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Hanover County supervisors to consider 13% budget increase

Budesky speaks
Shaban Athuman
VPM News
County Administrator John A. Budesky presents the budget to the Hanover County Board of Supervisors on Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2024.

About half of the $768.9M budget would go to education and emergency services.

Hanover County Administrator John Budesky unveiled the proposed fiscal year 2025 budget to the Board of Supervisors earlier this week.

Budesky, alongside representatives from the county sheriff’s department and school division, said the proposal reflects residents’ desire for high-quality services, infrastructure improvements and tax relief.

“This is a responsive budget to the feedback that we heard from our residents,” Budesky said at Wednesday's meeting. “I would have loved to have come here and introduced a tax reduction to you … but I also need to be honest with you, I need to be honest with our citizens about what challenges we faced to sustain the high-quality service we have.”

Hanover’s FY25 budget is projected to be around $768.9 million, a 13.2% increase over the current fiscal year. Some of that can be attributed to growth in real estate, personal property and sales taxes, although Budesky said the county has no plans to raise its tax rates this budget cycle.

“It's a balance to make sure that we're meeting the operational needs that our citizens demand, as well as maintaining that in a low-cost, low-tax environment,” Budesky said. “We want to be sure that we can provide services to our residents that sustain the high level of service that they've come to expect.”

Budesky said the budget proposal calls for a 4% salary increase for county employees — with additional money set aside to ensure “market competitiveness,” particularly for the public safety sector.

About half of Hanover’s budget will be spent on enhancing the county’s education and emergency services.

May listens
Shaban Athuman
VPM News
Hanover County School Board Chairperson Bob May listens as John A. Budesky, Hanover's County Administrator, presents the County’s Budget on Wednesday, February 21, 2024 in Hanover, Virginia.

Hanover County Public Schools

The school board got a glimpse at its proposed budget in January and approved it last week.

At the Wednesday meeting, Hanover Schools Superintendent Michael Gill and School Board Chairperson Bob May addressed the division’s priorities: providing a high-quality learning environment for students and staff.

“When crafting a budget, though we have to be very transparent about our needs, we have to be very forthcoming about where our pain points are,” Gill told the board.

The school board approved a budget that includes a 4% salary increase for eligible employees, as well as targeted adjustments for custodians, transportation and food service staff, and teachers with 25 or more years of experience.

Teachers with that level of experience are the only group referenced in the budget proposal that has its duration of service tied to compensation.

The division also plans to hire additional special education teachers and instructional assistants, and more teachers for English language learners.

It also plans to allocate money from the general fund to retain 14 assigned substitutes, pay teachers who cover classes during their planning periods, and hire three senior teachers and one math coach.

The positions are currently funded through federal stimulus dollars, which run out at the end of September.

Additionally, the proposal identifies a long-range plan to replace the county’s aging school facilities — like Beaverdam and Battlefield elementary schools. In the next five to seven years, Hanover plans to have five new elementary schools built or funded — though construction could take longer, according to Budesky.

Investments in public safety

Budesky’s proposed budget would fund an initiative that has long been a goal of Sheriff David Hines.

“I'm pleased to report that effective next school year, we will have an authorized position to place a deputy in every public school in Hanover County,” Hines told the board.

Sheriff Hines speaks
Shaban Athuman
VPM News
Hanover County Sheriff David R. Hines presents his department’s Budget and end of the year review to the Hanover County Board of Supervisors on Wednesday, February 21, 2024 in Hanover, Virginia.

The budget's long-range plan also calls for funding 11 new law enforcement positions over five years.

Apart from law enforcement, the FY25 budget aims to address critical coverage gaps in fire and EMS services by reducing the county’s dependency on cross-staffing stations. In order to do so, Hanover plans to add 18 firefighter-medic positions over two years, establish two 24-hour ambulances and complete ongoing public safety building projects.

While Hanover is working to replace its fire stations in Laurel Meadow and Doswell, the county’s capital investment plan calls for the replacement of two additional fire stations. The county is anticipating the funding of a new public safety headquarters in FY26.

Parks and public engagement

Budesky also outlined several budget areas aimed at enhancing residents’ everyday lives.

These recommendations include $8.5 million to improve the county's park facilities, a five-year $138.8-million investment in local roads and $40 million to support the county’s tax relief and expanded mental health services.

“I can tell you in the past year, not a single resident has come up to me and said, ‘I want to see less service,’” Budesky said. “I hope they believe that the budget that we introduced is responsive to what they've told us.”

The county administrator added that the community will have plenty of opportunities to provide feedback on the proposed budget before it’s voted on in the spring. Residents will have their first chance to offer opinions on the budget during supervisors’ regular Feb. 28 meeting.

Lyndon German covers Henrico and Hanover counties for VPM News.
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