The Orange County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously last Tuesday to adopt and appropriate a consolidated $106 million fiscal year 2020 budget free of any tax or rate increases. 

The consolidated budget is 2.4 percent higher than the current county budget and includes a general fund total of $27.8 million, $34.5 million toward county operations and $57.5 million toward school operations.

On Tuesday, April 16, the board of supervisors held public hearings on both the proposed tax rates and proposed operating and capital budget. While no one spoke about the unchanged tax rates, three people offered comments on the proposed budget.

Ann Kloeckner, the executive director of Legal Aid Works, thanked the county for its support of the organization which offers free civil legal services to low-income citizens. OC Lacrosse representative Connie Norberg also thanked the county for its support of the nonprofit which allows students an opportunity to play lacrosse as a club sport.

However, chair of the Orange County Library Board of Trustees David Kraus asked the county to restore a position it had eliminated from the library budget. On behalf of the library board, Kraus urged the supervisors to fund a circulation supervisor position “to allow the library director to have more time to devote to a number of activities.”

There were no comments offered by the supervisors following the public hearings. State code prohibits local jurisdictions to adopt their budgets any sooner than seven days after the public hearings.

With unanimous votes a week later, the supervisors voted to both adopt and appropriate a $106 million consolidated budget for fiscal year 2020. The board also unanimously voted to adopt an ordinance to establish the tax levies.

Following the vote, Orange County Administrator Bryan David thanked county staff for its hard work throughout the budget planning season, which began last October. Meanwhile, supervisors expressed their satisfaction with having a balanced budget free of any tax increases, and funded with organic growth.

“I think that says a lot about the staff and all the planning,” District 4 Supervisor Jim Crozier stated.

“Our plan was and our adopted financial policies state that we’re going to live within our means and not use tax increases as an easy out,” added District 1 Supervisor Mark Johnson. “So far we’ve stuck to our guns and done that. With increased revenue coming in we’ve done well.”

In 2015, the supervisors adopted a financial policy guideline which lays out the county’s commitment to “have appropriately scaled local government services and programs that are funded at levels to sufficiently meet the needs and expectations of our citizens and businesses consistent with the revenues and economic capacity of the county.”

Chairman Jim White said he applauded staff for working within the established guidelines.

“This budget is built from the bottom up. it really starts with a call to all the department heads and asks them to start defining the changes that they’re recommending and those kinds of things,” he said. “I think there’s a certain discipline that’s been part of that and people aren’t asking for things that don’t fit within the broad policy that we’ve established and so we’re in a good place.”

The county budget and financial policies can be viewed on the county’s website at http://orangecountyva.gov/.

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