Albemarle adopts austerity budget

Albemarle County tightened its budget belt today when the Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a $292.2 million fiscal 2010/11 budget that's $11.9 million lighter than the previous year.

The supes were divided on maintaining the current 74.2 cents per $100 assessed value real estate rate, which amounts to a tax decrease for homeowners because of falling assessments. Ann Mallek and Dennis Rooker were outnumbered in a 4-2 vote to keep the same rate, and they joined in with the majority to approve a budget that's almost 4 percent less than 2009/10 and 12.4 percent lower than two years ago.

24 comments

Voted wrong: "having African-American children in our public school system already puts our kids at a disadvantage"

Uhhh, I'm with Cville Eye. Want to explain what you meant by this?

@Voted wrong in 2008 ,"But it comes from involved parents who know that having African-American children in our public school system already puts our kids at a disadvantage, so WE need to work harder." Are you saying what you really mean to say?
It's my understanding that ACPS didn't receive $700,000 it asked the BoS for. So what? It received an additional $3.4M from the state tat it can choose to use to cover it. What's the problem? The board has a choice and the voters have a choice.
It also seems to me that people believe that the ACPS, and indeed the BoS has a right to whatever money they want. Why not take everyone's paycheck and give them back what you want them to have. Don't look for anything because the school system and the local government can always think of things it wants to have that supposedly makes everything better.

Voted wrong,
The conditions you describe at Yancey sound awful.What position did you take about consolidating the small southern Albemarle elementary schools? Those awful trailers have been all over the county- my children all spent lots of time in them and AHS just got rid of them this year. As I said above it is hard to see how less money will improve school conditions.
My children attended a good urban ring elementary school with a high percentage of minority children. Agnor Hurt, Woodbrook, and Greer are all good physical facilities with very diverse student populations. Perhaps we all need to visit all the schools in Albemarle to have a true picture of the school system.

Because the coarses are designed for white people.

Albeboy,

The County is full of the classic 'tax break' crowd, who never think they contribute to the bloated budget or the costs of running an area. These same people tend to scream for tax breaks on a national level as well.

My daughter is single and has no children, but always paid taxes in the low income area, as well as much more now she makes more. Voted wrong in 2008 is classic. She gets tax breaks my daughter doesn't get, while my daughter pays for her children's education and eh services they use, and has a lower standard of living as a result. Yet 2008 is still unhappy because she might not get her beer and pizza, two fattening unhealthy foods. I bet we would find all sorts of prepackaged foods in her cupboards too.

Those were luxuries for my family when I was a little boy, and my mother cooked for us so we could afford to eat. If she has money for beer and pizza, she isn't hard up enough yet.

Dear Gail and guess what,

I run three different after-school programs in ACPS at three different schools. I also work as a teacher's aide and sometimes as a substitute in one of Albemarle's Schools.

My kids get a fine education thank you. But it comes from involved parents who know that having African-American children in our public school system already puts our kids at a disadvantage, so WE need to work harder. It is because of OUR commitment and not DEPENDING on someone else to educate our children that we can be assured that our children will be your children's bosses.

Voted Wrong,
I have had children in the ACPS for twenty years. Two of them are well employed college graduates and the third is about to finish high school. Parental involvement will get kids through elementary and middle school if the parents have a good basic education, enough time and/or money to supervise their children, and if the children have no special needs. I think all my "ifs" in the previous sentence reflect reality. However, very few parents are able to make sure their children have a superb high school education- at that point most of us must depend upon dedicated teachers because our Spanish is rusty or we never took advanced Physics. The real question is whether our society owes all children a good education or whether only the children of "involved" parents will be able to obtain a good education. I can't see how our schools can do more with less. Your children may thrive in larger classes with fewer extras but many children will not if the lower property tax trend continues.

Have you considered appealing your tax assessment if your property is overvalued? Property in my neighborhood, at it's highest tax assessment, was never triple the 2000 value. No wonder you are stressed. I wonder if other folks have experienced a tripling of their assessed property values in the past ten years?? Did you improve your home significantly?

