PALMYRA — With an advertised budget finalized, the Fluvanna School Board will have to cut $350,000 to balance its budget.
“It is going to be a difficult decision. We are definitely gonna have to rework the numbers, look at our budget priorities — see where there may be a little bit of room to do something different. I know the important thing to this board is we do take care of our staff,” said School Board chairwoman Camilla Washington (Columbia District).
Going into this week all signs pointed to the Board of Supervisors passing a $0.79 per $100 real estate tax. That would have left $13.62 million for the school district.
Earlier in the week a compromise developed to advertise a real estate tax of $0.795 per $100. That gave the schools $13.75 million for local contribution. The School Board requested $14.1 million in local contribution.
“Certainly better than it could’ve been,” said superintendent Gena Keller of the advertised budget. “We’ll put our heads together and determine where we can make cuts because we are going to have to cut back, that’s the reality.
“We need $14.1 [million]. [The advertised budget] is almost there. Certainly I would prefer and am disappointed we couldn’t get that half cent more [tax rate]. I do appreciate a dialog and conversation about it — I think that’s important. We’ll go back to the drawing board and say course.”
The School Board request included $1.8 million worth of budget items over the agreed baseline funding for this upcoming fiscal year. Now, it appears those additions will be on the table for discusion about the needed cuts.
“Go to that sheet, figure out where we can back off a bit. That would definitely be our first start,” said Keller.
The list in question includes elimination of furlough days ($334,700); contributing the employee share of VRS Group Life Insurance ($146,800); providing all staff with a two percent raise using the associated state funding plus a one percent offset raise for the VRS transfer to employees ($331,650); increase funds for utilities and vehicle fuel plus restoring the building maintenance fund ($340,200); restore building instructional supplies and materials funding ($185,800); anticipation of a 10 percent health insurance increase plus impacts of the Affordable Care Act ($231,400) and technology needs not included in the capital improvement plan ($307,600).
At the end of the Board of Supervisors meeting, Joe Chesser (Rivanna District) made a motion to reconsider the advertising a budget and tax rates motions. Mozell Booker (Fork Union District) seconded it. The motion failed on a 3-2 vote.
Had Chesser’s motion passed and the supervisors reconsidered the real estate tax rate for $0.80 per $100 assessed, it would increase the school funding to $13.89 million. A real estate tax rate of $0.805 would bring funding to $14.02 million.
A near equalized real estate rate of $0.81 would overfund the School Board request, bringing funding to $14.15 million. The advertised budget and tax rates that did pass did so unanimously.
“I was very surprised with the 5-0 [vote]. I applaud Mr. Chesser for asking for reconsideration for the tax rate. I applaud him for doing that. I appreciate Mrs. Booker’s support [of the motion to consider]. It was the opportunity for the board at that moment to make a decision. We see which way it went,” said Washington.
The next regularly scheduled School Board meeting is April 10. The public portion of the meeting will begin at 4 p.m.