Public hearing next week on Gloucester’s budget

Quinton Sheppard - Posted on Mar 20, 2019 - 01:40 PM

The public will have an opportunity to comment on Gloucester County’s fiscal year 2020 budget during a hearing on Wednesday, March 27.

The Gloucester County Board of Supervisors will receive public comments on the county administrator’s proposed $32.97 million general fund operating budget for the county. The meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m. in the T.C. Walker Education Center auditorium.

As it stands, the proposed budget aims to continue to improve compensation for both county and school system employees and does not reduce services or eliminate programs. However, it falls short of providing a $3.6 million local increase that the school superintendent requested in his proposed budget, providing an $820,000 increase in local dollars to help fund school compensation issues.

The advertised tax rate for Wednesday night’s public hearing is 75 cents per $100 of assessed value on real estate and $1 per $100 of assessed value on the boat tax. Currently, the county has a real estate tax rate of 69 cents per $100 of assessed value and essentially has no boat tax. Personal property tax rates will remain the same.

A majority of the board decided to advertise the higher tax rate in order to provide more flexibility to fund other items during budget deliberations. However, any new tax rate would not be approved until the budget is adopted next month.

According to county administrator Brent Fedors, a one-cent increase on the real estate tax rate would generate $420,000 in additional revenue. Also, a $1 per $100 of value on the boat tax would equate to $400,000 in additional revenue to help fund unmet needs. Those could be potential funding sources if the board wished to add additional services or goals in the budget.

During the board of supervisor’s first work session on the budget last week, a majority of board members pledged to do their best to make sure local volunteer fire and rescue organizations in the county were fully funded in next year’s budget.

The board has several more work sessions planned following the public hearing and prior to adopting the county’s budget on April 15.