Highland County Board of Supervisors Holds Public Hearing on Proposed 2018-2019 Budget
The Highland County Board of Supervisors held a public hearing on the Proposed County Budget on Tuesday, May 1, 2018.
Revenues and expenditures in the proposed budget are at nearly $7,830,000, which is a decrease by just under 1% compared to the previous year. The majority of local revenues come from real estate at 68%, and the largest estimated expenditure comes from the school system at 56%. In 2017, the assessed value of real property was $691,569,200 at a tax rate of 42 cents. 2018 is a general reassessment year and the new assessed value is roughly $20,500,000 less. In order for the Board to generate approximately the same amount of taxes that were levied in 2017 without going over that amount, the Board has set an equalized rate for 2018 of 43 cents.
Highland County Public Schools Superintendent, Dr. Thomas Schott, was asked by the Board to cut $114,000 from the schools’ budget, but during the public hearing, he said that he was only able to come up with $65,000 to accommodate, leaving him $49,000 short. He requested that the Board of Supervisors consider funding the remaining $49,000. Several in the audience, including school officials like Highland Elementary School Principal Theresa Blum, were in support of this request. She said, “I believe that children have the right to the same education regardless of where they choose to live, so our children need to be competitive in college, et cetera. We need to keep moving forward and fund the school.” The Board will consider comments and can take official action on the proposed budget at their meeting scheduled for Tuesday, May 8th at The Highland County Courthouse at 7:30 p.m.
The Enterprise Fund budget operates the county’s solid waste collection and disposal system, and in a second public hearing, it was announced that there were no changes made to the fees this year.
Moving on, Commonwealth Attorney Melissa Dowd presented research and new language regarding temporary trailer camps for construction workers. Language on this issue was present in the old zoning ordinance but not the current one. In her new draft, she suggested taking the language for such a temporary camp out of being conditional use to more of a standardized, permitted use so conditions are built-in. After presenting her findings and discovering that similar language is not present in many surrounding counties, she said that she was hesitant to move forward. The Board would like Ms. Dowd to send the information to the Planning Commission for review.
In the final public comments, Matt Ratcliffe reiterated a request made last month by the Bolar Volunteer Fire Department. He presented a written resolution stating that the Bolar Volunteer Fire Department, by a unanimous vote by its members, is requesting an adoption of a resolution by the Highland Board of Supervisors for permission to organize, operate and maintain a First Responder Unit to be located in the Bolar Fire House. Several audience members spoke in support.
In other news, the Board appointed Debora Ellington to the Tourism Council for an unexpired term ending December 31, 2021 and adopted proclamations to recognize the month of May as Business Appreciation Month and to recognize Memorial Day 2018. The Board also tentatively scheduled a public hearing with V-DOT on the Secondary Road Construction Improvement Program on June 5, 2018.