Budget Questions and Responses

During the budget development process, staff takes note of the questions asked by Board members and provides written responses to questions for which responses were not readily available at the time the questions were asked.

Below is the list of the questions received to date.  Please click here for the complete file (file size 8.8KB) containing the frequently asked questions and Board questions and responses.

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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

 

1

How does Spotsylvania’s personal property and real estate tax rates compare to other localities in the area?

Response

2

By year, how much have we received in fuel tax revenue for transportation? How much has been allocated, and to which projects?

Response

3

What are the various pots of funding available, i.e., sidewalk, transportation, reserve, tourism, etc. and how much is in each? Any specific rules for how they can be used?

Response

4

Provide a historical comparison of compensation adjustments for the Schools and the County.

Response

5

What is the full year impact of the Company 11 staff partially funded in FY 2016? What is the full year impact in FY 2018 for items partially funded in FY 2017?

Response

6

Of the developments that have been approved in the past 20 years, how many are still to be built out for each development?

Response

7

Provide student enrollment and projections. How has actual student enrollment compared to enrollment projections for both September 30/October 1 enrollment and March 31 enrollment over the past five years?

What is the historical student enrollment broken down by school and by grade level?

Response

8

Are proffers applied to capital projects to reduce debt?

Response

9

What is the impact of the reassessment on values? What is the impact to residential and commercial taxpayers at the $0.83 equalized rate and at the $0.86 recommended rate? What is the impact to the average (mean) residential taxpayer comparing $0.83 and $0.86?

Response

10

Why is the overall change in assessed values sometimes stated as 6.4% and in other cases stated as 6.1%?

Response

 

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BOARD QUESTIONS

 

1

What was the General Fund transfer to the Capital Projects Fund in FY 2016? What is it in FY 2017?

Response

2

In what districts did the 2014 referendum pass? Fail?

Response

3

Provide more details on the Senior Accountant that will focus on internal audit. What are the pros and cons of hiring the position versus contracting out?

Response

4

Why is the School Operating Fund increasing?

Response

5

How much does the average taxpayer pay per penny for personal property?

Response

6

What percentage increase is the jail increase? Why is our share increasing? Are the other participating localities experiencing an increase as well?

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7

What would the real estate tax rate have to be for no one to have an increase in the real estate tax bill?

Response

8

How much do we spend on tourism?

Response

9

How do we rank in the region in terms of population growth for the past 5 years? What’s driving the recent growth rate statistics? Births outweighing deaths? People moving to the County?

Response

10

What payment do planning commissioners receive now? What would it cost to increase that payment to $1,000?

Response

11

Why is it that for some functions the “Recommended Budget” is greater than the “Requested Budget?”

Response

12

Why do we assess at 50% on personal property rather than at 100%?

Response

13

How are existing homes compared and how are comps used for the residential reassessment?

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14

How do we take into account the stores that have closed (i.e., Best Buy) in the reassessment? How are they valued?

Response

15

What would the real estate and personal property rates have to be to balance out tax payments in 2016 to equal those paid by the average taxpayer in 2015?

Response

16

Please provide a current vacancy list.

Response

17

Please provide debt service amounts for the past 10 years excluding Utilities. How much of the 2014 bond referendum is included in the FY 2017 budget for each of the three referendum questions that passed?

Response

18

How much is not designated for incentives in the EDO Fund budget for FY 2017? How much is undesignated in the EDO Fund balance?

Response

19

Please provide a breakdown of the departments our taxes support.

Response

20

Where does our population growth rank in the State?

Response

21

How would the Recommended Budget change for each penny not added to the equalized tax rate?

Response

22

What is the entire dollar amount provided to the Schools?

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23

Please provide the Sheriff’s Office plan for the requirements of the Career Ladder Program.

Response

24

What is the potential for increasing the fees for outside waste/trash brought into the Livingston Landfill site?

