Chincoteague Town Council Adopts $9.8 Million FY 2023 Budget

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By Carol Vaughn — The Chincoteague Town Council at its May 19 meeting voted to adopt a $9.8 million town budget for fiscal year 2023.

No one spoke at a May 2 public hearing held to receive comment about the budget.
Highlights of the 2023 budget include the town taking on the Chincoteague Civic Center fund.

Additionally, the Virginia Retirement System employer contribution increased by 2.81%.
The budget also includes a 5% increase for employee health insurance and two new positions in the Chincoteague Police Department.

Capital improvement highlights in the budget include rebuilding the boat ramp at Memorial Park; replacing a backhoe; purchasing a patrol car for the police department; replacing the Cropper Street water and storm sewer lines, as well as pavement and sidewalks; and replacing the final wooden pier at Curtis Merritt Harbor.

The council at a previous meeting approved lowering the real estate tax rate from 7 cents to 5.9 cents per hundred dollars of value, after the 2022 Accomack County assessment showed increased property values.

2022 Surplus Allocated
Vice Mayor Chris Bott reported there is a forecasted surplus of $798,343 for fiscal year 2022, mainly due to increases in revenue, including federal American Rescue Plan Act funds the town received, along with increased revenue from meals and occupancy taxes.

Town Manager Mike Tolbert had, at Bott’s request, recommended specific accounts to which to transfer amounts from the surplus to replenish accounts that have been spent down in the past several years, Bott said.

The council unanimously approved making the following year-end allocations from the surplus:
Transfer $146,444 to Beach, Recreation, and Tourism
Transfer $100,000 to Boat Ramp Reserve
Transfer $100,000 to Property Acquisition Reserve
Transfer $200,000 to Park Equipment Reserve.

The action leaves $251,899 in unallocated surplus funds.

The council approved amending the 2022 budget to account for additional revenue, including the second allotment of federal ARPA funds, nearly $1.5 million, received by the town.

No one spoke at a public hearing to receive comment about the amendment.

Student Government Day
The Town Council heard a report about the annual Student Government Day, a longstanding Chincoteague tradition.

“Our school is so fortunate to have the town’s support,” said, Katie Farrell, Chincoteague Combined Schools principal.

She thanked the Town Council for sponsoring the annual Student Government Day, during which high school seniors took on the roles of town officials, including holding a special student-led Town Council meeting Wednesday, May 18.

“They enjoyed learning how the town works and the ins and outs of every day,” she said.
Chincoteague High School Senior Lindsey O’Shea reported to the council on Student Government Day.

“As we arrived yesterday, we were greeted by the heads of each department,” O’Shea said, adding the department heads gave students a summary of the day’s plans, along with a tour of their respective buildings.

The seniors then split into groups and began gathering information for their council meeting to be held later that day.

Some students met with Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge officials to discuss plans for the beach and damages from the latest storm.

Others went out “to identify things in the community that could be introduced or improved,” O’Shea said.

Items the students discussed included causeway safety, how to introduce more teen-related activities in town, and how to restore town parks.

Among recommendations made by the student government was to create a mural at Brianna’s Kindness Park, and to expand existing annual event such as the Decoy and Art Festival and the Blueberry Festivalto include more locations in town.

Additionally, there was a suggestion to form a Maddox Boulevard merchants group, similar to the Main Street group, according to the minutes of the student-led meeting.

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