While hearings on county budgets are often lengthy, contentious affairs, last Thursday’s discussion on Mathews County’s proposed $23.66 million budget was a bit of an anomaly.
"This may be the easiest public hearing of my life," supervisors’ chairman Janine Burns quipped, following the public hearing that lasted only about 20 minutes.
Fellow board member Charles Ingram hinted at the reason for the extremely brief meeting. Waving his hands out in the direction of the nearly empty benches of the historic courthouse, he said that "you can always tell when the citizens are happy."
The reason they are happy is because, while other localities such as neighboring Gloucester are facing significant tax hikes, the Mathews draft budget for 2012-2013 actually calls for a slight decrease.
The only change on the revenue side from the current operating budget is a 5¢ drop in the personal property tax for motor vehicles, from $3.70 per $100 of assessed valuation to $3.65. All other tax rates, including the 47¢ real estate rate, would remain unchanged.
Superintendent of Schools David J. Holleran was the lone speaker at last Thursday’s hearing. While conceding that "it’s been a tough couple of months" dealing with the layoffs of teacher assistants, several teachers and other school employees, Holleran assured the county officials that the division is "ready to stand tall next year …and we’ll provide you with a quality school system."