (2.4 percent) to offset reductions in state funding; a 5.1 percent ($25,000) increase in funding for children’s services mandated by the state under the Comprehensive Services Act; and a 2.9 percent ($20,430) increase in the county’s debt service.

The operational budget for general county government decreased by 2.2 percent ($45,907), said Whiteway, and the Department of Social Services’ operational budget decreased by 1.6 percent ($19,044).

Whiteway explained further that, although the proposed budget is an increase over the current budget, it still reflects a decrease from the $22 million 2009-2010 budget. Funding for the schools under the proposed budget would be less than last year, as well, said Whiteway. In 2009-2010, the school system had a budget of $13.1 million, while funds proposed for this year are $12.34 million.