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County adopts $122 million budget

County adopts $122 million budget

For the seventh straight year, Orange County will not raise real estate or personal property taxes.

At its April 27 meeting, the Orange County Board of Supervisors unanimously adopted its 2021-22 budget and tax rate. The 5-0 vote followed public hearings on both that garnered no citizen comments.

The fiscal year 2022 budget totals $122,025,524, which is more than $2.2 million less than the previous year’s consolidated budget, according to Orange County Assistant County Administrator for Management Services, Glenda Bradley. Last year’s budget included nearly $15 million in financing for one-time, major, capital projects, she noted. Those include broadband and landfill expansion, renovations and an addition at Gordon-Barbour Elementary School and refurbishing part of the Blue Bell building as a vocational educational center for Orange County High School.

Meanwhile, the recently approved budget includes $7.18 million in one-time federal aid for the county’s COVID-19 response fund, Bradley said.

Orange County Administrator, Ted Voorhees, told the board that the county would still need to determine a spending plan for the recently approved American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.

“We’ll work on a draft of a spending plan with the budget guidance committee,” he said. “The funds are appropriated now, but we don’t have a spending plan. The legal construct in place to receive the money but we don’t have a spending plan yet.”

Last year, the county amended its budget twice to accept more than $5.2 million in federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act funds.

Meanwhile, except for correcting a minor administrative error, taxes for the coming fiscal year will remain the same.

In the last fiscal year, the board of supervisors created a countywide new fire and emergency services district levy that would allocate $0.11 of the $0.72 real estate tax rate to offset rising public safety costs. The balance of the real estate tax rate ($0.61) would be applied to fund other county services. In an administrative oversight, the fire and EMS district levy was not applied to mobile homes, which are taxed at the same rate as other real estate. The 2021-22 budget corrects that oversight and will tax mobile homes at the same $0.72 rate, rather than the $0.61 rate from a year ago. Voorhees said the change amounts to approximately $4,030.

Tangible personal property (including motor vehicles motorcycles) will be taxed at $3.75 per $100 assessed valuation.

In an earlier presentation to the board, Voorhees said county tax revenue had increased across the board, with an additional $700,000 for the general fund and more than $180,000 in the fire and EMS fund.

In a breakdown of revenue sources, Voorhees said 39% comes from property taxes and 36% from the state. Other local revenue accounts for 13% of budget funding. Federal funds represent 7%.

In the 2021-22 budget, the general fund increases from $23.8 million to $25.3 million, with school operating funds increasing by nearly $2.4 million to $55 million.

School spending accounts for 54% of the budget, with the general fund comprising 22%.

Within the general fund, $8.2 million is budgeted for public safety, $4.7 million for health and welfare, $4.3 for general government administration, $2.3 million for judicial administration, $1.7 million for community development, $1.6 million for public works and $1.5 million for parks, recreation and culture. A separate $7.1 million (funded by the fire and EMS district levy) is budgeted for those emergency services.

Following Bradley’s presentation of the proposed tax rates and budget, the board voted unanimously to adopt both.

“This is the seventh consecutive cycle we have not raised real estate taxes or PP taxes,” District 1 Supervisor Mark Johnson said following last week’s vote. “I doubt very many counties in Virginia can say that.”

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