Response

25

What is the potential for using two part-time employees instead of sworn/ranking staff for the Sheriff’s and FREMS logistics functions? Could the sworn/ranking staff then be used for other purposes and to reduce the number of positions/costs being added to the budget?

Response

26

What is the potential for combining the Sheriff’s Office and FREMS dive teams? Why do we need two?

Response

27

How does the 2% compensation adjustment tie in with the 1% adjustment for VRS?

Response

28

What is the “equalized” rate for the personal property tax?

Response

29

Regarding Utilities CIP projects paid with cash – is the cash from general taxation or from Utilities ratepayers?

Response

30

Why does the County pay dues on a per deputy basis to the Virginia Sheriff’s Association when deputies are paying their own dues to the Police Benevolence Association? How much would be saved if we no longer paid the Virginia Sheriff’s Association dues?

Response

31

How much would be saved if we were to transfer equipment from the fire trucks being decommissioned to the new trucks being purchased as opposed to purchasing all new equipment?

Response

32

What is the need to have call/training/station activity log books in all stations when we have the CAD system tracking calls and another system tracking training? How much would be saved in the budget if we were to not purchase any more of these log books?

Response

33

What is the status of the J-ramp given the recent FHWA opinion? Are we still in a position to spend $6 million on it in FY 2017? If not, the debt service on that project alone would be a half penny off the tax rate.

Response

34

How much of the schools’ increase is increased health care costs? Are we seeing a similar increase in the County’s health care costs? If so, by how much are premiums going up for employees and how much of increased costs fall on taxpayers?

Response

35

What is the equalized real estate tax rate carried out multiple decimals?

Response

36

What are the current amounts for athletic stipends and academic stipends?

Response

37

When was the last time the County transferred funding to Schools based on a certain percentage? What was the percentage? What would the transfer look like for FY 2017 if we went back to that? Provide comparisons of County population and Schools enrollment as part of this.

Response

38

Slide 54 – What are the mandatory costs that add to the $4.9M shown here?

Response

39

What projects are funded in FY 2017 resulting in the $2.7M in added debt service?

Response

40

Clarify the historical percentages of the General Fund used for schools. The numbers shown on slide 56 is the entire General Fund revenue – even those revenues designated by the State for things like the Sheriff’s Office and the Treasurer. What does the funding trend actually look like when those designated revenues are pulled out?

Response

41

Regarding slide #61, clarify restructuring/eliminate positions (gross) line. Identify how many positions were added and eliminated versus outsourced.

Response

42

Provide additional information regarding methodology to determine school enrollment projections. How does/has homeschooling and online education affected enrollment? What is driving the out-year enrollment increases? How are building permits and new development anticipated in the projections?

Response

43

If we were to receive what the State and Federal government said we’d receive for State and Federal mandates, how much additional in revenue would be expected for FY 2017?

Response

44

How does the Schools’ proposed salary adjustment with a 1% COLA and a step compare to the County’s 2% increase?Also, please explain, in detail, how the steps change since there are different percentage increases at different levels/steps.

Response

45

Why are healthcare costs expected to increase by 11.8%? How does this compare to the County’s healthcare increases at 0%?

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46

Please provide a comparison of historical enrollment projections with actual enrollment figures. What has been the degree of accuracy? (Go back to the 1990s, if possible.)

Response

47

Provide information on the tax relief for the elderly. What are the exemptions now? The qualifications for obtaining the exemption?

Response

48

What is driving the increases in SPED? Are there categories with more incidents, or new classifications? How does the fact that special education students are increasing as % of general student population play into long-term state/national trends? Is this the beginning, middle, or end of the trend increase?

Response

49

Slide 40 - Provide a comparison based on total compensation; not just salary.

Response

50

Slide 40 – Only BA degrees are shown here. How do we compare for advanced degrees?

Response

51

What one-time budget items can be deferred to the end of the year in the event funding is available at year’s end?

