JCC New Budget Has More Revenue, Cautious Spending and Less Cash for Chamber

March 30th, 2011 by karenadmin

James City County released its $164 million revised 2012 budget Tuesday, which includes an additional $3.1 million in projected revenue although spending is still curbed due to expected hurdles in 2013 and beyond. The budget represents a new direction for the county, as it cuts tourism funding to agencies and redirects that cash to in-house operations that will solicit tourism business.

New County Administrator Robert Middaugh was cautious when retooling the 2012 budget, his first budget in his new position. Though the county expects to bring in a few million more in revenues in the coming year, Middaugh recommends no increase in taxes or fees, no pay increase for employees (who haven’t gotten raises in three years), no hiring of new employees and a plan to sock away some extra funds for future use. While there is some additional funding for one-time expenses and a shuffling of various staff positions, the proposed budget suggests some further cuts to outside agencies, including a significant reduction to the Greater Williamsburg Chamber and Tourism Alliance as the county plans to start its own tourism marketing fund. The school system will receive more than previously planned but still won’t receive the full amount it requested (see budget details below).

The county’s budget includes an extra $3.1 million in projected 2012 revenues as well as an expected 2011 surplus of $3.3 million. “After three years of declining budgets it would be tempting to use the increase…to add to recurring spending,” Middaugh writes in his budget message. This money could go to fund outside agencies or could go to staff pay increases, but he cautions, “looking ahead to FY 2013 and FY 2014, this budget has to avoid the addition of recurring costs, if at all possible.”

More than $1 million in extra revenue will be set aside to pad debt service as a reserve in case the county needs it in the future, Middaugh said Tuesday.

Some of the challenges the budget aims to take into account include unavoidable increases in fuel prices, health insurance, equipment maintenance and electricity rates, as well as unfunded mandates, which all account for many of the new spending increases. The budget also looks ahead to next year when property tax assessments are re-evaluated and will likely dip between three and five percent, which could mean millions of lost revenue in FY 2013.

Other spending increases are in the “one-time” category, including capital projects such as the planned renovation of Building D and razing of Building C at the county complex, a watershed study, redistricting and the zoning ordinance update.

This proposal is a modification of the fiscal year 2012 budget adopted earlier (the county produces a biennial budget but still modifies the plan each year). Work sessions on April 14, 18 and 20 will be devoted to the budget, which is slated for adoption on April 26.

Read the budget in its entirety on the county’s website.

Tourism

The county has fewer hotel rooms than neighboring York County and Williamsburg, but pays significantly more to the Alliance for tourism promotion of the Triangle. The new budget brings the county’s proposed 2012 share down to match the city’s contribution at $650,000, which Middaugh says is more equitable. In the previous version of the 2012 budget, the Alliance was slated to receive $875,000.

The county has a plan to spend the freed up dollars, however.

When Alliance President Dick Schreiber spoke to the Board of Supervisors and staff in January about his organization’s sports marketing plan, Middaugh at the time said he was concerned that sports marketing for the whole region was not a good deal for the county as it had a lion’s share of sports venues but fewer hotels and restaurants. This means less ‘revenue capture’ for the county, he said at the time. This is one of the reasons Middaugh proposes to use $280,000 to set up a tourism promotion fund to market the local economy, specifically.

The fund will help promote special events in the county as well as sports marketing for only county venues, which will help bolster revenues. The Board of Supervisors and the economic development office will be very engaged in this process, according to Middaugh.

When asked whether this will deal a blow to regional cooperation on tourism, Middaugh said he expects it will end up helping the other Triangle localities, as they have more hotels and businesses that would prosper should the county succeed.

The budget also reduces planned 2012 contributions to the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation (reduced by almost $30,000) and to Historic Jamestowne (by more than $10,000). Middaugh decided not to fund a request from the Williamsburg Hotel Motel Association, which has been looking for funding from all three localities this year but has had no luck so far.

County Staff

While the budget doesn’t offer raises again for employees, Middaugh says in his budget statement that, due to inflationary pressures of rising costs across the board, “pay increases cannot be deferred beyond FY 2012.”

He points out the county has seen a tremendous surge in population growth over recent years, while the county has cut back staff numbers to make up for the poor economy. This means that staff workloads have significantly increased; a stress that “cannot continue indefinitely.”

“They’re troopers,” he said Tuesday of county staff, and they give excellent customer service and work hard. Asking them to go another year without raises “is not fair to our own folks.”

Some staff costs have increased in the proposed budget due to an unfunded mandate under the Line of Duty Act, which helps first responders in the event of a catastrophe. This will cost about $50,000.

