State agencies, localities brace for new cuts

By Andy Jenks - bio | email
Posted by Terry Alexander - email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Virginia's budget woes threaten to do more damage to state agencies facing a new round of cuts. At the same time, counties and cities are bracing for what will likely be some tough months ahead.

State agencies and their employees know that further cuts are coming. Now, their counterparts in county and city programs are beginning to realize that they're at risk, too.

No one wanted it this way, but organizations, like VDOT, are getting pretty good at making cuts. Rest stops are closed. Workers are unemployed. Still, the organization isn't done.

"We're adding about another $900 million in revenue shortfalls that we're gonna have to tack on top of that," said Jeff Caldwell, VDOT.

VDOT decision makers don't yet know what will happen, which is consistent within state agencies, and local governments.

"Everything is on the table, education, public safety, social services," said James Campbell, Virginia Association of Counties.

Campbell is preparing his members for tough days to come.

"They indeed need to prepare for some more budget cuts. The federal stimulus money will be drying up, and will not be as much, and the state budget cuts will continue to grow," said Campbell.

In Henrico, for example, state funds counted for about 35-percent of the most recent county budget, or about 306-million dollars. Most goes to education but other previously sacred departments will feel it this time as well.

"This is somewhat of a new concept for us, yes. It may affect some other behind the scenes programs. But, from a public safety perspective, it should not affect how we deliver service," said Henrico County Division of Fire Capt. Chris Buehren.

The bottom line is that budget writers, don't yet know what their bottom line is. So they all await specifics from the capitol, knowing that difficult decisions will have to be made.

"We don't know exactly where those are coming from yet," Caldwell said.

"We will see a trickle-down effect in some capacity once it's determined what the cuts are in," said Buehren.

Governor Kaine indicated that specific cuts on the state level would be known in September. But localities could have to wait for the next budget to come out in December, to see what kind of hit is coming from the state.

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