County Administrator Kathleen Guzi will oversee Botetourt County’s next budget— however it turns out— for another year. The Board of Supervisors approved a year-long extension of her contract at its March meeting.
Her previous two-year contract expired at the end of March. The supervisors approved an addendum to the contract that provides for another year of employment. Buchanan District Supervisor John Williamson said the contract addendum made no change to salary but does provide for an annual rollover. Additionally, there is a 90-day notice if the contract is not going to be renewed.
Guzi came to Botetourt from Bedford County in March 2012, becoming the county’s third administrator since 1985. Interestingly, Williamson also served as Botetourt County’s administrator in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Jerry Burgess served Botetourt as county administrator in interim years, from 1992 to 2012.
Guzi’s initial contract gave her an annual salary of $132,500 and, based on Williamson’s comments at the supervisors meeting, that amount is unchanged.
The supervisors in 2012 were struggling with budget issues when Guzi began her tenure here, and the new slate of supervisors continues to wrangle with monetary needs. The supervisors will hold a public hearing on a proposed fiscal year 2014-2015 budget on April 9, even though they do not have figures from the state for school funding.
The supervisors also passed a resolution urging the Virginia General Assembly to do its job and pass a budget. “Failure to pass a timely budget will result in uncertainty for the County of Botetourt, which receives 19 percent of its funding as direct aid from the Commonwealth,” the resolution says. The Botetourt County School Board passed a similar resolution earlier in March.
The supervisors have decided to keep the tax rates where they are. Currently, the real estate tax is 72 cents per $100 value.
Because the supervisors are not advertising any tax increase at the April 9 public hearing, there will be no opportunity to consider any additional revenues from taxes. By law, the county can lower the advertised rate but not increase it.
According to general preliminary figures provided at the board meeting, the county is presently looking at a proposed $59.5 million budget, not including the total school budget (an estimated $48 million including the county’s contribution). This general fund budget is an increase of 1.3 percent over last year’s $58.8 million budget.
The county will drop its utility capital project expenditures by 71 percent and other capital projects by 32 percent. The supervisors plan to take money from its fund balance in order to make up for increases. “It’s essentially a flat budget,” Williamson said.
The proposed budget adds $815,000 to the school system’s budget.
Williamson said health care costs are the primary drivers of any increases in the county’s general expenses.
“We did make a couple of changes to revenues after reviewing the report on property taxes and bank stock,” Guzi said. Additionally, the county expects a grant that would allow for the purchase of an ambulance. The county also “responded to the sheriff’s need in the form of additional personnel,” by adding a single deputy’s position, and reduced funding for a “much needed fire truck” in the emergency services budget because the county hopes a change in design specifications would decrease the cost, Guzi said. There is also funding for improvements to the parking lot at the Fincastle Volunteer Fire Department.
Additionally, the county removed $140,000 from its budget for software upgrades; Guzi said the upgrades would be spread out over a three-year period instead of two.
She has also requested an additional human resources position for the county. She justified the position by stating that regulatory compliance mandates, changes with the Virginia Retirement System, and other concerns require an additional staff member.
The Proposed FY 15 Budget for Botetourt County has been posted on the county’s website at the following link: http://www.botetourt.org/government/budget.php.
The public hearing will be held Wednesday, April 9, at 7 p.m. at Greenfield Education and Training Center.
The county is not required to adopt a budget until June 30. However, the school budget must be approved and adopted by May 1.