Stafford County will hold a budget public hearing on Tuesday, April 7, 2020, at 7:00 p.m. in the Board Chambers of the George L. Gordon, Jr., Government Center. The County is required by the State Code to hold a budget public hearing at least seven days prior to the adoption of the budget each year. Additionally, if the advertised tax rate exceeds the equalized tax rate in reassessment years, a public hearing is required.
Why is the County moving ahead with the public hearing given the COVID-19 emergencies declared by the federal, state and local governments? The Governor’s Executive Order #53 is explicit in that it does not limit (or provide a waiver for) “the operation of government.” In addition, Executive Order #55 (Stay-at-home Order) reinforces Order #53. On an annual basis, the County must adhere to budget and tax-related deadlines required by the State Code. In reassessment years, those deadlines become tighter because a longer advertisement period is required ahead of the public hearing. Rescheduling of the hearing would require the longer advertisement period to restart and would set the whole budget process back to the point that the County would not be able to accomplish the remaining steps in the budget and tax-related processes to meet the State Code requirements.
How can I view the meeting if I am being told to stay home? Stafford County stresses the importance of staying home during this emergency period. As always, Stafford County streams the meeting online by visiting www.staffordcountyva.gov. It is always viewable on Comcast Channel 23, Cox Channel 90 and Verizon Channel 39. In addition, we have begun to stream our meetings on Facebook Live, though comments provided on Facebook will not be considered as public comments.
How can I participate in the public hearing with the declared health emergency? An online form is accessible by visiting www.staffordcountyva.gov/publichearings. You must fill out this form for it to be provided to the board and be part of the official record. The form will be accessible from the Thursday the Board agenda is posted to the County website to the close of public comments at the following Tuesday Board meeting. If you plan on attending, contrary to recommendations to stay at home, presentations by the public and public hearing comments will be facilitated outside of the George L. Gordon, Jr., Government Center. Outdoor presentations include a camera and microphone set up to accommodate speakers from the public. Audio from the meeting will be broadcasted outside.
For your safety and the safety of the community at large during this on-going COVID-19 coronavirus health emergency, citizens wishing to comment are highly encouraged to submit written comments online to be read into the public record at the broadcasted hearing rather than attending in person. The Budget Public Hearing scheduled for April 7, 2020, is for allowing the public to make comment on any matter pertaining to the FY 2021 Budget, the 2020 tax rates, Water and Sewer Fees and the FY 2021 – FY 2025 Capital Improvement Plan.
Any questions, please contact 540-658-8600.