Each supervisor mentioned the work of county administrator Steve Nichols and his budget team for keeping the process easy, fair and reasonable for what the supervisors wanted.
“Steve Nichols. He ran the budget, he presented it to us, it was extremely smooth,” said Don Weaver (Cunningham District). “The smoothest budget we’ve ever had.” Weaver is completing his 24th year on the board.
Mozell Booker (Fork Union District) enjoyed the process, “I loved the whole budget process: the way it was organized, the way it was presented. And we got a 5-0 [vote] on the tax rate.”
The 5-0 did change the dynamic of the weeks leading up to the final vote. In the final work session one long time observer said, “I don’t think I’ve ever seen a board like this together.” The person added it was clear everyone was on the same page in regards to the budget.
The supervisors say that cohesion existed with the help of Nichols’ proposed budget.
“Because we had a good preliminary budget, that started things off smooth,” said Bob Ullenbruch (Palmyra District). “The county administrator’s budget this year was a very good starting point. It just needed to be tweaked, we did that. Obviously we had very few adversarial meetings.”
Chairman Shaun Kenney stressed the process was how budgets are supposed to go, compared to previous years, “I think you can contribute that to Mr. Nichols and the way he’s governed the budget. It certainly has been a definite seat change over the last three years, the board certainly feels much relieved to not have been as intensively involved.”
Said Nichols, “I’m very pleased the supervisors got what they expected. Their the ones that have to make those tough decisions. I want them to have good, solid, easy to understand information to make those decisions.”
Nichols is the fourth administrator to work with the board in the last four years. That doesn’t include an interim who’s stay didn’t include a budget cycle.
“I’m hoping I get to do this for a few budgets so we get some continuity,” said Nichols. “That’s good for our board, good for citizens and good for staff. It was a process we will replicate the good things next year and we’ll add to it to make it better.”
Nichols and staff celebrated the budget passage the day after with a pizza party. The gathering also included a feedback time to discuss what could be improved for next year’s budget. Typically the budget process begins in the fall.