Fiscal Responsibility is Key!
Fiscal responsibility is key to the success of our town and a priority for me as a leader in this community. The entire budgeting process has been revamped in the last few years and we are finally on track to running a net positive instead of ignoring this vital obligation. It is also just as important that our citizens understand where their tax dollars go and what this means for their needs.
Some facts to know:
1. The 2018-2019 Fiscal Year resulted in a $467,806 surplus
2. Water & Sewer Budgets for 2019-2020 finally accommodate a 30% Reserve Fund to fix infrastructure (1.2 M started in 2020)
3. The 2019-2020 Budget is balanced within 1% despite the entirely unforeseen effects of COVID
resulting in an entire loss in business licenses, special events, payment extensions given to residents, and delayed grant reimbursements that won’t show until FY-2021
4. A $915,000 reduced budget for 2020-2021 was passed to be conservative amid the serious COVID-19 concerns that affect an operating budget
5. School Capital Improvement Fund was formalized in 2019 that incentives their fund balance to go back into school infrastructure needs
6. The budget is presented publicly with graph charts, fund break downs, annual trends, and details in March of each year, prior to the final approval in June, and is available on the town website https://colonialbeachva.net/town-budget/
7. All entities and agencies that receive local funding are required to have an independent audit
8. New financial software was implemented in 2019, called Edmonds, which set up additional checks and balances within the finance department, tracks department spending to budget more clearly, and cleaned up outdated line items from old software issues
We must live within our means:
Over 50% of our Revenue comes from Real Estate Taxes, keeping some stability to our revenue even amid crisis situations
$7.8 Million is the General Fund (which includes the school), $1.4 Million is the Water Fund, and $2.3 Million is the Sewer Fund, totaling an $11.5 Million budget annually. These funds are each separate by law and money cannot go from water or sewer into the general fund.
The Debt service we do have is only 10% of our General Fund, 27% of our Water Fund (the meter project), and 15% of our Sewer Fund.
Of the General Fund annual debt payments,
60% ($485,516) of it is the School VPSA Bond, the School cannot carry debt and thus the town holds the mortgage for new school,
20% ($150,012) of it is for equipment in GO BONDs, we are using the remainder of the 2014/2015 GO BOND to repair and paint the water tower this coming year,
15% ($117,150) of the debt is for the 911 Radio Tower Dispatch agreement with the county the prior town council signed, and
the remainder $35,094 is for VML fees, leases, and the boardwalk improvements that were made during the block grant.
Practically all beautification and tourism efforts are grant funded with very little match, there has been a 35% increase in grants from 2018.
Grants build on each other, many of the grants we are receiving today are precedents to doing the planning and management needed to receive the actual implementation grant that follows.
Grounds keeping staffing and expenses make up only 2.5% of the total $11.5 Million managed
Water, sewer, and infrastructure under Public Works makes up $5.2 Million or 45% of the total and is the #1 priority in the budget, with water and sewer rates finally at realistic costs to cover infrastructure needs. We must invest in the technology, repair assessments, and engineering necessary to fix the infrastructure with a responsible allocation that is necessary for the on-going issues that need comprehensive solutions and not just a one-time patch.
Boardwalk development is ahead. The sale of all town owned property is dedicated entirely to capital funds, 10% to the school, 5% to the fire dept, 5% to the rescue squad, and the remainder to the Capital Improvement fund that requires Town Council vote to spend on needs identified in the Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) and based from the Town’s Comprehensive Plan.
I share with you these points because knowing the budget, being able to analyze spending and revenue trends is something I personally take interest in.I work hard with the school and town staff each year to have thoughtful input to this process.I continue to push for funding our emergency services, further education for our staff, and moving forward on the big steps necessary to fix storm water, like hiring a GIS technician and the LIDAR topography mapping.I support the grant initiatives that are going to bring beautification to our community, activate our public spaces, and commerce to our downtown.I know how stretched our budget can be on providing basic necessary services first, and what is required to build on the steps to get us where we want to be.