TODAY'S NEWS

Warren County sets budget hearing for Tuesday

The Warren Sentinel

FRONT ROYAL — A public hearing on Warren Countyís proposed Fiscal Year 2016-2017 budget and tax rates is scheduled for 7 p.m. Tuesday at the government center. The Board of Supervisors is scheduled to vote on a finalized budget during its April19 meeting.

In recent months, the supervisors attempted to solve the nearly $4 million shortfall facing the county. The shortfall is about 5.6 percent of the total county budget, the highest in eight years.

In a recently advertised proposed budget, the countyís general fund is listed at $71.1 million and the schoolís operating fund at about $53.1 million. Of the schoolís budget, about $22.1 million is provided from the countyís general fund.

In the advertised budget, the supervisors propose a 3-cent real estate tax increase. Now that the tax rate has been advertised, the supervisors may not adjust it higher, but they can reduce it.

The increase, at 63 cents per $100 of assessed value, would result in a $1,260 tax bill for a $200,000 house. The current real estate tax rate is 59.5 cents per $100 of assessed value, with a tax bill for a $200,000 property being $1,190.

Supervisor Dan Murray has spoken adamantly against the tax increase, and said he would not vote in its favor. He said the county needs to think creatively and come up with more budget cuts.

At a work session, Supervisor Tony Carter previously stated the county had three options to make ends meet: increase the real estate tax, use money from the fund balance or make cuts in other areas.

A one-penny increase in the real-estate tax rate would generate about $404,400, County Administrator Doug Stanley said.

Stanley suggested one penny of the increase go to current school operations, one and a half penny to opening the new middle school in 2017, and one penny to covering the countyís share of costs at the Rappahannock-Shenandoah-Warren Regional Jail.

Under the proposed tax rate, the county would receive about $315,000 from Dominion Power in public service tax money. The utility tax Dominion pays the county is based on a formula that includes the real-estate tax rate.

The county has also cut several proposed positions from the sheriffís office and fire department, which would free up about $87,500.

Carter said over the phone that the public hearing is mainly a forum for citizens to comment on any aspect of the budget. He said the supervisors may hear something that previously did not occur to them.

"It's the primary forum for the public to come and express their opinions on what they would like to see the county spend their revenue, thatís what it's for. Hopefully people come out in support," Carter said.

A detailed copy of the proposed budget is available for the public at the county administratorís office in the Warren County Government Center or online at warrencountyva.net.



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