After Cuts, Purcellville Council Takes Revised Budget to Hearing

After weeks of detailed review of Town Manager Robert W. Lohr’s proposed fiscal year 2018 budget, the Purcellville Town Council will hold a public hearing on its work Tuesday night.

The council, so far, has accomplished its goal of scaling down proposed utility rate hikes and keeping tax rates steady.

Lohr’s budget totaled $20 million. The council, in a series of non-binding straw votes, cut that by 2.2 percent.

The major change was structural—turning back accounting practices that allowed the town’s General Fund to be reimbursed from the utility funds for administrative and other support for the water and sewer systems. The approach was designed in concept to ensure that utility customers, rather than taxpayers at large, bear the full actual costs of operating the systems. The result, however, is higher utility rates.

In its votes, the council reduced those chargebacks by 27 percent, reducing the Water Fund and Wastewater Fund budgets by $162,279 each. That change and other reductions are expected to allow the town to avoid proposed 7 percent rate increases. Instead, the council plans no increase in water rates and a 2 percent increase in sewer rates.

To hold the town’s tax rates—including the 22-cent real estate tax rate—level, the council had to find $324,500 in General Fund budget reductions to reflect that loss in “revenue” from the utility funds. By the time the straw votes wrapped up last week, the council majority—often in 4-3 votes—had accomplished that and $54,800 more.

The budget of the administration division was cut by 4.5 percent, the Police Department by 5.1 percent, and Public Works by 3.5 percent.

The council’s own budget was reduced by 11.7 percent, but most of that reduction was achieved by a vote to cancel the town’s $8,000 annual membership in the Northern Virginia Regional Commission, which is led by former mayor Robert W. Lazaro as its executive director.

The town’s small economic development budget was reduced by 31.4 percent, with $5,500 in saving from reducing funding for special events and tourism promotion and not operating a visitor center at the Train Station.

Tuesday’s public hearing is designed to gather feedback on the work and the council plans to hold at least one other work session before adopting the budget June 13.

Details of the town budget can be viewed at purcellvilleva.gov/budget.

In addition to the hearing, comment may be made by email to purcellvilletc@purcellvilleva.gov, by calling 540-338-7421, or using the town’s discussion board at purcellvilleva.gov/CommunityVoice.

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