Isle of Wight proposing $74M budget

Published 3:10 pm Tuesday, April 17, 2018

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On Wednesday, County Administrator Randy Keaton presented the Isle of Wight County Board of Supervisors with a draft of the county’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2018-2019. The General Fund budget totals $74,281,150. Approximately 74 percent of this will come from general property taxes in the amount of approximately $55 million. The largest expenditures are for education, which totals $26.4 million or approximately 36 percent; public safety, which totals $11.1 million or 15 percent; and debt service, which totals $11.9 million or 16 percent.

Keaton said the FY 2018-2019 budget is notable for the fact that for the fifth year in a row, there will be no change in the county’s real estate tax rate of 85 cents per $100 of assessed value or to the personal property tax rate of $4.50 per $100.

The county also plans to decrease its machinery and tools tax rate from $4.24 per $100 to $1.75 per $100. However, a 5-percent increase in water and sewer rates has been included in the budget. Keaton said that only increasing water and sewer rates by 5 percent instead of the projected 9.5-percent increase was an effort to make the county’s Utility Fund more self-sustaining and less reliant on subsidies from the General Fund, while also taking into account affordability for residents.

The $26.4 million budgeted for Isle of Wight County Schools amounts to an increase of $994,300 in local funds over last year’s budget, Keaton said. The school division had presented the county with a flat budget request prior to the start of the current fiscal year, with $715,830 included in debt service to finance its $7.9 million in-house career and technical education program and facility improvements.

This coming fiscal year, a $2.16 million increase in debt payments has been included in the county’s debt service budget. This is to fund planned increases in the county’s debt payment schedule due to a restructuring of its debt service during the recession.

Another significant change over last year’s budget is an $810,000 reduction in the county’s solid waste budget. This is the result of the Southeastern Public Service Authority, which handles waste disposal for eight localities including Isle of Wight, planning to reduce its tipping fees from $120 per ton to $62 per ton effective July 1.

In terms of staff compensation, the county has budgeted a 2-percent general wage increase for county employees in the coming fiscal year to keep Isle of Wight competitive with neighboring localities, plus an additional 1-percent increase to reward employees who excel at their jobs. The county’s health plan also experienced a 5-percent increase in total costs, which will be passed onto employees. Employees will still have a choice of four health insurance options.

This coming fiscal year, the county also plans to implement a change to its budgeting process for fire and rescue vehicle repairs. Beginning July 1, each department will receive an annual amount per vehicle for preventative maintenance and small repairs. All repair bills over $250 will be sent to the county to be paid from a new line item funded with $100,000 to protect volunteer departments from unexpected repair costs and eliminate uncertainty in their individual budgets.

Additional budget work sessions have been scheduled for April 12, 17 and 26, all at 6 p.m. in the board room of the Isle of Wight County Courthouse Complex. A public hearing on the budget will be on Thursday, April 19, at 5 p.m., and adoption of the proposed operating and capital budgets is scheduled for Thursday, May 10, at 6 p.m.