Budget has no increase in local tax
NEW CASTLE – Craig County employees will get a small increase next year, but the county’s residents won’t have to pay more taxes.
For the upcoming fiscal year 2011-2012 Craig County will operate on a $12,566,599- budget. Members of the Craig County Board of Supervisors passed the budget for the next fiscal year at their regular May meeting on May 5.
“Actually we are in the process of reassessment and any change in the real estate tax will become effective Jan. 1, 2012,” said Craig County Administrator Richard Flora, “so we don’t usually like to increase taxes the year before reassessment.”
Although the budget couldn’t support raises for county employees, supervisors had approved a resolution in April to give staff a one-time stipend in the amount of $500 per employee.
However, Craig County Treasurer Jackie Parsons appeared at the meeting on behalf of county employees opposing the $500 stipend. She said it was not fair since Craig County Public Schools had budgeted for a 5 percent stipend for their employees including the administrative staff.
Parsons also pointed out the Craig County Department of Social Services and employees of Craig County Child Care Center had received an across-the-board raise in December 2010 when the Social Services Board voted to give them a 3-percent salary increase.
“As Constitutional officers and department managers we asked for nothing this year because we were told there wasn’t enough money in the budget to support salary increases and we know that times are tough,” Parsons said. “All we’re asking now is that all county employees be treated equally and fairly when it comes to raises and bonuses.”
Following a closed session, supervisors voted to amend the budget to give county employees a one-time stipend of 3 percent of their eligible annual salary with an overall cap in the budget of $35,000. That means no stipend would exceed $1,050 or be less than $500, Flora said.
The total amount for raises added up to $30,192.43 including FICA. That added an additional $13,657.43 to the original $16,535 already been set aside in the General Fund for the one-time stipend.
In a telephone interview later, Parsons said county employees had no problem with school employees getting a 5 percent one-time stipend that came from $192,000 in federal funds. However, she said, they didn’t think it was fair the board voted to allow the schools to take the administrative staff’s stipend amounting to $27,000 out of the Capital Improvement Fund’s line item earmarked for bleachers.
During the closed session supervisors agreed to amend the budget not to include the stipend for administrative staff.
Members of the Craig County Board of Supervisors did not get a raise and haven’t had one in 24 years, Flora said. In fact, last year supervisors even gave up money allotted to them for expenses so that the library could have money.
Flora said the budget revenue “has ended up about the same as last year’s despite a $500,000 shortage when supervisors started working on it back in March. However, after the school board worked with our board and the Department of Social Services made some revisions in their original budget, we now have a balanced budget that did not require a tax rate increase.”
He added, “The good thing about this is the school system had saved some money over the years that has been sitting is a Rainy Day Fund, “and School Superintendent Ron Gordon made the decision to move $266,616 from that fund to the budget for next year and in addition cut $77,000 from the amount originally requested. That really helped us out,” Flora said.
He said Craig County has the same amount of revenue as last year, “Although the state has cut us some. We had a little more in revenue from other sources to make up for it, and that’s a good thing,” Flora added. “At least we have the revenue to work with.”