Many Unknowns When It Comes to State and Local Budgets
Spring is the season when Virginia’s local governments put the finishing touches on their own budgets for the next fiscal year, which begins July 1st. But they’re finding it difficult to craft their spending plans without knowing exactly how many dollars they will receive from the state-which is unknown due to the state budget impasse. They’re trying to get the job done, anyway, and in some cases, with consequences to local taxpayers.
Some localities have delayed acting in hopes that a state budget will be passed in the near future. But Virginia Association of Counties Executive Director Jim Campbell said by law, localities must adopt their budgets soon. Campbell heard from two-thirds of counties in his recent survey and found that half of those have adopted a spending plan.
“They are indeed guessing. They are using an educated guess by basically falling back on what they received this current year-and figuring that they can at least count on that much. They’re just unaware of what they’re going to get from the state, so they have to step up to the plate and be responsible to fund the services that their citizens demand-and are going to do so without the state’s assistance at this point.”
But he said some approved budgets will impact homeowners.
“Over half of them have already adopted a budget with increased taxes to make up for the anticipated deficiencies in state funding for public safety, public education, and social services.”
Campbell said another challenge is that localities are required to adopt school budgets by May 1st and issue school contracts by June 1st.