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Local aid to state opposed

Friday, November 23, 2012

By MICKEY POWELL - Bulletin Staff Writer

The chairman of the state House Appropriations Committee wants to see so-called “local aid to the commonwealth” repealed or at least reduced.

Henry County and Martinsville officials were glad to hear that, considering that the localities are having to return more than $2.5 million over five years to the state, which now is seeing budget surpluses.

During the committee’s recent retreat in Suffolk, its chairman, Del. Lacey Putney, said in prepared remarks that “balancing our budget by relying on local governments to send back (to Richmond) a portion of the money we give them does not make much sense at this juncture.”

“We now need to either unwind this local aid reversion ... or make specific cuts in its place, because passing money back and forth doesn’t seem right,” said Putney, an independent from Bedford.

From fiscal 2009 through the current budget year, Henry County will give back more than $1.5 million and Martinsville will return more than $1 million, according to figures provided by the county and city finance departments.

County and city officials, both locally and statewide, have voiced vehement opposition to the state forcing them to make such returns.

In the current fiscal year, localities statewide are being required to give back a total of $50 million. That amount is to drop to $45 million in fiscal 2014, the Virginia Municipal League (VML) has reported.

According to its website, VML wants to see a budget amendment put forth in the 2013 General Assembly session that would end the payback in the current fiscal year’s budget and in the future.

Asked if he thinks Putney’s influence can convince the assembly to reduce or eliminate the local aid to the state, Martinsville Interim City Manager Leon Towarnicki said “I can only hope that would be the case.”

Henry County Administrator Tim Hall said, “I’m optimistic it’s on the radar screen” as a result of Putney’s concerns.

However, “I don’t think any one person” can get the assembly to make any decision, Hall said. “It takes a groundswell” of influence.

 

 
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