School and county boards find common ground in Montgomery County's budget

MONTGOMERY CO., Va. (WDBJ7) -- Montgomery County administrator Craig Meadows has had a busy time getting next fiscal year's budget approved.

"I'm very pleased with the budget the board adopted," Meadows said.

The Montgomery County Board of Supervisors approved the county's $201.5-million budget Monday night by a 7-0 vote.

"I thought the meeting went really well," Meadows said. "There was a lot of discussion related to some of the particulars of budget."

There's no tax hike in this year's budget, but that doesn't mean some people won't be paying a bit more on their property taxes.

"If their property value increased, even though the tax rate stays the same, they'll probably pay additional dollars in real estate taxes."

That increase from real estate tax revenue adds 1.5 cents to the county budget. The school board wanted the money to go to the school's operating budget to fund staff raises and new teachers, but board of supervisors argued the money should go into a capital fund for school building renovations and emergency maintenance.

By Monday night's meeting, a compromised had been reached.

"By a 7-0 vote, they agreed that of that penny and a half, about $422,000, only a half cent would go to school capital," he said.

The remaining penny, about $844,000, would be moved to school operations. That gives the schools a total budget of $140,951,880. The larger school operation budget allows for teacher and staff raises.

"There's a lot of very positive things going on with the county," Meadows said. "I know that with maintaining the tax rate at 89 cents some people will be paying more in taxes, but we are so blessed in this community to have quality school facilities."

While 70 percent of the budget does go to the schools, there's money leftover to be considered for other county needs. Right now the board is looking to fund an additional school resource officer, renovate the Christiansburg Institute roof, and increase the New River Valley Emergency Communications Authority's budget.

"A lot of very positive things going on within this budget, in terms of taking care of employees (and) in terms of making sure we're taking care of providing good citizen service, both on the county side and providing funds to the schools so teachers and their employees can do excellent work," Meadows said. "We want to ensure the public knows that every dollar we spend in that budget is accounted for and identified."

Along with the Christiansburg school projects and the additional county resources, Meadows said the county is also looking at ways to fund more parks, improve broadband accessibility to outskirt communities of the county, and renovate the existing Riner Fire Station once construction of the new station is complete to make it the new home of the Riner Rescue Squad.

Meadows also said both boards hope to come up with a plan for renovations for the Christiansburg schools by the end of summer or early fall.