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Fauquier FY 2016 budget addresses needs

Tuesday, Mar. 31 | By James Ivancic
The Fauquier County Board of Supervisors undoubtedly made some people happy with its approval on March 19 of a 2016 fiscal year budget, five-year capital improvements budget, and setting of a tax rate.

County employees are getting 2 percent raises, Clerk of Courts Gail Barb received extra funds to hire another clerk, there's an increase of $1.3 million in local support to the school division, $5.050,000 in the capital improvements budget in each of the next two years for a new central library with a design and location still under study, and there's $3.6 million in the CIP for the public safety communications system.

In capital improvement spending for recreation, $200,000 is budgeted for ball fields, trails and playground renovations and upgrades, $1.5 million for a northern county swimming pool project, and $3.6 million for the long-awaited Central Sports Complex.

There is $5.08 million for a transfer station at the Corral Farms Landfill site now that supervisors have approved reducing the amount of waste buried there in favor of shipping elsewhere for disposal. Local matching funds of $318,500 have been provided for expansion or improvements at the Warrenton-Fauquier Airport.

CIP funds totaling $5 million in fiscal year 2017 and 2018 are earmarked for renovation or expansion of middle schools.

A total of $138,000 is available for the fire and rescue service to lease three ambulances for five years.

The board also approved $100,000 to create business incubator sites in the Scott and Marshall districts with a shared staff assisting new companies get off the ground. The one in the Scott District will be located in Vint Hill, the other in Marshall. Scott Supervisor Holder Trumbo said the two incubators will function like the Mason Enterprise Center in Warrenton. A single staff member will float between the two offices.

The total FY 2016 adopted budget beginning July 1 stands at $297.1 million. The supervisors thanked the county staff for their work.Adjustments were allowed in this second year of a two-year budget cycle if there was a change in revenue projections, if there were new state or federal mandates or if an emergency occurred.

Marshall District Supervisor Peter Schwartz said the switch to a two-year budget cycle has benefited “the mental health of the supervisors” by reducing the stress level and he thanked Trumbo for suggesting it.

A public hearing on the budget two weeks ago drew just a few speakers and no expressions of outrage. The supervisors thanked the county staff for their work on the budget.

The overall real estate tax rate increases $.007 to $0.999 per $100 assessed value. The average homeowner's real estate tax bill will increase about $22 per year based on an average residential assessment of $321,300. All other tax rates stay the same.

The raises for county employees, the second since 2008, were made possible thanks to additional revenue from the state, the elimination of a reduction in aid to localities, and adjustments in debt service expenditures. The county is covering the cost of increases in health insurance premiums.

County Administrator Paul McCulla thanked the board for providing a raise to county employees “so that they are able to continued to live and work in our county.”

The board also approved revisions in a storm water management fee to exempted properties with an assessed value of $2,500 or less and parcels included in the tax relief for the elderly or permanently and totally disabled. The fee generated complaints from those with small parcels of land and those living on a fixed income.

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