Wednesday, October 5, 2022

York County adopts annual budget that prioritizes schools, safety and public employees

York County's Board of Supervisors passed their budget in York Hall Tuesday evening. (Andrew Harris/WYDaily)
York County’s Board of Supervisors passed their budget in York Hall Tuesday evening. (Andrew Harris/WYDaily)

York County has adopted a budget for fiscal year 2019, and its citizens will not see a tax hike.

The county’s Board of Supervisors unanimously passed the fiscal year 2019 budget Tuesday night at York Hall.

County Administrator Neil Morgan said he achieved three of his four biggest goals for the budget: providing “robust” funding to the York County School Division, higher compensation for county employees, and addressing needs in public safety.

“It meets some of our strategic priorities,” Supervisor Jeff Wassmer said. “I consider it a win-win all around.”

The country raised property taxes last year by about 4 cents per $100 of assessed property value but did not raise them again Tuesday.

The approved budget was roughly $207.3 million, with more than $139 million of that coming from the general fund. The largest slice of the budget was spent on education and educational services, at $64 million.

Another $9 million was allocated for capital improvements for schools, Morgan said.

Roughly $34 million will be spent on public safety.

Morgan said with the budget, the county would be able to purchase another ambulance and a fire truck for York County Fire & Life Safety. Mobile data terminals will also be installed in vehicles belonging to the county’s emergency department, and the terminals will be replaced in York-Poquoson Sheriff’s Office vehicles.

Between four and seven new positions will be created within York County Fire & Life Safety, depending on a federal grants, as well as two new patrol deputies for the sheriff’s office.

County employees will also see a 2-percent pay increase, and those making less than $100,000 annually will receive an additional $750 on top of the 2 percent.

Morgan said he was disappointed to see his fourth goal — the reduction of county debt — fall short because of a reduction in county revenue.

The reduction was largely the result of the reassessed property value of the former Yorktown Refinery, whose valuation was reduced by about 70 percent. The property had been the county’s second-largest taxpayer, and the reassessment will cost the county about $1.4 million in real estate tax revenue annually.

Morgan said there were still two things up in the air that could lead to the budget being revised later in the year.

The first is a potential merger of the county’s emergency dispatch center with that of James City County. James City County is waiting on a consultant’s report before deciding whether to merge, delaying the county’s vote until late in the summer.

The second is SB 942, which could potentially generate more than $4 million for the county if it goes into effect.

The bill will generate revenue for the three Historic Triangle localities by increasing the state sales tax in the City of Williamsburg and James City and York counties by 1 percentage point. Half of the funds will be given directly back to the localities, and the other half will be earmarked for the promotion of regional tourism.

For the bill to pass, the Williamsburg City Council must make the deciding vote and repeal their Tourism Development Fund on May 10.

“All in all, it’s a good budget and three of the four top priorities are addressed pretty well,” Morgan told the board.

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