CvilleEye and Albeboy-
This is a blog!I think what Voted wrong meant to say is clear from the context of her other statements.
CvilleEye- You are completely correct that the voters have a say. In fact, it is pretty clear that the BOS responds ONLY to voters, not to citizen input during the Budget Cycle. Perhaps all these hearings are really a waste of emotion and effort.
What we really need is to remember how each supervisor voted when the next election rolls around. Perhaps a young parent group(parents with a long term stake in the ACPS) could take on the roll of keeping track of the BOS over time.

I'm also interested in an explanation of why having African American children in Albemarle County schools puts anyone at a disadvantage.

To confused and Albeboy:

Please take the time to visit two elementary schools in Albemarle County. Yancey Elementary where my kids go and Brownsville Elementary where I often work. Then let me know what you think.

Yancey is predominately minority, dingy, leaky, the ONLY school without an air conditioned gym in the county, there is little or no money for field trips, little or no money for assemblies, lack of money for textbooks and workbooks, very little technology, run down classrooms, run down library, even run down hallways and bathrooms that don't work, a lack of basic school supplies and a wonderful staff that tries their darnedest to educate my kids in sub-standard surroundings.

Brownsville is predominately non-minority, looks like a modern college campus, has a cafeteria with skylights, new gardens everywhere, state of the art technology, state of the art playground equipment, itouches and macs everywhere, beautiful classrooms with smart boards, beautiful hallways, bathrooms and school supplies galore.

When I was a child my parents and grandparents fought against the 'separate but equal' doctrine. Now I long for separate but equal. I dare any of you to spend a day at Yancey and a day at any other public elementary school in the county and then come back and say that we treat all Albemarle County Public School children the same.

I have to work twice as hard as a Yancey parent because the county treats our school like cr ap while the placate the rich parents at my kids expense. If you haven't been to Yancey don't even respond because you don't know what you are talking about until you see kids in leaky trailers trying to learn.

Voted wrong,

My daughter still pays more taxes than you do based on what you say. 700 in taxes? For all the services you receive? Services my daughter doesn't use? That's my point. She pays more than 2500 now, covers your children, and doesn't whine over needing beer and pizza.

I'm not saying that Yancy is acceptable, and seeing as some of my family members many years ago went there and went on to fine colleges for the time, it saddens me. My children had a much better experience in the ACPS. I think you have a right to demand for a better school situation, and I will fight with you, but the demand to cut taxes, while others carry you, is, if I may say, the sort of nonsense that sounds childish. You couldn't put your children into any school for 700 a year, not even one run by nuns, in 2000, and not for 2500 today here. I am not sure exactly how much you expect the county to provide you for, for those 2500 a year.

Do I think you like many Americans are being squeezed while others just get wealthier? Darn tootin' I do. Most Americans have been treading water while a few get the great tax breaks, but you let them do it to you, with this attitude you have about wanting something but not realizing others in your boat are paying for you as well.

Albemarle could do a lot to get those who have been 15% on their income to give more back to the county they live in, if it wants to. But you will cry over a few more dollars, so they won't be able to get thousands more out of those riding on your foolishness.

Hey Old Timer, again good points but....

I have 4 children and that means the County is spending $60,000 per year to educate my children, and poorly at that. I could educate my children for less than the $5000 per year I pay in taxes.

Average class size (based on my kids) about 24 or about $360,000 per class per year. I could educate 24 kids, including renting a building, textbooks, everything, including paying myself $100,000 per year and still give back $100,000 to the taxpayers.

The bottom line is too much money is wasted. No one, Voted Wrong, your sister, you or me, should be paying so much for mediocre schools. Taxes should be a whole lot less and people with no kids in the schools should be getting some kind of a break while those with kids should be paying more.

At least Voted Wrong seems to have her heart in the right place volunteering to do so much in our schools with and without pay.

