Highland Supervisors deal with budget cuts
Monterey, Va. – The Highland County Board of Supervisors will have to deal with yet another round of reductions in funding from the state this year. That was the message that County Administrator Roberta Lambert had for the Supervisors at their meeting Tuesday evening.
“We received a breakdown from the state of the reductions in state aid to local governments that were included in the 2012 Appropriations Act for fiscal year 2013,” said Ms. Lambert. “The first one is to the General Registrar’s office that’s $1,084, to the Electoral Board, $166, and to what they call Local Court Services, which is actually the Sheriff’s Department, is $17,884.”
In addition to those cuts, there will be funding reductions to the offices of the Commissioner of the Revenue, Commonwealth Attorney, Circuit Court Clerk, as well as the public library, and to several other county budget categories, for a total reduction from the state of $24,083. Supervisor Lee Blagg noted that the state is continuing its policy of reducing funding to localities and thereby making localities raise their taxes in order to continue to operate their county offices. In other words, the state requires the county to provide these services, but is reducing the state funding supporting those offices. It is another form of unfunded mandate from the state. Ms. Lambert goes on to give the Supervisors their options for responding to these cuts from the state.
“The Board can choose to follow those recommendations from the state, which is based on a percentage, or you can choose to take all of that amount from one or more items that are listed there,” said Ms. Lambert. “Or we can turn around and just make a reimbursement back to the Commonwealth. What we are recommending is that you go ahead and make the reductions as they are shown here, and the state will withhold that from the reimbursements to the county.”
Ms. Lambert adds that this is not the first time the state has reduced funding for county offices.
“This has been done every year for the past several years,” said Ms. Lambert. “The last several years the Board has absorbed the reduction. What they have done in the past is to ask the department heads, if at all possible, to try and make reductions to help cover that loss, but they have picked up that loss.”
So in recent years, the Board has had to make amendments to the county budget to make up for these cuts in state funding. The Supervisors approved a motion to proceed as recommended by County Administrator Lambert and make these reductions to the county budget. During the public comment period, McDowell resident Wes Maupin asked the Supervisors for an update on the McDowell Solid Waste Facility. County Administrator Lambert responded.
“We needed a variance permit because of the location of another commercial entrance,” said Ms. Lambert. “They have approved that. The county’s engineers are working on the entrance permit itself. The county’s engineers have submitted our local building and zoning office an erosion and sediment control plan which has to be approved before we can proceed with putting out a bid on the property. That is being processed, and we had a survey of the property done, which was completed last week.”
Stay tuned to Allegheny Mountain radio next week for more news from the Highland County Board of Supervisors meeting.