Charlottesville City Council Puts Fiscal Year 2023 Budget to Vote | local government

Charlottesville City Council will make a decision on how millions of dollars will be used for the city at a special meeting Tuesday when they vote on whether to approve the fiscal year 2023 budget.

The city has held budget-specific working sessions, forums and public hearings in addition to regular city council meetings since January. During these meetings, councilors and city staff discussed budget priorities and various amendments to the original budget plan.

On Tuesday, councilors will consider several factors before voting to approve a budget, some of which have changed since the budget was originally presented.

While City Council originally announced in February that it could raise the property tax rate to as much as 10 cents per $100 of assessed value, the tide appears to be heading for a much smaller increase of one cent per 100. $ of assessed value. This is partly due to a projected surplus of $12 million for the current fiscal year.

“We generally haven’t tried to factor into our thinking a surplus that we expect in the fiscal year we’re in right now,” Mayor Lloyd Snook said at a recent meeting. “This surplus is generally not fully known.”

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The proposed municipal budget is over $216.17 million, an increase of 12.46% over the current fiscal year.

City departments submitted a total of $94.4 million in base budget requests for next fiscal year, which is 7.4% more than enacted departmental budgets for fiscal year 2022. Unlike previous years, there is no There were no restrictions on submitting the department’s budget for this budget cycle.

In addition to base budgets, departments submitted $10.7 million in new requests and $1.05 million was added to the proposal to fund seven new full-time positions to meet needs in key areas , including neighborhood development services, human resources and public works.

The police department’s budget is expected to increase by more than $1.3 million and includes a 7.1% increase in salary expenditures.

Councilors were less enthusiastic about raising the property tax rate due to the increase in property assessments in the city to an average of 11.69%. However, a 10-cent raise was originally seen as one of the only ways to fund the renovation and expansion of Buford Middle School, a project known as reconfiguration. Recent funding scenarios the city is considering could allow the city to fund the project without the 10-cent increase.

Snook continues to oppose any increase in the property tax rate due to rising assessments. However, the other four councilors expressed support for a one-cent increase that would allow the city to build a funding pool for future projects, including school projects.

During a working session on Thursday, councilors agreed to invest $250,000 in the property tax relief fund to counter the negative effects the increase could have on low-income families and to place funds raised by the increase in the capital improvement program. .

Councilors expressed general support for a 0.05% increase in the meal tax rate, with most councillors, with the exception of Vice Mayor Juandiego Wade, wanting to keep the property tax rate the same.

The reconfiguration of schools has been at the center of discussions and debates over the city’s budget this year. The renovation would bring 57-year-old Buford Middle School up to modern standards and better support students with more natural light in classrooms, more spaces to collaborate and a safer campus.

Buford’s renovation is the first phase of a multi-pronged reconfiguration project for the school system that has been underway since 2009. In the project, the Upper Primary School would be eliminated, sixth graders would join seventh and eighth graders at Buford and fifth-grade students would return to their elementary schools for one more year.

Acting City Manager Michael C. Roberts has recommended delaying the reconfiguration project, but councilors are looking for ways to complete the project, even if it is scaled back.

The $76 million price tag has been controversial. Councilors appear to be leaning towards backing a $68.8 million model project that would be funded over the next few years through the city’s capital and bond improvement program.

The proposed budget fully funds the City of Charlottesville Schools funding request of $62,925,964, an increase of 6.7% over the current year. The proposed capital improvement program budget includes additional funds for reconfiguration.

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