Management & Budget  |  FY 11-12 Budget FAQs
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Q: What is the County’s total recommended budget for FY 11/12 and how does it compare to the past several years?
The County’s Fiscal Year 11/12 recommended combined capital and operating budget totals $301,078,469  and represents an increase of $8.8 million, or 3%, (of which $7.6 million is from bond proceeds for capital projects) from the FY 10/11 adopted budget.  The total budget shown below includes the General Fund, Special Revenue Funds, School Fund, School Self-Sustaining Funds, Capital Funds and Debt Service Funds – additional details on these funds are provided in the budget document.

This recommended budget is balanced on a 74.2 cent tax rate following direction provided by the Board of Supervisors in January, which results in a real estate tax payment decrease for the average homeowner.


  Recommended Revenues             Recommended Expenditures

  • Represents an increase of $8.8 million, or 3%, (of which $7.6 million is from bond proceeds for capital projects) from the FY 10/11 adopted budget. 
  • City revenue sharing decreased for the first time since the agreement was established in 1982, a decline of $365,000 to a total of $18 million 
  • General government operations increased 1.1%, primarily to meet core public safety needs
  • School Division operations increased 0.7%
  • State revenues declined by 5%

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Q: How does the County’s General Fund budget respond to the evolving economic environment?
Last year our budget process focused on significant reductions and repositioning as we faced a second year of major revenue declines coupled with increases in mandates.  The FY 10/11 adopted budget was reduced by $40 million, or 12%, from the adopted FY 08/09 budget. This year many local revenue sources have stabilized and while we have not regained those lost revenues, we are not faced with the unprecedented imbalances of the past two budgets.  We are living within the constraints of those reductions and are focused on cost savings and resource reallocation not as a reaction to economic conditions but as a broader organizational transformation.  We recognize the long term nature of broader economic changes and the fundamental redefinition of the role of government and service delivery.

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The County is beginning to experience a stabilization of many of our major revenue sources resulting in an improved financial picture compared to the last two fiscal years.   That stabilization is reflected in the proposed FY11/12 general fund budget when compared to the adopted FY 10/11 budget in the following ways:

Q: How are the County’s major sources of revenue being impacted by the continued sluggish economy?
 

  • General property taxes increased by 0.3%
  • Other local taxes increased by 3.4%
  • Other local revenues decreased by 0.6%
  • State revenues increased by 1.2%
  • Federal revenues increased by 7.8%

Our economic outlook is still uncertain and the full impacts of state funding on local government and school division budgets are still unknown. This budget includes a revenue stabilization fund and contingency/revenue shortfall funds to protect the County’s interests in the face of unanticipated events.

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Q: Does this budget continue the significant reductions made prior to this year?
Yes.  The County carefully scrutinizes all of our spending, and the general fund budget continues the aggressive expenditure reductions realized since FY 08/09 including the following:

  • Continues eliminated and frozen positions, now at a total of 66, including a 31% reduction to Community Development staff since FY 09
  • Continues reduction in CIP - CIP has been reduced over the last several years and now only supports maintenance/replacement for County facilities and a minimal number of high priority emergency projects
  • Continues elimination of various programs – hunting control, community policing, housing down payment trust fund, funding for ACE, greenway program 
  • Continues reduced service levels – Finance drive-thru window, General Services roadway landscaping/maintenance, decreased staff support to master planning/citizen committees
  • Continues privatization of custodial services

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Q: How does the general fund budget reposition staff to support core services without increasing net personnel costs?
The great majority of service level reductions required by past budgets have not been restored.  However we have supplemented several core services that were clearly below an adequate level because of reductions experienced for the last several years, specifically in areas of public safety and financial administration.  This budget demonstrates thoughtful and deliberate shifting of staff and resources to meet budget goals within essentially flat revenues:

  • Eliminates three additional positions for a total of 66 positions eliminated or frozen
  • Unfreezes two police officer positions and Deputy Director of Social Services to support essential services
  • Provides additional support to Finance Department by unfreezing Finance Account Clerk position, reallocating position from County Executive’s Office to Finance Department, and expanding Director of Housing position responsibilities to include grants management

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Q: How will the average taxpayer’s real estate taxes change in this budget?
The average residential property owner will see a reduction in their tax bill in this recommended budget for the second year in a row.  The reduction will occur because the recommended budget is balanced on a tax rate of 74.2 cents, the same rate as last year, and the average reassessment for residential property declined 1.63% this year.  As an example of how this reduction plays out, the average single family residential home value as of January 2010 was $297,632 and at the 74.2 tax rate, the homeowner paid $2,208 in real estate taxes.  After the average decline in residential property value of 1.63% following the recent reassessment, that home is now valued at $292,772, resulting in an annual tax bill of $2,172 - equating to a reduction of $36, at the 74.2 tax rate in this proposed budget.

