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Broadband initiative moves forward; budget input sought

The Greene County Board of Supervisors last week approved an agreement to partner with the Center for Innovative Technology to move the broadband initiative forward. “We already have a broadband committee that’s been meeting,” Supervisor Dale Herring, At-Large supervisor, said at the board’s Oct.

24 meeting. “This group has done a lot of this work already. That’s the group that will probably be charged with answering questions.”

Herring said someone asked him if the agreement prevents the county from working with other agencies. “No,” he said. “We would pursue all options,” Herring said. “This is a free service they offer. They’re willing to work with us because we have done this survey; hoping this gets us on a faster track.

There is no cost for the county.” Herring motioned to approve the agreement with David Cox, Monroe District, seconding. It was approved unanimously.

First budget workshop The board also held its first budget work session for fiscal 2019 prior to last week’s meeting. “The concept of this meeting was to offer up an opportunity for the citizens of the county to offer up any suggestions they see fit,” said John Barkley, county administrator. “We’ll have other opportunities to do that going forward but we wanted to start this process in a more organic fashion and build it up.”

Barkley gave a proposed budget process calendar for supervisors to review. Chairman Michelle Flynn of the Ruckersville District noted there wasn’t a date set for the auditor’s report and public question-and-answer session for January. Barkley said he isn’t sure yet which January meeting the auditor is available to present.

Flynn requested there be a public input portion during the Jan.

9 meeting, even if the auditor is not available to present until later in January. The board would also allow for the public to speak with the auditor at that meeting. Jim Frydl, Midway District supervisor, said it’s sometimes difficult to gain input from the public and suggested adding a public comment section on the budget to each meeting throughout the process.

“We’re going to be meeting anyway,” he said, noting sometimes when one big meeting there isn’t a lot of turnout. “It would be great if we have more input.” Flynn said she’d like to encourage residents to come and speak during the public comment portion if they have ideas or thoughts about the budget. “We certainly hear from people who have ideas after the budget had been developed,” Flynn said, saying she’d like to build a structure to encourage early input from the public.

One of the big questions facing the county is the funding cuts coming to public transit, including the Greene County Transit, Flynn noted. “I’d like to have it all come together as a plan, to really be planning for these things rather than figure it out on the fly,” she said. “Hopefully the state will set up and do its part to continue to fund it,” Frydl said. “It’s going to be a significant impact here if it doesn’t get funded.”

There will be time for separate public comment items on the fiscal ’19 budget on the Nov.

14, Dec.

11 and Jan.

9 agendas. The deadline for budget submission is Dec.

29 with the goal of a complete budget draft by Jan.

31. The county administrator will meet with departments and constitutional officers in early February with a final draft of the county budget revenues/expenditures finished by Feb.

16. The School Board is expected to adopt a budget to send to the Board of Supervisors by Feb.

21. Budget workshops with the Board of Supervisors will be Feb.

26-March 16.

The county will advertise its budget for public hearing by March 25 with a public hearing planned April 24 for the budget, tax rates and adopting a tax rate.

The budget is expected to be adopted May 8.

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