Response

52

What has been the change in health insurance costs for the Schools and County for the last few years? What has been the Anthem-proposed rate increase each year? What has been the actual rate increase implemented each year? What’s the number of employees for County and Schools? What’s the number of enrollees for County and Schools? What’s the plan design for County and Schools? What are the contribution rates for County and Schools? What are the health insurance reserve amounts for County and Schools?

Response

53

Statement that we rank in the lower third of the state for pupil funding. Does that include State and local funding, or is it looking just at one and not the other? What’s the basis of the data?

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54

To what is the increase in graduation rates attributable?

Response

55

What are the requirements of becoming a National Board Certified Teacher?

Response

56

What is the definition of a highly qualified teacher?

Response

57

How does the growth in the Hispanic population relate to the ESOL services that we provide?

Response

58

What has caused the increase in the number of schools meeting the accreditation standards?

Response

59

When property is re-zoned, do we start taxing at the re-zoned values immediately? Do we start taxing the property at commercial rates the day the rezoning is approved? If not, why? Does each type of zoning have a unique tax rate?

Response

60

What’s the average salary for a classroom teacher in Spotsylvania? Question is specific to classroom teachers. What’s the average salary for each of the following other Schools personnel: administration; custodians; maintenance; bus drivers; part-time personnel; IT? If there are other categories missed in the immediately prior question, please provide averages for those categories, as well. What is the overall school division average salary for FT employees, and then for PT employees?

Response

61

What’s the average salary for various types of employees in the County? What is the overall County average salary for FT employees, and then for PT employees?

Response

62

What is Spotsylvania’s mean income?

Response

63

What would the increase in the average real estate tax bill be at each penny between $0.83 and $0.86?

Response

64

Is there a way to show changes in reassessment values by location on a map? Are significant changes concentrated in certain areas?

Response

65

What has been the County’s total budget for each of the last 10 years? What has been the Schools’ budget for each of the last 10 years?

Response

66

What has been the result of County operations for each of the last 10 years? In other words, what balance has been left at the end of the year?

Response

67

How much would be saved if subscriptions to magazines and other resource materials were removed from the budget?

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68

How many teachers are being lost to attrition this year?

Response

69

For what purposes were the 60 positions added to the Schools’ budget in FY 2016? Were any for attrition?

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70

Do the County’s debt ratios include all debt – specifically transportation debt?

Response

71

What training is included in the Sheriff’s Office budget for FY 2017? What is the likelihood that the entire amount budgeted for training will be used?

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72

How many of the special education students actually physically attend Spotsylvania schools? How long are their days? How many are being transported to other special schools or facilities for their educational needs?

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73

What would going from a 50% to a 49% assessment ratio mean on personal property tax revenue?

Response

74

What is the maximum increase in tax bills resulting from the reassessment?

Response

75

What is the distribution by school/grade level for the reduction of 139 students in the current year?

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76

What is the history of the PPTRA percentage?

Response

77

Did VRE boost its capital reserves in the FY 2017 Budget?

Response

78

What has been the historical increase in the Schools’ budget?

Response

79

Is there a certain minimum amount at which tax bills are not sent out?

Response

80

Provide a chart showing County revenue and expenditures for the last six years. Compare the County growth rate to government growth.

Response

81

By how much would the Fiscal Stability Reserve contribution decrease for FY 2017 if we made our calculation based on budget year (FY 2017) revenues vs. the following year (FY 2018) revenues?

Response

82

Compare Spotsylvania’s average real estate and personal property tax bill to those of our neighboring localities.

Response

83

Provide the County’s FTE trend over the last 10 years. Identify those additional positions that have been added because of State requirements to add them (i.e. Comp Board or DSS).

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84

What was the reason for the removal of islands and repaving at Spotsylvania High School? How much did the project cost? How was this work paid for? What is the thought process behind completing projects like this when there are so many other instructional needs of the children and school system?

Response

85

Is it true that Spotsylvania High School and Livingston Elementary School are having water issues? If so, what is being done to remedy the situation? How are the remedies being paid for?

