Botetourt Supervisors hear final budget funding requests

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BOTETOURT COUNTY (WSLS 10) - Botetourt County Supervisors heard a final appeal Monday night from the two agencies asking for the most funding for fiscal year 2017: schools and fire and emergency services.

Supervisor Chair Jack Leffel says talks on the school budget fell short of his hopes.

"I wanted to raise it up, certainly more, where we could have a discussion point, but it's just so much to consider, and one of the main things, we've got to get the General Fund up," said Leffel.

A general fund that he says has had a more than $900 thousand hole for the past three years, but he says a two percent raise for teachers is still a top priority, because the state will be doing the same for its employees.

"We have to take care of that. Well, if you and I are teaching the same thing, I get a raise, don't you want one?" said Leffel.

Schools Superintendent John Busher says there are many employees in the system who have seen their pay stagnate for years.

"Our attempt is to make sure that if you've been in Botetourt County for years, depending on the step, that we look at where you are and where you should be and we make a correction to get you where you should be at this point in your career," said Busher.

The other big ticket item came from fire and emergency services, asking for a new 8-man crew.

"As growth occurs in the economic development side of the house, that's going to bring more traffic and more people into the county, so Botetourt's growing, and it's all a very positive thing, but we've just got to make sure that the services are in place to provide the base services to the citizens when they call," said Deputy Chief Jason Ferguson.

Leffel says he agrees, and hopes the final budget is forward looking in preparing for the influx from new jobs over the next three years.

"Trying to get ahead of the curve, stop kicking the can, so that's our drive," said Leffel.

To help cover that general fund gap, Supervisors talked about a six to seven cent property tax increase on every $100 of assessed value, bringing it up from 72 cents to 78 or 79.

One important thing to note, is when supervisors release the advertised budget, they can't raise it any higher, but they can lower it, so Leffel says the board gives it padding in case it needs to come down.