At the February 15, 2022, Board of Supervisors meeting, County Administrator Frederick J. Presley presented the Fiscal Year (FY) 2023 Proposed Budget. The All Funds Budget totals $700 million with the fiscal year starting July 1, 2022.
FY2023 Proposed Budget
The current real property tax rate is $0.97. The FY2023 proposed real property tax rate is $0.885 per $100 of assessed value, which is an 8.5 cents reduction. Even with this reduction of the tax rate, the proposed rate is 10.5 cents above the effective tax rate of $0.78 after a two-year home reassessment change, which means that the average tax bill would increase by $422 as the average tax bill is $3,416.
Managing historically-high new and used fleet values and keeping with Board guidance, the proposed budget also includes a decrease in the personal property tax rate of sixty-one ($0.61) cents, from $6.10 to $5.49. This action alleviates unnecessary tax burden but also keeps the dedicated transportation funding intact.
"We are experiencing some of the highest economic and market impacts in the last 20 years, and I believe that the proposed budget provides the necessary positions and funding to support community expectations and the Board's priorities," said County Administrator Fred Presley. "This budget keeps up with inflation and market challenges, but also moves the County forward when it comes to public safety, education and transportation, the primary drivers of this budget."
Stafford continues as one of the fastest-growing counties in Virginia. Likewise, Stafford has the region's highest percentage of school students per population among comparative localities. Transportation is still a major priority as Stafford is faced with one of the worst commutes in the nation.
More importantly, prices and the costs of doing business are increasing faster than expected. The Consumer Price Index is the highest it has been in the last 20 years and is accompanied by the highest gas prices in years. On the market side, United States job openings are also the highest they have been in the last 20 years, with Stafford's unemployment rate at a low 2.5%.
FY2023 Proposed Budget
The FY2023 Proposed Budget includes:
- $9.0 million for public safety to include a step and market increase in pay for a total of 6.5%, body cameras for Sheriff's deputies, a new EMS crew and several more initiatives vital for a safe community.
- $8.4 million for education to fund teacher step salary implementation, bus driver salary implementation and per pupil increases for growth, meeting the Superintendent's budget request.
- $4.9 million for over 14 new and ongoing transportation projects, including moving forward on seven Road Bond Safety Road Projects.
- $3.3 million to support efforts to move strategic plan priorities forward and a 2% pay increase and 4.5% salary scale increase for general government employee compensation.
The Capital Improvement Program (CIP)
The FY2023-2026 CIP includes both county and school projects totaling $856 million for the 10-year period. The category with the largest expenditure by percentage is school projects at 67%, followed by transportation at 11% and public safety at 8%.
The driving force for the majority of the school's debt is due to High School #6 coming in at $51 million alone. The CIP continues the Aquia and Rock Hill Fire and Rescue Stations' rebuilds at $5.5 million. A new Courthouse Annex renovation to accommodate population growth is $2.7 million.
The public can participate in a multitude of ways, including coming to Board of Supervisors meetings, public hearings, email, phone and social media. The most important difference this year is the introduction of the OpenGov platform that puts the entire FY2023 Proposed Budget and CIP in the hands of every citizen. You can move graphs, see number breakdowns and drive deeper into the budget, improving communication and transparency with the public.
The FY2023 budget public hearing is scheduled for April 5, 2022, at 7:00 p.m. at the George L. Gordon, Jr., Government Center, 1300 Courthouse Road, Stafford, VA 22554. Online comments are made available to the Board starting April 1, 2022, at www.staffordcountyva.gov/publichearing.