Nelson County’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2022 drew little input from the public during a May 4 hearing and now awaits final approval from the county’s board of supervisors.
According to documents, the general operating fund and Nelson County Public Schools’ operations budget are the two largest parts of the county’s more than $74 million budget at roughly $42 million and $27.5 million, respectively. There are no changes in local tax rates.
School funding is based off an enrollment of 1,589 compared to the 1,507 that was advertised, resulting in an increase of $224,522, or 1%.
Expenditures include a 5% salary and benefits increase for county employees, additional public safety costs and capital outlay projects, including funding for a study to evaluate the consolidation of the county’s two elementary schools.
The county’s fiscal year 2022 budget includes more than $2.9 million in funds from the COVID-19 American Rescue Act Plan recently signed into law by President Joe Biden.
Local funds pay for more than half of the division’s operating costs with a Local Composite Index, or the percentage of school funding a locality is required to split with the state, of 56%. Based on an enrollment of 1,507, the county’s local contribution for fiscal year 2022 of $15.8 million is roughly double what is required.
NCPS Superintendent Martha Eagle was the only speaker to address the board during the hearing. She thanked the board for its support through the COVID-19 pandemic that resulted in more than a year of entirely at-home learning for many division students.
“I stood here last year during the public hearing and spoke of the worry we had for the many unknowns facing the new school year,” Eagle said. “I asked for assurance from you as a board that you would partner with us as we planned to work through all of the forthcoming changes and continue to provide the best possible education ... and I am very thankful for your continued support.”
In addition to providing needed funding and support last year, Eagle also thanked the board for partnering with school officials to re-envision the division’s capital improvement planning process going forward.
“I believe we have made great strides to build a stronger bond between our boards and I look forward to continuing this,” Eagle said.
Nelson County Public Schools is expecting to receive more than $3.6 million from the American Rescue Act. Candy McGarry, the county’s director of finance, said it is unclear if that amount includes $721,000 for the effects of learning loss on students during the pandemic, according to her presentation to supervisors.
Supervisors took no action following the hearing as they are required to wait a period of seven days before adopting the budget, which takes effect July 1. The board is scheduled to approve the budget during its meeting Tuesday.