Supervisors get look at revenue; still waiting on expenses

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By John Barnhart

    It’s too soon for Bedford County’s supervisors to tell how hard it will be to develop a county budget for the next fiscal year. They received a report at a Monday evening work session on revenue predictions.    
    According to figures provided to the supervisors by Frank Rogers, interim county administrator,  Bedford County will get an additional $4.9 million in real estate tax revenue after current city residents begin paying the county real estate tax on their property. The projections also anticipate a slight drop in state funding and a slight increase in federal funding.
    The county expects to get an additional $6 million from the state for the school division as a result of Bedford’s reversion to town status. However, the county will no longer get payments from the city under the city/county school contract as one of the parties to that contract, the city of Bedford, will cease to exist with reversion. The amount that the city paid to the county under the school contract was based on the size of the school budget approved by the county.
    The revenue forecast is only half of the picture, according to interviews with some supervisors.
    “We only got the revenue side last night,” said District 1 Supervisor Bill Thomasson. “ We didn’t get the expense side.”
    Thomasson noted that they don’t yet know what the school board will request. They don’t yet know what the state will do, or what the federal government will do.
    “We don’t know yet,” was Thomasson’s answer as to whether this will be a difficult budget year was.
    “You have revenue, but you don’t have the expense side,” said District 3 Supervisor Roger Cheek, echoing Thomasson’s thoughts.
    “I know there are going to be  a lot of expenses and they are probably going to go up,” he added.
    Cheek said that the extra revenue that will come from collecting real estate tax on property in the city could easily be swept away by additional expenses.
    One expense was mentioned, and that got District 2 Supervisor Curry Martin’s attention.
    “Insurance is going up 14 percent,” Martin said. “That’s a major hit.”
    The supervisors want to avoid a tax increase.
    Thomasson mentioned that there are people in the county in tight financial circumstances.
    “A lot of these folks are just barely making ends meet and a lot of them are not,” he said.