Roanoke County proposed budget includes pay raises, increased spending

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ROANOKE COUNTY (WSLS) - On Tuesday, the Roanoke County Board of Supervisors went over the county's proposed fiscal year 2016-2017 operating budget. Local leaders said the plan includes increases in spending and pay raises.

County administrator Tom Gates presented the proposed plan.

"This budget recommendation is best characterized as a status quo budget" said Gates. "It maintains existing levels, it meets our obligations, it meets our targeted fund balance for a fiscal policy and it requires no change on the tax rate."

Gates proposed a $183,442,915 budget which is approximately $4.6 million more than 2016. He said about $800,000 of that increase is from state funding for Department of Social Services programs. The proposed plan also includes a 2% raise for all county employees.

"I have included a pay raise for all employees to hold them harmless against the affects of inflation" he said. "Although, admittedly in most instances those pay raises will be at least partially offset by increases in employee contributions to healthcare cost."

While Gates calls the plan a fair and balanced budget, some supervisors expressed concerns about increased spending.

"It seems like the way we do budgets here is that we look at all the money coming in and we spend it" said Al Bedrosian Hollins Magisterial District.

The proposal includes roughly $1.2 million more for public safety compared to last year. Local leaders suggested cost saving changes like leasing emergency vehicles instead of buying new ones.

"These vehicles are huge ticket items" said Jason Peters, Chairman Roanoke County Board of Supervisors. "Ambulances, fire trucks, ladder trucks, garbage trucks have we looked at a process of leasing those vehicles?"

Moving forward, county leaders hope to save money without putting the quality of services at risk. A public hearing on the proposed budget is expected to take place May 10th.