PALMYRA — The Fluvanna Board of Supervisors united to pass an advertised budget but it was a compromise that got the board to the satisfying motion.
Two weeks before the vote in a Fluco Blog report, all supervisors were comfortable allocating at least $13.5 million for the school district.
Only two supervisors, Mozell Booker (Fork Union District) and Joe Chesser (Rivanna District), went on record saying a $0.81 per $100 real estate tax rate (the equalized rate after the reassessment) was agreeable. Both Booker and Chesser were willing to allocate more than $13.5 million too.
Two supervisors, Shaun Kenney (Columbia District) and Bob Ullenbruch (Palmyra District), said a real estate rate of $0.79 per $100 was better with $13.6 going towards schools.
It appears changes started on March 18 or 19 with Booker and Chesser needing third vote higher than $0.79. That appeared secured by meeting time. The five votes for the budget was still a surprise to Booker.
“I thought it would be a 3-2,” said Booker after the meeting without saying who the third dance partner was.
“It was good compromise,” said Ullenbruch of the final tax and school figures.
Kenney, who last voted on a budget with Booker, Chesser and then chairman John Gooch (Palmyra District) in 2011, said, “Mrs. Booker and I have a really cool working relationship at the moment. We understand one another. We agree on the ends. We want to be in the same place, we just have different means of getting there. I think it has been one of the more interesting dynamics on the board so far.”
Don Weaver (Cunningham District) was the first to publicly discuss increasing school funding during a work session on March 13, saying the school system would need more than the county administrator proposed budget of $13.2 million. He came away happy with the advertised budget.
“I think it takes away from both sides, but I think it is as fair of it as you can do,” said Weaver.
While the vote was 5-0 for the advertised budget, there still was a fracture in the group. At the end of the March 20 meeting, Chesser motioned to reconsider in hopes of increasing the rate. While he got support from Booker, the motion failed 3-2.“That’s not where we want it but that’s the only thing we could do. I knew we couldn’t go ($0.80). I’m glad Joe brought it. Then we put it out there and we showed the public it wasn’t there.” Booker continued, “I wanted to make the motion (for the original advertised budget) because people know where my heart is. They ought to say, ‘God, Mozell has worked for something different and this is all she can get?’”
Chairman Kenney likes the advertised budget passed unanimously, “5-0 vote, I think that is a win. I think it was a pretty clear signal from the Board of Supervisors that, look, we understand the issues, we understand the problems but we are working together to try to resolve them.
“We just came out of the worst economic depression since the Great Depression. It is going to take time to recover from that. It is not going to happen in a year or two or three. It is going to happen over the course of time. As it continues to recover we’ve got to willing put things back incrementally and be patient about that process. If we start rocking the pendulm again, as we’ve seen in previous years, … that’s where we start making mistakes. As a community I don’t think we can make too many.”
Weaver said, “I think it is a difficult budget. Certainly we would’ve like to had given more, but we are trying to recover from the last three years, $5 million debt on the high school. It is something we have to balance and try to look at both sides of it.”
The next question is if the advertised budget also be the one that passes during a final vote on April 17. The public hearing is April 10 with a work session on April 3. All meetings are at the Fluvanna Circuit Courtroom.