Maintenance Budget Eyed

County Spending Plan Includes First Employee Raises In Five Years

Posted: April 4, 2013

Rockingham County Sheriff’s Office Cpl. Chris Greathead directs traffic on Mosby Road during a fire Tuesday morning. The county is proposing a budget for the next fiscal year that includes not only a 3 percent pay raise for law enforcement personnel but the possibility of adding two more deputies. (Photo by Nikki Fox / DN-R)
HARRISONBURG — Rockingham County’s proposed budget for the next fiscal year includes raises for employees for the first time in five years.

County staff, including teachers, would receive a 2 percent salary increase under the proposed $313 million fiscal 2014 budget, with the exception of constitutional officers and their staff.

Earlier this year, the Virginia General Assembly passed a bill requiring a 3 percent raise for constitutional officers and staff members, which includes sheriffs and deputies.

Altogether, the raises cost about $2.1 million, and they would take effect Aug. 1, according to the county’s Finance Committee.

The last time employees received an effective, permanent pay increase was July 1, 2008. Since then, they’ve received two bonuses.

Last year, legislators required a 5 percent increase in pay, but that was to offset a state-mandated change for employees to pay 5 percent of their salaries to the Virginia Retirement System.

The Board of Supervisors will hold a public hearing on the proposed budget 6 p.m. Wednesday at Spotswood High School.

The proposed budget, which would take effect July 1, is available for review at the County Administration Center, 20 E. Gay St., Harrisonburg, and county library branches. A synopsis is available online at www.rockinghamcountyva.gov.

County Administrator Joe Paxton said no major changes are planned from this fiscal year to the next.

“This budget is what I would call a maintenance budget,” he said.

The proposed spending blueprint is about $6.5 million, or 2 percent, bigger than this year’s amended budget, while the general fund is about $450,000 less, a difference of less than half a percent.

The general fund includes general administration, judicial administration, public safety, public works, community development, parks and recreation, and other allocations.

Included in the budget are six additional public safety positions: two road deputies, three fire and rescue personnel, and potentially another assistant fire marshal, though the latter is still under review.

If funded, the two deputies will bring the Rockingham County Sheriff’s Office closer to the staff level before cuts associated with the economic downturn took effect about five years ago, Sheriff Bryan Hutcheson said.

“It’s re-funding the positions. ... We’re not getting bigger,” he said. “We’re just trying to get back to where we were.”

The three fire and rescue employees are intended to provide support for the eastern part of the county on nights and weekends, Chief Jeremy Holloway said.

The move is needed because Augusta County had staff based in Grottoes that it moved to Weyers Cave.

County officials also included money for a new Social Services building in the fiscal 2014 budget.

Harrisonburg-Rockingham County Social Services, a joint operation of the city and county, has been cramped for years. Both local governments have set aside funding over the years for a new facility.

Rockingham County, serving as the fiscal agent for the operation, has $2.5 million in its budget should the Board of Supervisors and Harrisonburg City Council decide to move forward with a project to address the space issue.

Money is also set aside for a $2.5 million upgrade to the county’s Three Springs water treatment plant, but no decision has been made about that project either.

Contact Jeremy Hunt at 574-6273 or jhunt@dnronline.com



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