I hope this installment of our newsletter finds you well and healthy!
If you didn’t view or listen to our meeting on Monday, you can do so here via YouTube: https://youtu.be/IL6Kz_kzpEM. Our Monday, April 20 meeting will also be live streamed here.
Please remember to pray for those who are on the front lines of battling COVID-19, those who have tested positive, and those who have died. This week we lost the pastor of Oak Hill Baptist Church, the Rev. Jesse Johnson, who lived outside the county. Please pray for his family and the church.
Rejuvenating the Anti Litter Task Force
I am very excited and pleased to announce that we are in the process of bringing life back to the Buckingham Anti-Litter Task Force! I led that effort with a motion to appoint 2-3 people from each Election District to the Task Force to clean up our roadways in Buckingham County. For far too long we have seen too much litter along our roads, and it looks bad, simply put. And together, we can solve this problem, and this is the first step toward that. Myself and District Three Supervisor Don Matthews will serve on that Task Force, along with volunteers like yourself. If you are interested in being a member, picking up trash, or helping in any way, please contact me or your Supervisor.
Projected Revenue Losses From the State
Studies and projections are showing that Buckingham County will lose $431,016 in this current fiscal year (FY19-20) and more than $1 million in the upcoming fiscal year (FY20-21). These are projections as a result of COVID-19 Virus, namely business closings and other severe economic ramifications. We will have to make some hard decisions in the coming months as to balance our budgets. We are very fortunate that our County Administrator has budgeted very conservatively over the years, and we have a healthy reserve and fund balance. That doesn’t mean that we may not have to cut and trim though. These projections and forecasts will surely change as this situation unfolds, and I promise to keep you updated on that and our actions.
Public Hearings on The Budget and Tax Rates
We held public hearings on our proposed $57 million budget, along with a hearing on the proposed, unchanged tax rates. You can read more on my stance on the budget and tax rates here: https://milesformaysville.com/2020/03/29/my-thoughts-on-the-proposed-effective-real-estate-tax-increase-and-school-funding-proposal/.
Here is part of my March statement on reducing the tax burden on our community:First, I commend the County Administrator and her staff for working hard in putting together a budget that reflects the wants and needs of our county and its citizens.
Due to the reassessment of real property, the proposed budget reflects an effective real estate tax increase. This means that although the tax rate will remain at 55 cents, the increased revenue reflects the overall increase in values of property of about 10 percent. So the property values are driving the increase in what many people will pay in their taxes for their homes and real estate. This percentage may change based on appeals by landowners to the Board of Equalization. I implore and highly stress to any landowner who is unhappy with their reassessment to appeal to them.
There’s no doubt that COVID-19 has rocked our reality, our economy, and the livelihoods in our Commonwealth, including Buckingham. People here have lost their incomes and jobs and their hours have been cut, and more will lose their jobs before this virus has run its course, I predict.
Just like any other business or family, the county has to live within its means, and that essentially means having enough money in the bank to operate. We’re operating in unprecedented times and in uncharted waters and I suspect our collection rate will take a hit. With less revenue coming in, it will likely unbalance our proposed budget, which would mean cutting our budget.
While I do not support the effective tax increase, forecasting has already shown that the approved state budget over the next two years will have to be cut by at least $2 billion dollars. That cut will trickle down and affect Buckingham County. State legislators are already considering putting employee increases on the chopping block. Such action will be just one of many financial consequences that we may see down the line.
Only two people sent comments regarding the proposed tax rates and the proposed budget, which greatly disappoints me when I have heard from many of my constituents who noted they are not in support of paying more taxes because of the assessment.
I am in favor of reducing the real estate tax rate to give our residents some relief as many people in the county have lost their jobs, are underemployed, and more have been directly and indirectly impacted by this situation. And the people deserve some relief, even on the local level.
We are set to meet on Monday, April 20, 2020 at 6 p.m. to adopt tax rates and the fiscal year 2020-2021 operating budget. I hope you will reach out to be before then as to how you feel about this.
Adding More Rescue Squad Coverage
Our volunteer force with the Buckingham Volunteer Rescue Squad are not running calls now because of the potential exposure to COVID-19, which means county staff and the board had to quickly explore alternative ways of keeping our community safe and secure with rescue services.
As a result, the Board of Supervisors has agreed to contract with DRT to provide 24/7 response to our county’s residents, which means adding an additional squad vehicle and a crew.
Because this us happening during COVID-19, the county will receive the cost recovery for any calls this crew responds to. The squad will be housed at the Glenmore Rescue Squad Building on Glenmore Road. The cost of this, again, which will be recovered by Federal Emergency Management Assistance (FEMA) Funds and revenue collection, is about $49,500 per month. Again, this is a temporary contract and we will get reimbursed because of this national, state, and local emergency.
Additional School Funding
I was proud to support motions offered to provide carry over funding from the 2018-2019 School Transportation Fund to the current year’s school board for the purpose of purchasing two special education vans and a special education school bus for $140,000. This is money much needed and I am proud to support our schools and staff, but more importantly, our students. In addition, I supported the motion to carry over funds to the current fiscal year of roughly $292,020 in cafeteria funds. Regarding the remainder of the carry over funds, we voted to hold a joint session with the school board to determine their priorities for capital improvements. I am looking forward to that meeting and discussion.
COVID-19 in Buckingham
Presently, of this writing, we have 22 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Buckingham. Cody Davis, our Emergency Management Coordinator, reported Monday that the cases are spread across Buckingham, and not only concentrated in one area. Please continue to practice social distancing, wear masks when you’re out and around people, and limit all travel to essential business per the governor’s orders.
PLEASE CALL OR EMAIL ME!
I’d like to think by now that you feel more than welcome to call, email, text or visit me (using social distancing for the time being). If you have any comments, ideas, criticisms, compliments, or anything to say regarding my representing you on the Buckingham Board of Supervisors, please get in touch with me. You can call/text me at 434-390-7023, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or come see me at 13170 W. James Anderson Highway in the court house village. I would be pleased and happy to hear from you anytime.