Proposal to Increase Spotsy Budget Transparency and Accountability
Each February, the Spotsylvania County budget cycle accelerates as ideas are formalized for the upcoming fiscal year. In simple terms, most of the projected tax revenue increases due to growth or cost savings are allocated in the county administrator's recommended budget. The Board has the ability to add or subtract from the budget, but often this does not happen. In recent years, when funds are allocated they are not scrutinized as passionately as new items are when presented by individual Board members.
If elected, I will advocate for changes in this area, specifically on personnel additions. Most County Departments can always use additional employees due to increased burdens to meet the growing county needs. If a department concludes they need additional personnel, they should be encouraged to present a strong substantiated case of their needs to the Board. Some department heads do already present their cases, but it seems to be more focused on ensuring already allocated positions are not removed, not advocating for full needs of the department.
If we are to be fiscally responsible with limited resources, clearly each department will not be able to receive all of their requests. However, it should be the responsibility of the Board to ultimately weigh those costs and benefits.
Surely some budgetary discretion needs to be delegated to the county administrator for rising costs of ongoing expenditures. However, new expenditures specifically addressing personnel additions should be separated and debated by the Board.
This proposal will seek to achieve three goals. First, it will increase Board transparency and accountability. Second, it will place greater emphasis on department heads to develop strong justification for new positions. Third, it will create a better process to allocate funds for the school budget, which in recent years has only received leftover funds.
This will better position the Board to address shifting budget priorities without being accused of taking away new positions allocated by the county administrator's recommended budget. Lastly, it will also serve to improve the public's understanding of the scope of the county's needs and ideally increase public participation by encouraging citizens to voice their thoughts throughout the entire process.