Lancaster begins work on $44.9 million county budget

Jackie Nunnery

by Jackie Nunnery

HEATHSVILLE—The Lancaster board of supervisors on Thursday, March 9, held a work session to begin hammering out a budget for the 2024 fiscal year, currently at $44,941,926. The board will meet again with department heads at 5 p.m. March 28 and 30 to discuss budget requests more specifically.

School budget

Ernest Palin explained to the board that the finance committee (Palin and Craig Giese) had directed the schools at a January meeting to provide teacher and staff salary increases within a level funded budget locally at $11,847,348. That first proposed budget included a 5% increase across the board, with teachers receiving 3.5% plus a 1.5% step.

During the February 23 joint work session, the board made two requests, to see costs associated with other pay raises and to ensure that all employees are making a minimum of $15 per hour. Palin said they found that only three bus drivers were making less than that and would be at a $15 hourly wage by the end of the school year. Giese added that superintendent Jessica Davis “was doing what we asked. We didn’t want people to think that she wasn’t fighting for her employees.”

While Palin asked for and received agreement from the board in keeping the local funding level for this year, there was some concern about staying competitive with other counties. “I’m concerned about falling way behind,” Bill Lee said. Palin said Davis had committed to completing a salary survey next year and Jason Bellows asked county administrator Don Gill to coordinate a salary survey of county employees. “Let’s make sure we’re competitive across the board….

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