As Albemarle prepares a budget for fiscal year 2023, County Executive Jeffrey Richardson briefed Supervisors on the closing of Fiscal Year 21 at a meeting on November 3, 2021
Like all localities, Albemarle was affected by the pandemic.
“The last 20 months have been unlike any in my professional working career and I probably speak for staff when I say our challenges and the kinds of issues and problems we face are unlike any that we have faced in our career,” Richardson said.
The pandemic began officially in Virginia on March 12, 2020 with the declaration of a state of emergency. That happened just as Albemarle was finalizing the budget for fiscal year 2021. A decision was made to rewrite the budget to pause some spending while more was known about underlying economic conditions. Richardson said staff initially assumed the worst case scenario.
“We artificially lowered our budget base so we had to go in and we had to make drastic cuts for fiscal year 21,” Richardson said.
Richardson said the economic outlook did not turn out to be as severe and he detailed the reasons why in his presentation. There has also been federal funding in the form of the CARES Act of 2020 and the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. Here’s one example from Albemarle budget chief Andy Bowman.
“The county was able to reimburse a significant portion of its public safety expenditures which created a one-time savings in the middle of fiscal year 2021 which the Board of Supervisors used to establish a local pandemic reserve,” Bowman said.
Now the time has come to begin preparing for the budget for FY23, which will be adopted by the Board next May. That comes as the fiscal year 2021 budget is audited which will reveal whether there are additional funds leftover that be reprogrammed to achieve the county’s strategic goals.
This is known as “one-time” funds. In FY21, revenues were up 5.3 percent over budget and county spending was down 4.9 percent.
“Unaudited, we expect there to be $13.2 million in one-time funding that can be available to be reprogrammed as the county is heading into the season again of financial planning,” Bowman said.
Richardson told the Board that the local economy is strong, and there are many ways this funding could be used to make further investments in economic development.
“You met recently with your [Economic Development Authority] and I think that we need to consider more and I think now is the time to do more to set ourselves up for the future to help business expansion and to be a catalyst in this community to continue to strengthen our economic foundation,” Richardson said.
Richardson also suggested the Board consider a mid-year salary increase for county personnel could also be an option. The Board will have a work session on “workforce stabilization” on December 1. Other suggestions from staff will continue to come to the Board in weeks to come.
The next immediate step is a meeting of the Audit Committee on November 19. (meeting info)
A major change this upcoming year is that real estate reassessments for calendar year 2022 will be sent out a month earlier than usual due to issues with the post office and potential for delays caused by mail.
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