$70M county budget includes 5% raises for school, county employees

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By Randy Arrington

LURAY, May 13 — On Monday night, the Page County School Board approved final adjustments to its $43.4 million budget for FY22, following the May 4 adoption of the county’s $70.5 million operating budget by the Page County Board of Supervisors.

One of the key issues during this budget season was pay raises for all county employees. Supervisors needed $953,651 to fund a 5-percent average salary increase for both teachers and school staff, as well as county government employees, during the next fiscal year beginning July 1. The state mandated raises for teachers and positions within constitutional offices paid by the state compensation board, so the county took the opportunity to bring salaries up for other staff as well. The county had $705,000 in unappropriated funds, and the supervisors decided to pull the remaining $248,072 from the general fund reserve to pay for the salary increases.

In April, the board of supervisors voted to keep all tax rates the same as the current fiscal year. The county’s FY22 operating budget totals $70,503,840, with the lion’s share of $43.4 million going to the school system. The county’s budget for the current fiscal year is $69.4 million.

Page County Public Schools saw an increase in funding across the board, with an increase of $1.3 million from the state (up 5.4 percent), $2.9 million more from federal coffers (CARES Act and meals program) and a local increase of $641,352 (up 6.2 percent) for operations. However, the local funding for schools shows an overall decrease from $14.3 million in the current fiscal year to $11 million in FY22 because the county has shifted debt service on capital projects from the school ledger to the county’s accounting system.

The school system returned more than $1.5 million in unspent funds to the county for the current fiscal year. After being denied a request to place rollover (or unspent) funds into the school system’s capital improvement plan for two consecutive years by the county’s former finance director, supervisors granted a request last month to rollover $856,009 from this year’s unspent amount for the purchase of three school buses and new elementary language arts curriculum.

Although no direct appropriation for capital improvements was included in the county budget, supervisors have stated during several meetings that they intend to earmark funds from the county’s $14 million of reserves in the general fund to cover some needed capital projects. The majority of those funds would go toward school projects, according to discussions by the supervisors. Some capital projects may also get help over the next two years from the anticipated $4 million the county anticipates from the American Rescue Plan of 2021.

The published notice of the county’s proposed FY22 budget showed the following allotments for capital improvements included in an overall advertised $81.6 million spending package:

• $1.6 million for general capital improvements (up from $590,191);

• $1.3 million in landfill capital improvements (including $725,000 for a compactor);

• $1.7 million in school division capital improvements.

The school budget includes $29.4 million for instruction, which accounts for 71 percent of the operating budget. By deferring some positions and “leveraging COVID funds,” the school system is also able to adjust teacher salary scales.

“I have to give thanks to the board of supervisors, I think we really worked well on our relationships to make some headway,” Dr. Wendy Gonzalez told school board members Monday night.

“We’re very grateful for the monies given to us,” the superintendent added, although the division received less of a local increase than originally requested. “This extra money will go toward the raises, so they really came through for us to be able to do this.”

The school system has a total operating budget of $41,381,005 including local funding of $10,989,932 and another $2,058,734 in federal funding to cover the meals program. The school division’s overall $43.4 million budget shows a $1.1 million increase (2.6 percent) over the current fiscal year’s $42.4 million spending plan. The schools receive about 61 percent of their operational funds from the state, with 27 percent in local funding and 11 percent from the federal level (including additional grant, CARES and ARP funding).



Supervisors set tax rate with no increase, now work begins to close $5M gap

Page County supervisors vote to advertise 14-cent tax rate increase on real estate

Supervisors lower tax rates to ease financial burden during health crisis

Stanley anticipating nearly $1.6 million from American Rescue Plan of 2021

Luray anticipating $4.4 million from American Rescue Plan of 2021

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