City Council Approves First Read of FY 2017 Budget

by | Apr 26, 2016 | Government

By Susan Larson. File photo copyright Fredericksburg Today.

Fredericksburg City Council voted 6 to 1 on the first reading April 26 to approve the City Manager’s $90 million recommended FY 2017 budget.

During several work sessions, City Council made $107,300 in changes to the recommended general fund, according to Budget Manager Deidre Jett. These included an additional $3,000 for the Fredericksburg Sister Cities program, $12,563 for the Fredericksburg Alliance, and $95,427 for costs associated with an additional EMS position.

During Tuesday night’s work session, City Council also directed staff to add $5,000 for the Fredericksburg Arts Commission.

City Schools
Councilor Brad Ellis voted against the budget, because it falls some $800,000 short of the school board’s requested funding. “I am in favor of a budget that meets our teacher’s needs,” Ellis said.

Before the vote, Councilor Ellis said he’d identified $1.5 million in the recommended budget that could be reallocated for the schools. The one time projects included:

– $500,000 for Riverfront Park
– $100,000 Wheeled Refuge Carts
– $105,000 Restrooms in Memorial (Kenmore) Park
– $250,000 Renwick Repairs

Councilor Kerry Devine, a teacher in the city schools, disagreed. “It’s the school board’s discretion how to use their money,” she said. “They’re more than capable of doing that to provide for teachers and students. The ball’s in their court, and that’s where it should stay.”

Council Matt Kelly applauded Ellis’s efforts, but said meeting the needs of the public is a balancing act. “With every budget we do, there’s not a department in the city that gets everything they request,” he said.

Tax Rates
The budget does not include any increases in fees or tax rates. However, the city has advertised a tax rate of 79 cents.

“The proposed tax rate of 77 cents is an equalized rate based on the real estate assessment currently underway,” Jett said. “The total assessed value of real property, excluding additional assessments due to new construction or improvements to property, is expected to exceed last year’s rate by 7.33 percent. As a result, a lowered rate was necessary to offset the increased assessment. The City advertised a rate of 79 cents. If adopted by City Council, this effective tax rate would be a 2.6 percent increase.”

A public hearing is scheduled for May 10. If approved, the budget would be adjusted.

Councilor Chuck Frye said residents who would find the tax rate increase a hardship could avail the appeals process, which allows residents to debate the value of their property. There are also assistance programs available from the city, which members of council said should be publicized if the new tax rate is approved.

Budget Details
For details on the budget, see FY 2017 Operating and Capital Budget Resolution. The second read and final vote will be held during the 7:30 p.m. City Council meeting on Tuesday, May 10.

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Fredericksburg FY 2017 Budget Hearing Scheduled April 19

Fredericksburg Hosts Facebook Q&A on FY 2017 Budget

City Council Begins Review of $90M Recommended Budget

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