State Budgeting Failure Not Expected to Impact County Budget

The state legislature’s inability to pass a budget by the end of its 2018 regular session is not expected to negatively impact the county budget, according to County Administrator Tim Hemstreet.

The difference between the two state chambers’ budgets centers around expanding Medicaid in Virginia, which could free up hundreds of millions into the state budget, some of which would be passed along to counties.

This year, the county’s budget includes more than $86 million from the state—about 5.7 percent of the county general fund—plus nearly $346 million for the schools. Next year’s budget, which supervisors are working on now, does not assume Medicaid expansion in Virginia, and the both chambers’ budgets include the amount of state funding projected in the current draft of the county budget.

If Medicaid is expanded, as the House of Delegates’ budget proposes to do, state funding would increase in several areas including education, and the county would see more funds from the state, according to a memo Hemstreet sent to county supervisors.

The General Assembly will convene a special session April 11 to go back to work on the state’s spending plan, but that is after the date on which county supervisors are scheduled to adopt their budget, April 3. Hemstreet wrote he and his staff are not aware of any state-related concerns that would prevent supervisors from adopting a budget that day.

It is possible for supervisors to adopt only a real estate tax rate that day, which must be done so the county can send out tax bills in early May. Supervisors could then continue to work within the expected revenues that real estate rate would yield. The new fiscal year begins July 1.

The last time the state failed to pass a budget by the end of its regular session was 2014. In that case, the state Director of Finance projected a funding shortfall. Supervisors nonetheless adopted a county budget on schedule.

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