Staunton City Council adopts 2021 budget: Details on fees, taxes, impact on employees
In the next few days, the complete adopted budget will be available for review at www.ci.staunton.va.us/budget.
The total adopted budget for all funds is $114,290,621, and reflects a total reduction of $5.6 million in all funds, including a reduction of $2.9 million in the General Fund, compared to the FY 2020 adopted budget.
This budget is based on anticipated reductions in revenues from a variety of sources that are significantly affected by the economic and fiscal impacts of the ongoing public health crisis—primarily business license taxes, local sales taxes, meals taxes, and transient occupancy taxes.
The appropriation request is at 60 percent of the approved budget or $68,574,373. A 60 percent appropriation provides funds for contractual obligations, which often are paid in full at the beginning of the year. Other line items will be funded through the first six months of the fiscal year.
Staff will return to City Council in the fall for additional appropriations and by then hope to have a better sense of the full impact of the pandemic on the budget. The partial appropriation allows flexibility in making adjustments to address that impact.
Fees and taxes
The budget provides for a water user fee increase of 5 percent, or average residential billing increase of $1.26 per month, to meet pressing water needs including upgrades to the Gardner Spring pump station (75 years old) and the North River pipeline (nearly 100 years old), which together provide all of the city’s water supply.
An increase in refuse and recycling rates of 10 percent, or average residential billing increase of $1.90 per month, is also included and funds, in part, capital expenditures required to replace heavy equipment used in collection and to support necessary projects at the Augusta Regional Landfill, which the city owns and operates jointly with Augusta County and the City of Waynesboro.
A proposed two-cent increase in the real estate tax rate included in the city manager’s originally proposed budget was withdrawn, and the rate remains unchanged at $.95 per $100 of assessed value. All other tax rates remain the same as well.
Impact on city employees
The budget includes requires all full-time employees to take 10 furlough days, excluding employees who earn the equivalent of $15.00 per hour or less, and excluding law enforcement officers below the rank of sergeant and assigned to patrol, E911 dispatchers and evidence clerks, and excluding employees of Blue Ridge Court Services.
Fire-Rescue personnel will be required to take four furlough days.
The budget eliminates the proposed 2 percent salary increase which was to have been effective on Jan. 1, 2021.
The budget also freezes all vacant positions, with limited exceptions approved by the city manager.
No increase in employee contributions to health insurance—so important in these times—is included in the budget.
The adopted budget also includes funding for 64 part-time positions held previously by employees who were terminated recently when the city suspended certain programs and services due to the pandemic.
When the city moves forward into a recovery phase, the city will advertise and fill the vacant positions.