Health insurance renewals account for a 4.3 percent increase in costs for county health plans in the budget.

Virginia Retirement System obligations will still be fully funded; employees hired after July 1, 2010, will not be required to pay their contribution for VRS as the General Assembly didn’t pass legislation that would allow for all employees to pay their share. If it comes to pass that all employees would be able to pay into the system, Middaugh would suggest the county do so and also give employees a raise.

The only new staff positions (aside from shifts described below) in the budget are temporary ones associated with upcoming elections, which will require extra precincts due to a higher population.

Some positions will be realigned in the budget for various reasons. Changes include: a Senior Planner will shift to the Economic Development office as a Retention Coordinator because the county wants to focus more on economic development; and a Development Management Assistant has been shifted to a Zoning Officer in a newly created Zoning Enforcement Division so the county can respond to complaints more quickly.

Several positions are being transferred from the Stormwater Division to other areas to better reflect the various duties performed. Development Management is intended to cover private projects under development, General Services covers the creation and maintenance of county infrastructure, and Engineering and Site Development covers floodplain and watershed management. The various transferred stormwater positions will be reorganized into these divisions based on the job performed.

Also, Code Compliance has been renamed the Division for Building Safety and Permits.

Schools

The revised 2012 budget allocates $74.2 million for WJCC schools and is $450,000 more than previously planned, but falls short of the school’s request by $525,000 because the county doesn’t want to pay into WJCC’s reserve teachers fund. This fund allows for the hire of extra teachers in case of unexpected increases in student population; on average the school system hires about 5 teachers through this fund each year.

Middaugh says if the schools find that they need extra money for something unexpected, they can come back to the county and ask

A new vision for the county

Under Middaugh’s leadership, the county is reexamining its strategic plan and has already changed its vision and offered a new set of values. He says the current strategic plan doesn’t seem to have been fully embraced by the Board. Also, he wants to be sure to integrate Board and community desires into an action plan and ensure these priorities line up with spending. Read the changes to the vision and values here.

for help.

Outside Agencies

When possible, Middaugh says he wants to make sure the county is paying for actual services obtained through outside agencies, instead of simply paying for their general operations. This is why funding for Big Brothers Big Sisters and the Colonial Soil and Water Conservation District has been removed from this area of the budget and will instead be paid on a contract basis through other portions of the budget.

Funding for the Regional Air Service Enhancement Fund has been eliminated and some funding for other regional groups has been reduced, but generally outside agencies including education, environmental and public safety are receiving level funding.

Operating Expenses

The budget takes into account the operation of three new facilities: the new police building, the Freedom Park interpretive center and a new Fire Administration and Training Facility, which are all being opened with no increase in staff.

Capital Projects

The Capital Projects Fund totals roughly $8.7 million with the majority going to expand Fire Station 4 on Olde Towne Road and renovations to Mid-County Park and Building D at the County Government Center. Few school projects are included.

 

12 Responses to JCC New Budget Has More Revenue, Cautious Spending and Less Cash for Chamber

  1. Anonymous

    March 29, 2011 at 9:45 pm

    I truly hope the school board will use their funds wisely. Many of us are still baffled by their shutting down ALL Academy. A successful alternative program that could have been filled with up to 150 students at JAMES BLAIR. This would have solved the “overcrowding” issue through 2017 or 18. Go figure. I hope Dr. C will take control soon for everyone’s sake. This board fails to make good decisions over and over.

  2. Anonymous

    March 30, 2011 at 12:31 am

    So far, I like what I see in Robert Middaugh’s fresh approach to setting county budget priorities.

  3. Anonymous

    March 30, 2011 at 12:53 pm

    Hip Hip Hooray for the cut in funding to the do-nothing Tourism Alliance!!!!

    We are DELIGHTED to see this and hope the cuts to this dinosaur continue.

    All they do is try to swipe taxes for themselves, stuff money into their own pockets, generate useless studies that do nothing, and try to destroy the tourism-promoting endeavors of the true local entrepreneurs.

    Cut ‘em deeper we say!!!

  4. Anonymous

    March 30, 2011 at 1:59 pm

    You Go “Cut Alliance Deeper”! And I so agree…. This local, also, knows so well and understands how, over the years, the Alliance (named changed) DOES NOT, DOES HAS NOT represented ALL of the local businesses to the max, especially so many of the small business owners around town!!!

