Sequestration causes uncertainty in Mathews budget process

Charlie Koenig - Posted on Mar 06, 2013 - 01:51 PM

The effects of sequestration, federal spending cuts that began on Friday, have already begun to cause some uncertainty as the Mathews County School Board maps out its 2013-2014 budget.

Board members held a budget work session Tuesday afternoon, with the big question being how the sequester will impact the $12.8 million draft. The budget remained basically unchanged from when it was first presented in January, although it was still left unanswered how the division would compensate for the potential loss in federal revenues.

A public hearing on the draft budget will be held at 6 p.m. Tuesday in the Mathews High School media center. The board is expected to adopt its budget on the following Tuesday and forward that request to county supervisors.

The $12,793,180 proposal represents an increase of $367,071 from the current operating budget of $12.4 million. State revenues are expected to absorb the majority of that increase, with the county being asked to increase its contribution by $152,801. Under the plan, local funding would increase from $6.9 million to slightly over $7 million.

The budget includes a 2 percent pay increase, plus step, for all employees. The state budget includes funds to support a 2 percent pay raise for Virginia’s teachers, the first time for such a statewide salary bump in the past five years.

While federal revenue makes up the smallest of the three main funding streams for Mathews schools (a projected $842,948 in the current draft budget), sequestration could slash that figure by as much as $50,000.

The figure could be substantially less, superintendent of schools David J. Holleran said; there’s just no way right now to know how this will all shake out.

If it were less than $50,000, Holleran said, the school division might be able to absorb it through savings realized from the retirement of senior staff members. "Could we get to a figure of half that with retirement? Maybe," Holleran said. Of course, he added, there is no way to be sure of that either, with only a small number of retirements expected this year.