Hearing Monday on Mathews budget

by Sherry Hamilton - Posted on Apr 10, 2019 - 02:35 PM

The Mathews County Board of Supervisors will hold a public hearing on the FY 2019-2020 advertised budget and tax rates beginning at 7 p.m. Monday in the multi-purpose room at Thomas Hunter Middle School.

The proposed budget of $26.57 million is $2.3 million more than last year’s originally proposed budget, and it calls for a real estate tax increase of 7 cents per $100 of assessed value over the current rate, for a total proposed real estate tax rate of 64.5 cents per $100 of assessed value.

Included in the proposed budget is a $1.4 million increase in the county’s contribution to the school budget, for a total proposed county contribution to the schools of $8.55 million. The school budget anticipates $6.02 million in state funding and $520,000 from the federal government. The total school budget, including debt service of $500,000 and a one-time carryover of $208,000, is expected to be $15.79 million, up $1.74 million from last year.

Following Monday’s meeting, the board will have a work session at 1 p.m. on Wednesday, April 17, in the historic courthouse to continue discussion of the budget prior to its adoption, which is scheduled for 1 p.m. on Tuesday, April 23, during the regular board of supervisors’ meeting. This will also be held in the historic courthouse.

Impact of budget on schools

Mathews Schools Superintendent Nancy Welch said that, if the supervisors pass a tax rate increase of 7 cents per $100 of assessed value, as proposed, it should be enough for the school board to give teachers a 13-percent raise this year. There is a caveat, however: the state budget. If the funds she’s currently expecting from the state don’t come through, it could impact those raises.

In addition, the proposed tax rate won’t allow for that much of an increase for other school employees, said Welch. Mathews school system has typically had a policy that says “What we do for one, we do for all,” said Welch, and this will be the first year she can recall that teachers will have priority over other positions. However, under the Virginia Standards of Quality, the schools have to give all support staff positions impacted by the SOQ at least a 3-percent raise this year in order to qualify for that funding, so those positions should expect that much of a raise. With debt retirement next year, employees will see additional compensation increases, she hopes, but a lot of it depends on the state budget.

Welch said that she has to add two positions this year—a special education teacher and a media specialist for Thomas Hunter Middle School. Fortunately, she said, an anticipated increase in insurance rates has been put off for a year, which reduced her original budget by $140,000 or so, and an anticipated state requirement for an additional guidance counselor, at a cost of $80,000, didn’t happen, saving a total of $220,000 in this year’s budget.

Once the county adopts its budget and gets the final funding information from the state, Welch said she’ll reconsider everything and provide the school board with a final budget proposal.

“I work on the equity piece—what you do for one, you do for all,” she said. “But it will ultimately be the school board’s decision.”

Welch said she thought that supervisor Mike Rowe “did a wonderful job crunching the numbers” in his presentation to the board during the March meeting. She said that in some cases the board will have to add back in some of the cuts he made because of contracts and other considerations, but that his exercise was useful.

“We’re looking at our budget, as well,” she said, “to see how we can make cuts and make raises happen.”