Response

86

Is artificial turf installation still planned at the high schools? If so, why? What’s the advantage to having the turf fields? When will those projects occur? What is the cost of the projects?

Response

87

What projects were included in the 2001 Fire/Rescue Bond referendum?

Response

88

What is the status of the animal shelter project? How has the scope of the work been revised? What are we getting at the $3.5M cost? What will we get with the new $400K cost? Is the $400K just a “band-aid”?

Response

89

Why are State and Federal SNAP assistance payments decreasing? Is it because State and Federal funding is being capped, because people are no longer qualifying for assistance, or a combination of each?

Response

90

What has been the overall revenue, debt and debt service for County and Schools for each of the last 5 – 8 years?

Response

91

How many of the positions added in the FY 2016 budget were mandated? Mandated by whom? How many of the budgeted new positions actually ended up being hired?

Response

 

 

92

How many of the positions included in the School Board’s FY 2017 Budget are mandated? By whom? How many are necessary to obtain state funding? If additional funding is not available to fund the School Board’s request, which of the positions will not be added?

Response

 

 

93

What is the difference between School mandatory costs and mandated costs?

Response

94

Health insurance is listed under mandatory costs. Is providing health insurance required by law?

Response

95

What opportunities exist for project money to be freed up from projects such as the Massaponax Church Road, J Ramp, and Super ramp project(s)? What funding was allocated to the Schools from the Massaponax Church Road project in FY 2016?

Response

 

 

96

If funds are taken out of reserves, what would the Schools use it for?

Response

97

How does the average teacher salary compare with our neighbors?

Response

98

In follow-up to Question 25, please provide the estimated budget impact of replacing one existing logistics staff person each from Fire/Rescue and the Sheriff’s Office with part-time personnel.

Response

 

 

99

Provide a comparison of our tax rate on boats and RV’s to that of Louisa, Stafford, and Orange. How much revenue do we bring in for these properties now?

Response

100

Please provide comparative information on the number of Finance staff employed by the County and the Schools. What is the need for the two added Accountant positions in FY 2017?

Response

 

 

101 Given the adjustments presented at the March 31 Board meeting, what is the estimated percentage change in revenue from FY 2015 to FY 2016? From FY 2016? To FY 2017? Response
102 What is the difference in interest rates at A, AA, AAA ratings? Compare the interest costs on a $1 million bond at each of these rating categories. Response
103 How many counties in Virginia have an AAA rating? How many have an AA rating? Response
104 Provide weighted criteria from rating agencies. Response
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105 When was the last Board of Supervisors pay raise? Response
106 Why was there $10 million available at the end of FY 2015 and has that already been factored into the FY 2016 and FY 2017 Budgets?  Response 
107
How much additional State revenue will the Schools receive as a result of the General Assembly’s changes to the budget?  Response 
108  How much annual revenue would be lost if the income threshold for tax relief were raised by $10,000; from $50,000 to $60,000? Response
109
What is the impact of raising the Business License (BPOL) threshold to $1M?  To 1.2M?  What if the rates are lowered? Response
110 What would it cost to increase the net worth criteria on tax relief? Response
111 What interest rate does the County earn on its money?  Response
112 Can we do quarterly tax billings?  If so, how would it work?  How would it impact the budget, if at all?  What localities do quarterly billings?  What would be the impact of delinquencies from the increased frequency of billing?  Response
113 When was the last time the County’s budget decreased?  Response
114 Provide the last four years of forecasts.  Response
115 Update the model presented on 3/31 to reflect 101% equalization instead of 100% equalization.  Response
 116 Provide a scenario showing the projected impact on reserve balances if the Budget Stabilization Reserve (BSR) were eliminated and the Fiscal Stability Reserve (FSR) were increased by 0.25% per year for each of the next 5 years.  What are the pros and cons?  How much in recurring funding would be available if we used the eliminated BSR balance to pay cash for a FY 2017 purchase?  Response

Responses to budget questions asked by the School Board