Gloucester County Public Schools superintendent Ben Kiser’s presented his recommended $64 million 2014 fiscal year budget to the Gloucester County School Board during its meeting Tuesday night, The proposed budget represents a 10.5 percent increase over the current $57.9 million allocation. The proposed school budget includes a 2 percent across-the-board raise for school employees, and Kiser anticipates a 5 percent increase in health insurance costs in the coming year. Kiser told the GMGJ the school system is anticipating a state revenue loss of more than $450,000 and a federal revenue loss of nearly $250,000.
The Isle of Wight Sheriff’s Office is searching for a Newport News woman believed to be one of the last people who saw Tuesday’s homicide victim, Torrey Anderson, alive. 21 year-old Anderson whose severely burned body was discovered in a wooded area off Nike Park Road in Carrollton, had spent the weekend with a woman in Newport News. The autopsy revealed that Anderson died from a gunshot wound before his body and a nearby white sedan were set on fire. Officials say “She is not considered a suspect but that It only makes sense for them to talk to the last people who saw the victim alive.” Anyone with information is asked to call the Crimeline at 1-888-LOCK-U-UP.
Prospects for passing legislation to raise more money for the state’s woefully underfunded transportation infrastructure improved Wednesday as the Senate passed a plan that would increase the gas tax. Last week Senate Democrats killed Gov. Bob McDonnell’s transportation proposal, which would do away with the gas tax in favor of raising the state sales tax to 5.8 percent, arguing that it did not provide enough new transportation funding. The Senate plan increases the amount of the existing sales tax earmarked for transportation from 0.5 percent to 0.55 percent.
A public meeting on a draft water quality improvement plan will be held from 6-8 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 27, in the Mathews High School media center. State officials will be present to hear comments from residents on the plans developed for tidal shellfish waters in Queens, Stutts, Morris, Billups, Edwards, Harper, Wilton, Healy, Cobbs, Lanes, Hudgins, Barn, French’s, Dancing and Ferry creeks and a portion of the lower Piankatank River. The streams are on the list of impaired, or “dirty,” waters because they violate the state’s water quality standard for bacteria. The draft plan includins replacing failing septic systems; removing discharges of human waste to streams; reducing pollutants from agricultural, urban and residential areas, and starting a pet-waste disposal and education program.
The City of Hampton is planning to raise the property tax rate from the current $1.04 per $100 of assessed valuation to as high as $1.28. City Manager Mary Bunting said the proposed increase is necessary to maintain and invest in city and school services. Hampton is anticipating a $7.2 million budget gap for fiscal year 2014, which starts July 1, and Hampton City Schools is projecting a shortfall of $8.9 million. Other Peninsula localities are also signaling their residents to expect higher property tax rates.