County budget meets hard times
"What a difference a year makes," Albemarle County Exec Bob Tucker observed to local media before presenting his fiscal 2008/2009 budget today. A year ago, as Albemarle was giddy over annual property reassessments that were up 15 percent, Tucker presented an operating budget that increased 6.7 percent. This year, with the housing market tanking nationally and county residential assessments up a more modest 0.14 percent, Tucker's $268.7 million budget represents a 2.1 percent increase.
"It's really unprecedented," says Tucker. "I've been here 35 years, and I've never seen a reassessment that low."
The total $331.4 million budget focuses on maintaining essential services, Tucker says, and the $26 million increase over last year is mainly in capital expeditures, not operations, he emphasizes. The $20.1 million, 69.5 percent increase will pay for projects at Albemarle High School and Brownsville and Greer elementaries.
It's up to the Board of Supervisors to determine whether to cut, hike, or maintain the current
68 cent/$100 value tax rate, and the county school board has presented a budget that's short $1.3 million in revenue.
Tucker notes that 13 county positions have been frozen and four eliminated, but county employees are looking at a 3.35 percent raise.