As we head into the first week of June, Town Council will take a final vote on the FY2024 Budget at their regular meeting on June 6th, 2023. The advertised budget was built using expertise from Town staff, information gathered from citizen input over many years, and a focus on accomplishing priorities set by the Town Council.
The goals for the FY2024 budget were:
- Continued investment in connectivity – both physical connectivity through construction and completion of paths and sidewalks while also investing in our community engagement activities to better inform the public.
- Align police department staffing with operational requirements.
- Planning for a structurally balanced budget.
- Adds $300,000 in new funding for sidewalks while also programming our Central Virginia Transportation Authority (CVTA) revenues to provide ongoing funding for sidewalks starting in FY25.
- Adds three new officer positions to fully staff the police department and ensure our officers are not working excessive overtime so they can have time to rest and recuperate.
- Provides 7.5% pay increases to existing salaried staff.
- Invests over $300,000 in a revenue stabilization fund to prepare for future economic uncertainty and a transition away from using federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) dollars for any ongoing expenditures.
- Allocates $575,000 of CVTA funds towards the England Street Streetscape project that should begin in Fall 2023.
- Provides funding to repair and upgrade the Town skate park at Pufferbelly Park.
- Invests $75,000 of local money to improve the landscaping in the medians along Rt. 54 between I-95 and Rt. 1.
- Lowers the personal property tax rate by $0.07 – from $0.77 to $0.70.
- Creates a new class of personal property tax for data center equipment at a rate of $0.10. This is a partnership with Hanover County to adopt Town and County rates that are competitive in the data center market to lure these high-tax producing/low-impact businesses to our community.
- Completely eliminates the Town decal fee for all classes of vehicles ($25 per car, $15 per motorcycle).
- Increases the cigarette tax by $0.22 per pack – from $0.22 to $0.44 per pack.
- Makes changes to the consumer utility tax as noted in the following chart.
As you can see we are attempting to make significant investments that all have an underpinning of quality of life. Whether it is additional officers to improve safety, money for sidewalks and parks, or investments in landscaping in and around the I-95 interchange, the Town is doing its best to make the Center of the Universe a wonderful place to live, work or have some fun.
Finally, as always, I encourage anyone with questions regarding the budget to email or call me directly at Jfarrar@ashlandva.gov or (804) 798-9219.
Josh Farrar, Town Manager