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The budget also includes pay raises for county employees, and keeps real estate taxes the same.
Tuesday, April 23, 2013
BEDFORD — Bedford County supervisors formally adopted an $89.1 million county budget for 2013- 14 that includes a pay raise for county employees, but gives the school board about $3.4 million less than it asked for.
Still, the $38 million for the schools should be enough to pay for a 3 percent pay raise for school employees, Superintendent Douglas Schuch told supervisors near the end of the two-and-a-half-hour meeting Monday night.
“We have discussed a lot of things, but I believe that is still in the budget,” said Schuch, who had included the raise for teachers and other staff in his budget proposal. “I don’t believe the school board is against it.”
Schuch’s initial request had amounted to about $39 million, but the school board raised that to about $41 million in its formal request to supervisors. The board allocated $38 million to the school division and another $1 million to a reserve fund, which school officials say they cannot access for operational expenses in the coming year.
In recent public hearings, county teachers had asked the supervisors to approve the school system’s full request. Some of those pleas clearly irked Supervisor Annie Pollard, who said that the county had some of the best teachers in the state, but she was tired of “the crap we took from them.”
“If they think we will rob taxpayers to pay a bunch of crybabies, that’s not going to happen,” she said.
She hinted that the board could take a closer look at funding of specific school programs when it discusses appropriations and contingencies later this summer.
Pollard also questioned the need for a volunteer coordinator for the fire and rescue department, among other budget items.
The county real estate tax rate will remain 50 cents per $100 of assessed value, lower than all of the seven counties that border Bedford County.
“There is no tax increase, which is very, very, very important, there is no question about that,” said supervisors Chairman Steve Arrington, who cautioned that in the future it may be “difficult to do that, but that is what we have been doing.”
The budget includes $16.1 million for public safety, $4.7 million for public works, $5.4 million for judicial and government administration, $2.9 million for capital improvements and $2.9 million for parks and recreation.
The board also got a glimpse of what could be a looming water fight in the county, as two people spoke against the plans for a water line that will take water from Smith Mountain Lake and pump it to Forest in the eastern part of the county. Speaking on behalf of the newly created Bedford Regional Authority, Brian Key said the pipeline would more than pay for itself over the next generation while providing a backup water source for Bedford when it reverts from a city to a town on July 1.
However, David Lowery of Moneta said that the project has not been given a proper public discussion and could harm farmland. Landowner John Lane said the planning commission should be given a say on the project.
Some lake residents in the audience gave an earful to Key and authority Chairman Elmer Hodge after the two addressed the board. Many lake residents will be opposed to having water drawn from the lake, especially after last year’s drought, when lake levels fell.
“You’re going to have a fight on your hands if you take any more out of Smith Mountain Lake,” Supervisor Curry Martin , himself a lakefront property owner, told Key.
In other business, supervisors unanimously approved a rezoning request from Balance Master Inc., a small software and electronics company, to change a small parcel on Tuck Road near Moneta from R-1 low-density residential to an agriculture village center district. The property had been home to a small cabinet company until 2007, but reverted to residential after the business was closed for more than two years, prompting the rezoning request to make way for the new business.
Supervisors also approved minor changes in language to the county’s zoning and subdivision ordinances. The board heard a request from David Halsey to approve a special-use permit for a facility to park and wash tour buses in Montvale, but delayed taking action until it receives comments from the county planning commission.
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