Saturday marked the monthly meeting of the Neighborhood Council of Williamsburg at the Quarterpath Recreation Center. The agenda for the meeting featured an open forum offering community members a chance to voice their general opinions, as well as an overview of and general commentary on the 2012 fiscal budget plan with Williamsburg Finance Director Phil Serra.
Kate Hoving, a communications specialist for the City Manager’s office, began the open forum section with a program organized by the city’s Green Team, designed to encourage residents to be more ecologically friendly in their homes.
“This [ecological program] is a friendly challenge … we don’t want to make anybody feel less “green” than anybody else,” Hoving said.
Two Sharpe scholars from the College of William and Mary, Margaret Schwenzfeier ’14 and Danielle Waltrip ’14 then introduced the Neighborhood Engagement Committee, a program which focuses on recruiting members from neighborhoods that are underrepresented in the NCW.
“The NCW is a great community forum and we would like to get more people involved, including students and neighborhoods that don’t send representatives to the meetings,” Schwenzfeier said.
Serra then spoke about expenditures and revenues for both 2011 and 2012.
“I promised you that you would learn where your tax dollars are going,” councilman Don Hess said when introducing Serra.
Serra began with a PowerPoint presentation detailing the budget since fiscal year 2006.
“We had high operating funds from 2006-2009 … though they began to lower by 2009, we are still expecting a surplus of 1.3 million and a balanced budget of 32 million,” Serra said.
Serra outlined the main revenue generators, highlighting the contribution of property taxes and general state revenues to this area. He also noted the main expenditures of the budget: public work projects such as the reconstruction of Prince George Street, in addition to the public school system in general.
“The [economic] downturn has affected real estate values in different communities… the majority of our revenue is invested in government bonds or commercial paper,” Serra said.
This differentiation was deemed significant because government bonds are generally less affected by economic fluctuations than common stocks.
NCW chairman Jim Joseph was ambivalent about his approval of the budget.
“Yes, I do [approve], but it’s difficult to comment, as [Serra] did not go into specifics about proposed expenditures,” Joseph said.