Highland Supervisors Approve 6.8 Million Dollar County Budget For 2011-2012
Monterey, VA – Audience seats at Monterey’s modular conference center were nearly all filled by teachers, staff and school board members when the Highland County Board of Supervisors opened their meeting on Tuesday to approve the county budget. After Chairman Robin Sullenberger brought the county budget proposal to the floor for discussion or amendment, there was a brief pause during which it seemed everyone in the audience was holding their breath waiting to see what would happen next. Supervisor David Blanchard was the first to speak.
“I’m going to pick up where I left off at the last meeting and make a motion that we reinstate the full funding request that the school board made to the county” says Blanchard.
Supervisor Blanchard’s motion added back to the county budget the $67,795 that was removed from the school budget in the initial county budget proposal approved 3 weeks ago. This addition would bring the school budget to $4,066,967. Supervisor Rexrode followed with remarks detailing his position on the school budget.
“So next year, if you look at it [and] keep the same budget you’re going to be $440,000.00 dollars in the red” says Rexrode, “which next year you can’t subtain. You’ll have to come out with a major tax increase next year close to 17%; which is a sizeable increment. I’m going to say this publicly, I haven’t had one comment in favor of raises; every person that I’ve talked to in the public has told me it’s not the time for bonuses, raises or nothing.”
He goes on to caution the School Board about what may happen with next year’s budget.
“As long as you’re aware, you know what this is going to do next year; you’re going to have people down in the throat” he says. “I mean we can subtain it this year, we substained it last year. But you can’t keep taking that kind of money out of money you set aside and balance the budget. Without growth you have no place to go but a tax increase.”
“We’ve got to really be more open minded and try to find additional revenue for the county. I don’t know where it’s going to come from other than raising taxes.”
Supervisor Sullenberger also commented on the motion to amend the school budget.
“I’m going to be supportive of this and I do think that the potential harm that would be done by not following through on this far outweighs the potential for what we’re going to have to be dealing with this year in particular” says Sullenberger. “Certainly Mr. Rexrode’s right, we’ve got some real challenges ahead of us. I hope we’re going to be able to deal with those in a progressive way.”
The amendment to the county budget restoring the school budget to its original amount was approved by a vote of 2 to 1, with Supervisor Rexrode voting against the motion. Next, Supervisor Blanchard made a motion to add $2000.00 to the Highland Chamber of Commerce budget to fund continuation of programs for promoting tourism in Highland County. He also proposed adding $2,167 to the Chamber budget for continued participation in the state Travel Council group that is promoting tourism in the Allegheny Highlands. The Supervisors approved both of these motions unanimously.
Following those budget amendments, the Supervisors approved the 2011-2012 county budget of just over 6.8 million dollars. This is an increase of about one tenth of one per cent over last year’s budget. The tax rates will remain the same for next year at 40 cents per hundred dollars value for real estate and $1.50 per hundred dollars value for personal property.
The next regular meeting of the Highland County Board of Supervisors will be Tuesday, May 3 at 7:30 PM in the Modular Conference Center in Monterey.