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Q: What does the general fund budget recommend regarding community agency funding?
Community agencies receive an average increase of 1% in this budget.  Some agencies, such as the Charlottesville Albemarle Visitors and Convention Bureau, the Jefferson Madison Regional Library and the SPCA, receive a different increase because their funding is based on an agreement or contract that mandates what level of funding they will receive.

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Q: How does the general fund budget use zero-based budgeting?
Our budget process incorporates principles of zero based budgeting by not automatically assuming that the current year’s expenditure levels are justified but rather systematically reviewing, reprioritizing and shifting funding support from activities that no longer align properly with our objective to support core governmental functions.  The significant expenditure reductions and staff reallocations since FY 08/09 demonstrate how services have been assessed, evaluated and reprioritized as is our customary practice as opposed to simply basing budgeting decisions on the previous year’s funding levels. 

Last fall the Board of Supervisors examined two department budgets, Parks and Recreation and Police, at a very intensive level to understand how the principles of zero-based budgeting guide our overall budget decision-making process.  Other departments will receive this type of review in the future.

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Q: How does the general fund budget support the Board’s new priority of economic vitality?
This budget supports the Board’s priority of economic vitality

  • Continues funding for Economic Opportunity Fund and adds funding for a Target Industry Study
  • Funds program support materials to implement the Economic Vitality Action plan 
  • Continues to fund Chamber of Commerce, Convention and Visitors Bureau, Thomas Jefferson Partnership for Economic Development and Piedmont Workforce Network
  • Reallocates staff to provide greater focus on economic vitality priorities

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Q: What are “core” services?
Everything we do as a local government supports individuals, families and our community, and all services have a constituency that has good reason to believe that service is essential. But this sobering budget situation demands that we make a deliberate and thorough examination of where we invest available resources and prioritize those services that are truly core to protecting health, welfare and personal safety and that should appropriately be provided by local government. None of the reductions proposed by this budget are easy or desirable, and we recognize that they all come at some level of cost to the community. It is important to realize that even core services may need to be reduced in this challenging time – for example, we have had to freeze some positions and reduce other expenditures in our police department not to mention the significant reductions that our School Division is making.

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Q: How does the general fund budget support core services? 
An additional $1.3 million is provided to meeting the following core public safety needs:

  • Police staffing, training, vehicle maintenance and repair
  • Fire Rescue overtime
  • Fire Rescue Volunteers
  • City Fire Contract
  • Line of Duty costs shifted from the state
  • Regional Jail increase 
  • SPCA increase 
  • Emergency Communications Center increase

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Q: What are the major impacts of this budget on the County’s Capital program?
The past several years of declining revenues have created a dramatic impact on the amount of money available for capital improvements, even with this year’s stabilizing of many of our local revenue sources.  The only projects that are proposed to remain funded in the CIP are contractually obligated projects and maintenance and repair projects that are considered necessary to protect existing facilities and equipment. 
Funding for all new capital projects, including all fire stations except Ivy, parks, libraries, schools, sidewalks, greenways, recycling, etc. has been proposed for elimination or delayed beyond at least the next five years of the CIP in order to balance the plan. 

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Q: How is the School Division affected by this budget?
The County provides funds to the School Division based on a long standing practice of allocating 60% of new local revenues to the School Division and 40% of new local revenues to local government.  Because of the stabilizing of local revenues, this budget reflects an increase of $1,188,078 or 1.2% in the local support transfer to school operations. The School Division faces additional fiscal pressure due to significant reductions in state funding.

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Q: What are individual major areas of expenditure for the County’s budget?
The largest areas of expenditure for the County are School Division operations and General Government operations. Taken together, School Division operations, School self-sustaining and School capital and debt expenditures account for almost 59% of the County’s expenditures in FY 10/11. Other major areas of expenditure include general government,   capital debt service and revenue sharing with the City of Charlottesville.

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Q: What are the major categories of general government expenditures?
General Government is broken down into eight major functional areas: Administration, Judicial, Public Safety, Public Works, Human Development, Parks, Recreation and Culture, and Community Development.

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Q: What is the Revenue Sharing Agreement?
In 1982, Albemarle County and the City of Charlottesville entered into a revenue sharing agreement in which both jurisdictions agreed to share tax revenues in return for total immunity from any annexation attempts by the City. The City was proposing a significant annexation of County territory at that time to increase the City tax base. The proposed agreement was approved by County voters in a referendum.

For as long as the agreement remains in effect, both the County and the City are required to contribute annually to a Revenue and Economic Growth Sharing Fund which is then divided between them on the basis of a formula related to population changes and “true real property tax rates” as determined by the Virginia Department of Taxation. Due to the nature of the formula and the conditions in the City and the County since 1982, the effect of the agreement is that the County has paid the City a revenue sharing amount every year equivalent to the ten cent tax rate cap., the revenue sharing payment totaled $18.4 million, this year we anticipate that the revenue sharing payment will decrease by $365,000 to a total of $18 million.  This is the first decrease in revenue sharing since the agreement was established in 1982.

