March 16, 2020
Tighter budget hearing access because of virus
File Photo/Lawrence Emerson
The board of supervisors will conduct the annual budget hearing at the Warrenton Community Center because Fauquier High — the traditional venue — and all other county public schools remain closed.
We are strongly encouraging that citizens not attend and to live-stream (the public hearing), which can be accessed through the county website.
— County Administrator Paul McCulla
Proposed fiscal 2021 Fauqiuer County budget; county administrator proposes $357.9 million plan that would raise real estate taxes 3.6 percent.
Warrenton Commuity Center, 430 E. Shirley Ave.
7 p.m. Thursday, March 19.
Board of supervisors.
• Website: Click here
UPDATE: In declaring a local state of emergency, County Administrator Paul McCulla announced Monday night that citizens will not be able to attend the public hearing; they may watch online and submit testimony via email.
Fauquier officials will take extraordinary measures at Thursday’s public hearing on the county’s proposed 2021 budget and tax rates to thwart the spread of the coronavirus.
The 7 p.m. hearing will be held at the Warrenton Community Center at 430 E. Shirley Ave.
But no more than 50 citizens will be permitted to attend the hearing at time — consistent will Gov. Ralph Northam’s Sunday order limiting gatherings to that number to stifle the coronavirus pandemic, County Administrator Paul S. McCulla said Monday.
A Fauquier sheriff’s deputy probably keep track of speakers at the door, said Mr. McCulla, whose $357.9-million spending plan calls for a 3.6-cent real estate tax rate hike.
“When we hit 50 inside, people will be waiting for them to leave” the community meeting room to get a chance to enter and comment the budget proposal, the county administrator explained. “The chairs will be spread out so people will be as far away from each other as possible.”
The board’s remaining budget work sessions also will be moved to the Warrenton Community Center, with the same restrictions, Mr. McCulla said.
“We are strongly encouraging that citizens not attend and to live-stream (the public hearing), which can be accessed through the county website,” he said.
Alternatively, citizens can comment on the budget via mail and email or by telephone, the county administrator said.
Supervisor Rick Gerhardt (Cedar Run) will not attend Thursday’s public hearing. But Mr. Gerhardt will participate in the hearing by phone and live-stream it, Mr. McCulla said.
The remaining four supervisors will sit at separate tables — at least six feet from one another, he said.
The hearing, which often attracts several hundred citizens, would have taken place in the auditorium of Fauquier High School — the event’s traditional location.
But, Gov. Northam on Friday ordered all Virginia public schools closed for the next two weeks, through March 27, because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Fauquier’s real estate tax stands at 99.4 cents per $100 of assessed value.
With the proposed $1.03-rate, the annual tax bill for the “average” single-family home valued at $378,000 would rise to $3,893, according to the county administrator.
That would equate to a $136 increase, up 3.6 percent.
All of the revenue from the proposed real estate tax rate increase would go toward funding emergency services’ and public school requests.
Mr. McCulla’s proposal includes $1.7 million to fund 15 new first responder positions. Those jobs would allow the around-the-clock staffing seven days a week at Goldvein Volunteer Fire Department station. The proposed budget also would fund career staffing at The Plains and Lois stations 12 hours a day, seven days a week.
Mr. McCulla’s proposal includes money for eight other full-time county government positions. It also eliminates two vacant full-time posts.
Superintendent David Jeck’s proposed operating budget for public schools totals $155.8 million — up 5.1 percent for fiscal 2021.
Dr. Jeck’s plan calls for an increase of $3.8 million in county funding. The local share of education funding would rise 4.1 percent to $96.9 million. Mr. McCulla’s plan gives the school system $2.8 million in local money.
Mr. McCulla’s proposed budget includes approximately $1 million for a 1.5-percent cost-of-living and 1-percent merit raises for county government employees.
A penny on the real estate tax rate generates about $1.15 million in revenue.
The new fiscal year starts July 1.
Contact Don Del Rosso at Don@FauquierNow.com or 540-270-0300.
• March 17: Supervisors work session, 2 p.m., Warrenton Community Center, 430 E. Shirley Ave.
• March 19: Supervisors/school board joint work session work session, 4:30 p.m., Warrenton Community Center.
• March 19: Supervisors’ public hearing on proposed budget, tax rates and 2021-2025 capital improvements plan, 7 p.m., Warrenton Community Center.
• March 24: Supervisors work session, 4 p.m., Warrenton Community Center.
• March 26: Supervisors adopt budget, tax rates and fiscal 2021-25 CIP, 4 p.m., Warrenton Community Center.
• July 1: Fiscal 2021 budget begins.
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