Life Long - I have no children but pay lots of property taxes and I am with you on the ridiculous amount of money the county and the city appear to spend on educating our children. I see many ways they could cut back, but I suspect parents would then raise a fuss For example school busses stop in front of pretty much every house to drop kids off. They didn't do that 25 years ago and we look at all the health problems kids are having.

I believe Old Timer's point is that Voted Wrong is a classic on not realizing what they get for what they are actually paying. If she pays 2500 a year, and she not only gets an education for her kids but now appears to be employed by them as well, on some level or another. Her remark about a 22% raise in 10 years is very enlightening, because many Americans got even less than that, yet they do not get land use property tax deductions and cannot feed their children off the produce of the land because they don't have any.

Her story is the story of the American Middle Class on many levels, and it is very disheartening, but it is also refelctive of a very narrow vision. I don't really read her complaining about poor school management, rather she is complaining about paying taxes.

I too am very disappointed with much of what has happened, because it really still all sounds the same as before. All problems can be solved with a few tax cuts, and forcing people to purchase products from private industry when they can't offer a competitive product. God forbid you do soemthing that is done 'socially' and in a way that rewards the actual providers, and consumers.

Caesonia - great post.

I wish that the supervisors over the last 10 years had saved a little money for a rainy day rather than spend it all like a drunken sailor.

As far as Voted Wrong, I understand your point that not everyone got 22% in raises over the last 10 years but I still understand her plight. The Albemarle County Budget has gone up 150% in those same years, her property taxes have gone up 300%, and inflation was 29% over that same period. She is frustrated because in real dollars her life is moving backwards.

I don't mean to insinuate anything about her or her situation but I agree with you, hers is the story of the middle class. She may not fully understand everything but she is trying to raise a family, make ends meet, get homework done. So I completely empathize with her situation and I think she has very good points about spending on minority kids versus the affluent kids. ACPS treats the minority kids as second class citizens, I have seen it with my own eyes when my son played little league ball at the park across from Yancey. If my kids went there instead of Cale I would be on fire.

Dear Old Timer,

In 2000 my AC taxes were $728 a year, in 2010 they will be just over $2500, that's over 300% of an increase in ten years. Working for ACPS my salary has gone up 22% over those same 10 years. Did our Board of Supervisors put away one penny of all that money for a rainy day? Where did it go, not into my paycheck and not into a better education for my kids.

I have never taken a dime from the government and even donated ALL of my stimulus check to the Jefferson Area Food Bank. My husband runs a CSA farm in southern Albemarle. I believe it is the only minority owned working farm in the county. And I would bet that my family eats healthier than 90% of people in this area. We grow most of what we eat, give a quarter of our eggs and produce to food banks and quite frankly your snotty beer and pizza remarks are unnecessary.

Failure to raise the property tax rate is going to foster further decline in County schools, which aren't that good to start with.

So "Voted Wrong"'s kids won't know how to pick a candidate, either.

The problem is that Voted Wrong's children will have less chance to achieve upward mobility without a good education. That won't happen with one year of cutbacks but it is a real risk if tax reductions become a long term pattern.

Like all strapped moms in this area I have to be tightening my belt, cutting back on things for the kids and even denying my kids some basics, like putting off getting new clothes and shoes, due to the economy.

Thank goodness we finally have a local government that understands that "a pizza and a beer" each month means a lot to my family!

" I looked up and didn't see asteroids, I looked outside and the flowers were still blooming, the birds were still singing, nobody had to unplug grandma to pay their tax bill.....

now if we can only get Obama to stop wasting money too.

good point old timer. Obama's left holding the bag but that doesn't mean he made the bag.

Well, maybe all you folks screaming of taxes should have thought about paying down debt when the times were good. I hate paying taxes too but I find those whoa re the loudest don't mind using tax money for their agenda.

Obama? I thought we were talking about Albemarle County.

That's a pretty assinine thing to say, Old Timer! Children love pizza and beer. Especially the beer part.

And yes, I have given my juvenile daughter beer before. So she can see how quickly it can affect her motor skills. It's called teaching a child responsible drinking habits.

I have a craving for pizza and beer tonight now. Dangit! :)