Wednesday, May 25, 2022

York County supes approve new tax levies, ambulance rates and 2021 budget changes

(WYDaily file/Courtesy of Pixabay)
(WYDaily file/Courtesy of Pixabay)

For the foreseeable future, items on local government public meetings will mostly involve everything coronavirus, from budget adjustments, emergency response, to planning.

It held true Tuesday when the York County Board of Supervisors discussed — during a virtual meeting — a number of topics pertaining to pandemic.

The board approved a resolution that would allow the county to impose tax levies upon items such as personal property and mobile homes for the 2020 calendar year as part of the new fiscal budget for 2021, according to meeting documents.

The new revised budget was first presented to the board on March 17 by Neil Morgan, the county’s administrator, and then again on April 21 and approved on Tuesday.

While the presentation Tuesday showed the total overall budget remains the same as in previous iterations, there have been changes made to functional areas in the general fund, most significantly being a previous calculation error in attrition savings.

As a result, the General Fund Budget will remain at $143,659,900.

During a presentation in April, Morgan said the predicted loss of revenue from consumer taxes will mostly come from sales tax, tourism sales tax, hotel tax and meals tax. There will be a $4.2 million shortfall for the county in the General Fund.

The new revised budget prepares for an estimated revenue reduction of approximately $7 million.

Morgan suggested an immediate hiring freeze on non-essential employees, a reduction in non-essential spending, a decrease in capital spending and the tracking of any expenditures related to the pandemic to make up for those losses.

That includes cutting out a previously proposed increase of $1.7 million for the York County School Division.

However, the board passed a resolution Tuesday that designates a portion of the county’s real property tax to the local school system in accordance with Public Law 874, which requires the county to contribute to the school division’s budget.

“This is a peculiar little hoop we have to jump through in order to secure our very important federal aid impact for the schools, which this year is budgeted at the amount of $8.7 million,” Morgan said. 

He said the resolution tells the federal government how much it would be if money to the schools from the county were based on the real estate tax. Morgan said with this budget, it would be just under 80 percent. 

“Every year you all pass something like this, whatever the math works out to be in that particular year, and that’s one of the things that qualifies us for that particular impact aid,” Morgan said.

The new budget also will postpone some previously planned capital spending — the board approved a resolution for the new Capital Improvements program, which was originally presented in February and then updated following the pandemic in April.

“As the board knows, you appropriate the first year of the capital plan and the rest of it is the out-plan for [the future],” Morgan said. 

Morgan said the the revised budget essentially designates about $1 million for the school division and $1.5 million for the county. The rest of the CIP funds are moved and will give the county the opportunity to take another look in the fall and winter as to when certain plans can be designated.

When considering various projects, criteria will be the size of the project and whether or not the design process has already started. 

“The main reason for pushing the CIP out is not the immediate impact on the budget but the debt savings down the road,” he said. “For example, if this is a V-recession, things might go back to the way they were and we might be able to maintain the CIP the way we planned…but if we get to the fall and the prospects are not as good, then we would have to move things.”

That applies to certain CIP projects such as the new design of the sheriff’s office headquarters and a major renovation of the public safety building, he said. 

The board also approved a resolution that allows the county to increase fees associated with ambulance usage. The county administrator can now establish rates for mileage and fees associated with various levels of ambulance transport up to 150 percent of Medicare rates.

Morgan referred to that as “compassionate billing” and said there are different rates for different kinds of transportation, which becomes cheaper depending on the medical services and mileage accumulated. So if a person receives EMS care, a bill will be sent to their insurance company to pay 150 percent of the Medicare-allowable rate or if they have Medicare it will be billed through that method.

“If you have neither of those, you get the bill and we hope that you pay it,” Morgan said. “But if you don’t, we don’t send a bill collector after you.”

Morgan said the county wants residents to know they should never fear calling an ambulance because of the cost.

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Alexa Doironhttp://wydaily.com
Alexa Doiron is a multimedia reporter for WYDaily. She graduated from Roanoke College and is currently working on a master’s degree in English at Virginia Commonwealth University. Alexa was born and raised in Williamsburg and enjoys writing stories about local flair. She began her career in journalism at the Warhill High School newspaper and, eight years later, still loves it. After working as a news editor in Blacksburg, Va., Alexa missed Williamsburg and decided to come back home. In her free time, she enjoys reading Jane Austen and playing with her puppy, Poe. Alexa can be reached at alexa@localvoicemedia.com.

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