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Q: Can the County discontinue the Revenue Sharing Agreement?
The Revenue Sharing Agreement is legally binding and must remain in effect until one of the following occurs:

  • The City and County are consolidated or otherwise combined into a single political subdivision, or
  • The concept of independent cities is altered by state law in such manner that real property in the City becomes part of the County tax base, or
  • The City and County agree to cancel or change the agreement

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Q: What role do the county’s vision, mission and strategic goals play in the budget development process?
Albemarle County’s strategic planning process assists the County in focusing our service and operations delivery. We believe that before we can allocate our available resources, we must first understand the needs and desires of County residents and the factors that will affect us in the future. Working in partnership with citizens and the Board of Supervisors, we develop goals and measureable objectives to respond to community priorities. While the revenue downturns of the last several years have caused us to delay some of our strategic objectives, we are still focused on community priorities.  The Board of Supervisors will be meeting this summer to further discuss its strategic vision for the County in this new economic reality.

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Q: What is the Five-Year Financial Plan?
The local government Five-Year Financial Plan is an important long term planning tool that provides the Board of Supervisors with reasonable projections for the next five years so they can provide staff with direction regarding their long range goals and priorities. The Plan is based on a set of assumptions regarding how the County’s revenues and expenditures are likely to change over time, based on the best information available at the time the Plan is reviewed. While the plan is not a budget document, it sets directions that will influence budget decisions in the years to come. The plan is reviewed and updated on an annual basis.

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Q: What are the County’s unfunded mandates?
Unfunded mandates are instances where the state or federal government establishes laws and/or regulations that require the County to incur costs that are not reimbursed by the state or federal government. A general example would be if Congress required new voting machines and provided no funding to assist local governments with the purchase of these machines. These mandates require the County to divert local tax dollars to support federal and state programs. A significant example of an unfunded mandate in Albemarle County is the Comprehensive Services Act (CSA) which was created by the state in 1993 to provide services for at-risk youth.

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Q: How are property taxes set by the County?
General property taxes are based on the assessed value of real and personal property owned by businesses, individuals, and public service corporations. Real estate reassessments in Albemarle County are done on an annual basis and, as required by Virginia law, property is assessed at 100% of fair market value. The assessed value is used to calculate property taxes, which are the product of the assessed value and the tax rate, with tax rates being established annually by the Board of Supervisors. Both real and personal property are assessed at 100% valuation with tax rates applied per $100 of assessed value. Real estate and personal property taxes are paid in 2 installments due June 5 and December 5. General property taxes consist of real estate, personal property, mobile home, and machinery and tools taxes.

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Q: How does the County’s tax compare to similar jurisdictions in Virginia?
Albemarle County’s tax rate historically has been in the lower half of the Top 20 most populated counties in Virginia. Albemarle’s real estate tax rate is consistently among the lowest third of those counties.  When the current tax rate of 74.2 cents is adjusted to reflect the impact of revenue sharing, the County actually operates on a twelve cent lower rate, or 62.2 cents because of the amount allocated to the City of Charlottesville.

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Q: What are Albemarle County’s Real Estate and Personal Property Tax Rates?
The real estate tax rate is $0.742 per $100 assessed value.  The personal property tax rate is $4.28 per $100 assessed value. Personal property tax is levied on vehicles and other tangible non-real estate property owned by individuals, businesses, trusts, and taxable non-profit organizations. Qualifying vehicles assessed at $1,000 or less are eliminated.

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Q: Is there a calendar of the County’s Budget Process, and how can I participate in this process?
The County’s budget document contains a budget calendar. This document can be accessed from the County’s website www.albemarle.org/budget. This calendar includes information and dates of public hearings. Hearings on recommended budgets and proposed tax rates are held in March.

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Q: How can I review the County’s Budget?
The County’s Recommended and Approved Budgets, both current and for past years, are available for review on the County’s website, www.albemarle.org/budget. The budgets are divided into sections in PDF format for easier viewing and downloading. In addition to the online budget, a copy of the FY 11/12 budget document is available at local libraries and in the County Executive's Office for public viewing. Bound print and/or CD-ROM copies of the budget are available for purchase in the County Executive's Office.

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Q: What if I have questions or comments regarding the Budget?
For more information about the County’s budget or budget process, click the link at the bottom of the Budget webpage on the County’s website. Feel free to email your comments and questions regarding the budget to budget@albemarle.org. Questions and comments can also be directed to the County Board of Supervisors via e-mail at bos@albemarle.org

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