Highland County Board of Supervisors Adopts Fiscal Year 2020 Budgets


The Highland County Board of Supervisors officially adopted the Fiscal Year 2020 County Budget and Solid Waste Collection and Disposal Budget at their May 2, 2019 meeting.

The new tax rate represents an increase of 4 cents, or 9%, in the rate for real estate and an increase of 25 cents, or 10%, in the rate for personal property.  The Supervisors unanimously approved a motion to fix the following levies on each $100 of assessed value on all taxable real estate in Highland County and on each $100 of value on all tangible personal property: real estate tax rate at 48 cents, personal property tax rate at $2.75, machinery and tools at $1 and merchant capital at $1.

The decision came after the prior week’s proposed budget public hearing on April 25th, where five individuals spoke.

Catherine Willow thanked the Board for their hard work.

John Moyers commented as a member of the School Board, a taxpayer and a grandparent of students.  He felt he didn’t get to express his thoughts about more cuts to the School Board Budget at the School Board’s final emergency meeting, so he made suggestions directly to the Board of Supervisors.  Among examining salary, fuel and electric costs, he also suggested organizations that make money on the school pay for utilities and other services, and he wanted to make sure money was actually going to educate kids and not making the school a community center.

Carla Obaugh mentioned that if taxes are going to be raised, what is the Board going to for economic growth?  She questioned a full-time recreation director position and suggested putting in a land-use tax.

Steve Varner questioned the cost of education per student in the public school system, and he talked about how full-time farmers have to pay so much when their pay is not increasing.

After the public comment period ended, Vice-Chairman David Blanchard responded to Mr. Varner, who had wondered if comments were falling on deaf ears.  Mr. Blanchard said they were not and that the tough part is the rescue squad portion of the budget, which is the largest contributor to the budget increase, but which no one had actually addressed during the public hearing.  This caused county resident Robert Lambert to raise concerns over the rescue squad’s “soft billing” procedures, which he proposed would pay for the rescue squad if actually paid.

Supervisor Harry Sponaugle also said comments were not falling on deaf ears, especially as a full-time farmer himself.  He said the majority of people he has spoken with want to go the route of a paid rescue squad.  He later mentioned that there is very little waste in the budgets.

Back to the May 2nd meeting after the budget was officially approved, David Blanchard reiterated that a large part of the increase this year is due to setting up a paid rescue squad, and he looks at a the whole budget picture as creating a better place in Highland County, which is, in a sense, economic development.

Regarding the Solid Waste Collection and Disposal Budget, also known as the Enterprise Fund, there were no changes compared to the previous year’s budget.  The Board unanimously approved a motion to fix the following fees on each habitable dwelling unit and business classification located in Highland County:  a $150 annual fee for residential, $75 for business low density, $150 for business low-medium density, $225 for business medium density, and $300 for business high density.

In comments after the vote, David Blanchard hoped the county will be able to work out the issue of currently being unable to recycle glass or plastic because if they have to send out the material as waste in tonnage, the county will have to pay.

Story By

Chris Swecker

is the Assistant Station Coordinator and a News Reporter for WVLS. He has roots in Highland County going back several generations, and he grew up in Monterey. Since graduating from James Madison University with a bachelor’s degree in Media Arts and Design, he has pursued his career at a news station and advertising agency in Virginia, on Microsoft’s campus in the state of Washington, and in both states as sole owner and employee of a video production company. He enjoys exploring life with his wife, Jessa Fowler, traveling, hiking, hunting, gardening, and trying new foods, all while discovering more about what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ. He feels blessed to be a small part of this talented AMR team to help give back to the community that has provided him with so much.

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