County Administrator, Thomas C. Foley, presented the Proposed FY2019 Budget to the Stafford County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, March 6. The proposed $573 million all funds budget addresses several of the board's priorities on public safety, education, service excellence, infrastructure, economic development and fiscal responsibility. The budget presentation focuses on positioning the county for the future by addressing our growth impacts. As our community grows, the service expectations grow affecting everything from public safety, transportation, utilities, courts, schools and other vital services.
The proposed FY2019 Budget recommends reducing the real estate tax rate to $0.965 per $100 of assessed value from $0.99. The real estate tax bill for the average single-family home is $2,908 and is up $145 from the year before. It is important to understand that reassessments are conducted every other year in Stafford County, and this is a reassessment year affecting values more than in off years.
Out of the five budget drivers presented, education is the budget's top funding priority. Of new local tax revenue growth, approximately 57 percent is dedicated to education. The FY019 proposed allocation to the school system would be over $119 million, a $3.56 million increase over fiscal 2018 to fund growth needs and additional allocation support to address the school’s priorities and needs, as well as, public day school funding.
Additionally, Foley stressed the county’s obligations to fund the Children Services Act “CSA,” a state-mandated program that supports the education of students with special needs placed in private day school placements when their needs cannot be met within the school division. The school division determines these placement through an Individual Education Plan “IEP” team meeting. This program has seen costs trend upwards over the last few years. “This due diligence is a strategic decision that ensures that this rising cost is managed appropriately for the future,” stated Foley.
Furthermore, the average annual cost per child has risen from $50,430 to a projected $72,000 serving over 93 children annually. The cost of student placements is solely based upon the level of service required for the student. This cost is unpredictable and ranges anywhere from $45,000 to $105,000 annually per student. This budget accommodates this unpredictably by projecting the rising costs. To help mitigate these costs, Foley proposes allocating an additional $2.69 million to the education mandates within the CSA program. Additionally, Foley proposes allocating an increase of $285,000 to the public day school. This includes funding for a teacher, behavioral support aides, and paraprofessionals to support an additional six students with special needs. This partnership between the school and county provides another resource for the school division to serve special needs students who do not require the level of service offered by private day schools but need a more controlled and supportive environment.
The proposed budget includes $1.97 million for public safety personnel and recruitment strategies, the second highest funded budget driver. "The community is growing, and the need for more deputies and firefighters is a key segment of this budget,” Foley pointed out. With continued competition for quality staff from neighboring jurisdictions, competitive retirement benefits and volunteer recruitment strategies were also included.
Also included in the proposed budget is a 2 percent pay increase for county employees at the cost of $1.12 million. This initiative, along with another $625,000 for targeted marketed-based pay increases, allows the county to stay competitive and secure high-quality staff committed to service excellence.
A final budget driver focuses on the community’s well-being in addressing efforts to support our social services department as they manage federal programs to include Medicaid and Medicare. Dedicating $408,000 to their staffing plans enables the agency to acquire six new employees—two of which are contingent on state Medicaid funding—tackling heavy caseloads and supporting quality service.
Following is the proposed budget calendar* at the Stafford Government Center at 1300 Courthouse Road in Stafford:
- Budget Work Session – March 13 at 2:00 p.m.
- Budget Work Session – March 20 at 12:00 p.m.
- Joint Budget Work Session with the School Board – March 20 at 5:00 p.m.
- Budget Work Session – March 27 at 2:00 p.m.
- Budget Public Hearing for Tax Rate and CIP – April 3 at 7:00 p.m.
- Budget Work Session – April 17 at 1:30 p.m.
- Board Resolutions for the FY2019 Budget, CIP and Tax Rates – April 17 at 3:00 p.m.
- Public Hearing for Service District Tax Rates – April 17 at 7:00 p.m.
- Board Resolutions for the Service District Tax Rates – April 17 at 7:00 p.m.
*These meetings are subject to change and will be updated at www.staffordcountyva.gov
If people are unable to attend meetings in person, you can visit Stafford County where you can find your Board member’s contact information to send them your comments. If you are looking for proposed budget documents, please visit Proposed Budget. Any general questions can be sent to Stafford County Community Engagement.