  5. Anonymous

    March 30, 2011 at 2:35 pm

    I don’t consider cutting funding for Jamestown/Yorktown Foundation and the Island to be a good idea. They are in the area and deserve our support

  6. Anonymous

    March 30, 2011 at 7:00 pm

    It is interesting to see that when budgets get “tight” people get off the “collaborative” bandwagon and actually think about where their money can be put to good use, and not “go along to get along” with tax money.

    The refreshing point made with this Budget is the continuing reduction in money to the Alliance by both the City and County. For too many years money was given without question or accountability; finally someone realizes they can get more for their money away from the Alliance.

  7. Anonymous

    March 30, 2011 at 7:08 pm

    Very wise move on part of JCC, and it really shows leadership by the new county administrator. I hope the board goes along with his proposal, which presents the best opportunity for the county. And what a bargain – Mr. Middaugh doesn’t make anywhere near the salary the chamber’s administrator makes. Not that ordinary people know that figure anyway, since the chamber executive committee that granted it doesn’t share it.

  8. Anonymous

    March 30, 2011 at 9:05 pm

    [quote name="re: JCC Budget"]I truly hope the school board will use their funds wisely. … This board fails to make good decisions over and over.[/quote]
    I couldn’t disagree more. The WJCC School board made an excellent decision in repurposing James Blair Middle School. It is an outdated school which doesn’t compare to the other schools in our district. And the ALL Academy was WAY TOO EXPENSIVE to continue for so few students. So great job, WJCC School Board! These decisions prove that you are fiscally responsible stewards of a large portion of our taxpayer dollars!

  9. Anonymous

    March 30, 2011 at 9:48 pm

    ALL Academy with a budget of $560,000 and 46 students = $12,173 per pupil. This is not way too expensive! It is barely below the per pupil amount for regular students! Obviously the Board was determined to kill this successful program for alt-ed students no matter the pleas from students parents, and community. By doing so they also created their own middle school “capacity” issue. James Blair as with the original plan should be an administrative office and PERMANENT home of an effective alt-ed school! If so, there would not be a looming capacity issue or at least not until 2017 or 18. Very sad!

  10. Anonymous

    March 30, 2011 at 9:56 pm

    I applaud the new administrator for paving his own path instead of following the old guard down the same path. But I am curious about one of the comments, how much does the new administrator get paid and how much does the Chamber Alliance President get paid? Where does the money come from to give to the Alliance? How much of the Alliance’s budget is used for salaries and wages? Something must of caught Mr. Middaugh’s eye when reviewing the expenditure side of his budget.

  11. Anonymous

    March 31, 2011 at 12:53 pm

    [quote name="Resident"]I applaud the new administrator for paving his own path instead of following the old guard down the same path. But I am curious about one of the comments, how much does the new administrator get paid and how much does the Chamber Alliance President get paid? Where does the money come from to give to the Alliance? How much of the Alliance’s budget is used for salaries and wages? Something must of caught Mr. Middaugh’s eye when reviewing the expenditure side of his budget.[/quote]

    To answer some of your questions: James City County Administrator Robert Middaugh’s annual salary is $165,000, plus a car allowance and access to the county’s fringe benefits, according to a press release announcing his appointment in June 2010. According to tax forms filed with the IRS, Greater Williamsburg Chamber and Tourism Alliance Executive Director Dick Schreiber was paid $268,200 in salary and other compensation in 2008. That is the last year for which salary information is available. Last fall, GWCTA executive committee members extended Schreiber’s contract through 2013 but would not disclose his pay. According to the Chamber’s 2008 tax forms, Schreiber’s compensation accounted for nearly 9 percent of the nonprofit’s income. For a detailed story about the chamber executive’s pay, click on this link: http://www.wydaily.com/local-news/5578-chambers-exec-committee-extends-schreibers-contract-pay-not-disclosed.html
    http://www.wydaily.com/local-news/5578-chambers-exec-committee-extends-schreibers-contract-pay-not-disclosed.html

  12. Anonymous

    March 31, 2011 at 6:01 pm

    Our school board is determined to homogenize our schools. Outside of James River Elementary, there are no schools of choice in the system. No magnet schools, no schools of the arts, no vocational schools, no gifted and talented schools. Forward looking districts have these options. The one alternative choice for middle school students,the ALL academy has been killed by a board that has no compassion for kids who need a different environment than the school they are zoned for.

    The board claims there is no money, but we here about ipads, trade shows in San Francisco, an HVAC unit on a stage, and money spent on consultants whose advice is ignored. I hope at the next election the citizens of this county vote to wipe the slate clean. We need board members that have vision, leadership, compassion for students, and take ownership for the decisions, the bad with the good.

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