At the Town Council meeting on Tuesday, April 5th, Town Manager Josh Farrar shared his proposed budget for FY22-23. While a thoughtful and detailed budget is vitally important for transparency, all of those details can also make it difficult to decipher Ashland's big-picture financial story.
Where do we stand economically coming out of the pandemic? What opportunities and challenges are we encountering? Which projects and programs are a priority in the year ahead? Let's find out...
The total proposed budget for FY2023 is $25,281,012, which is split into four primary funds:
- General Fund ($12,624,632): used for the bulk of the Town's recurring expenses and community services year-to-year
- Capital Projects Fund ($5,156,296): used for large-scale "generational" projects (see more below)
- Special Revenue Fund for Central Virginia Transportation Authority ($845,047): used for Ashland's portion of regional transportation investments
- Special Revenue Fund to Manage American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds ($6,655,037): used for the administration of ARPA funds and programs
Current Economic Conditions
Ashland is experiencing excellent growth in local revenues coming out of the pandemic. As a result, the proposed General Fund is 12.9% greater than the FY2022 Amended Budget. This growth (coupled with a $2,042,926 transfer from the General Fund to the Capital Projects Fund) will enable a substantial investment in generational capital projects (see "projects" below).
Challenges & Opportunities
Inflation, staff retention due to current employment conditions, and uncertainty around legislation coming out of the General Assembly pose potential challenges to Ashland's budget in the year ahead.
However, local revenue growth thanks to post-COVID pent-up travel demand coupled with increases in sales taxes across the county and several redevelopment opportunities currently underway present opportunities for continued revenue growth.
In the coming year, Josh recommends prioritizing investment in "generational capital projects" -- large-scale projects that will enhance the community's quality of life and improve economic development prospects for generations of Ashland-ers to come.
These projects include: streetscape and utility improvements along England Street, historic investment in sidewalks, trails and parks, continued investment in a municipal broadband network, increased community engagement efforts and community partner support, stormwater and drainage improvements to meet State-mandated Chesapeake Bay Preservation, and environmental quality standards, and ongoing funding for the Economic Development Authority to optimize opportunities for redevelopment.
A public input process around the budget has been underway since February 2022 with opportunities for feedback provided in person, by phone, or by email. Per Virginia code, the budget must be adopted by Town Council no later than June 30th and take effect July 1st.
- Tuesday, May 3rd at 7:00 pm: Real Estate Tax Rate Public Hearing & Budget Public Hearing (No Vote Taken)
- Tuesday, June 7th at 7:00 pm: Town Council Budget Adoption by Resolution (Vote Taken)
You can view a recording of Josh's entire budget presentation here or download a copy of the slideshow here. For more information on the Town's budget process contact Matt Reynal, Deputy Town Manager/Finance Director via email or at (804) 798-9219 with questions.