Highland Supervisors Approve 2019 Budget
With little fanfare, the Highland County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday evening to set the 2019 fiscal year budget. The numbers were revised slightly from those previously proposed to accommodate the amended budget request from the Highland School system. In Monday evening’s school board meeting, Superintendent Dr. Thomas Schott reported that the supervisors had requested that $114,000 be cut from the schools budget, and he had managed to achieve $65,000 of that request by adjustments to insurance. Dr. Schott also noted in Monday’s meeting that final funding figures has not been set by the state, as no budget had been passed by the General Assembly.
Supervisor Kevin Wagner made the motion to accept the finalized county budget with the remaining $50,000 the board had asked to be cut included, citing commentary from the public budget hearing and further communications as his reasoning for doing so. His motion included a $.01 increase in the real estate tax to make this possible, versus drawing from the general budget. Supervisor David Blanchard seconded the motion, and commented that with this budget, the county had reached a “high water mark” for school funding, and that further discussions were necessary in the future as to how to keep the school moving forward. The budget passed unanimously – real estate will be taxed at $.44, personal property at $2.50 and machinery and tools $1.00, and merchant capital at $1.00. The enterprise fund budget, which pays for the county trash needs, remained the same and passed as well.
In other business, the Board had received a request from Matthew Ratcliffe to make a decision on supporting a request for the Bolar Fire Department for first responder status at their next regular meeting. The Board felt that they needed to speak with local interested parties before agreeing to this request, including the Highland Volunteer Rescue Squad and the Citizen’s EMS Committee, and instructed county administrator Roberta Lambert to reach out to them to schedule a meeting. On a related note, the Citizen’s Committee requested the Board to hold a closed session to discuss personnel, to which they be invited. County Attorney Melissa Dowd explained that since the EMS committee had no personnel themselves, they could not hold such a closed meeting, therefore necessitating this step. The Board agreed to do so, with the date to be decided.