$52 million budget approved

Published 12:42 pm Wednesday, May 13, 2020

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The Charlotte County Board of Supervisors (BOS) approved the FY 2021 county budget in a 6 to 1 vote Monday, May 11.

Vice-Chairman Gary Walker cast the only no vote on the $52,930,182 budget. The approved budget includes $26,555,140 in school funding of which $3,906,775 will be local funds.

Walker did not explain his reasoning for his no vote during the meeting.

Following the meeting, Tuesday, May 12, Walker said he voted no because he did not feel it was the right time to borrow $7 million more dollars for school projects.

“I suggested that we wait until we see what the financial situation of all this will be,” Walker said. “I’ve always tried to support the schools in what they ask for, but we need to make good business decisions.”

It was during the BOS May 4 budget work session that Walker spoke up to say, “If something is in the budget, it does not necessarily mean it needs to be spent,”

In April, Charlotte County Fire and Rescue Association President Walt Bailey requested emergency funding from the BOS to help offset what he said departments were losing due to not being able to fundraise in April and May due to the pandemic.

According to Bailey, the months of April and May are historically when fire departments hold fundraisers such as stews, chicken dinners, boot drives, or send out donation letters.

With social distancing and stay-at-home mandates in effect, those types of fundraisers cannot be held.

“We are losing up to 20% of income due to not fundraising, and we don’t know when we can start again or if people will be able to support us as they have in the past,” Bailey said.

According to Bailey, that percentage loss equates to about $5,000 for each department in the county.

Included in the adopted budget was $35,000 in emergency funding for the fire departments. Each of the county’s seven departments will get $5,000.

The original advertised budget called for $53,413,566 of that $27,066,198 was listed for school funding.

County Administrator Dan Witt explained the difference in the two budgets.

“The changes in the county’s budget was a decrease of $7,335 due to the minimum wage increase delayed until May 1, 2021 instead of January 1, 2021, and a $35,000 increase to the Fire Departments,” Witt said. “With these changes the $33,775 balance of revenues transferred to general fund balance was reduced by $27,655 leaving $6,110 to be transferred to the general fund balance.”

The school system also received a reduction in funds from the commonwealth in the amount of $511,049.

In addition to approving the FY 2021, budget BOS members also voted to approve the county’s tax rates. On a motion by Vice Chairman Walker, the vote passed unanimously, keeping the tax rates the same as the year prior.

Real estate and mobile home taxes are 62 cents per $100 of assessed value. Personal property is $3.95 per $100 in assessed value. The machinery and tool tax is $3.00 per $100 of assessed value.