Local government costs mixed

Published 7:04 pm Tuesday, June 4, 2019

IW debt still ranks high, some costs below average

By Diana McFarland

Managing editor

Isle of Wight County moved up a notch to seventh place among Virginia counties for overall per capita debt, but sits around the middle or bottom of the pack when it comes to several other measures, such as education and law enforcement. 

Isle of Wight County’s per capita debt — that is, for each man, woman and child — is $6,273. 

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That puts it seventh out of the state’s 95 counties, coming in behind Arlington ($9,966), Fairfax ($9,333), Spotsylvania ($7,970), Stafford ($7,623), Loudoun ($7,440) and Powhatan ($6,451), according to the fiscal 2018 Comparative Report of Local Government Revenues and Expenditures, published by the Virginia Auditor of Public Accounts. 

Three counties did not report this year, Clarke, Russell and Warren, according to the report. 

Isle of Wight was ranked eighth for fiscal 2017. {mprestriction ids=”1,2,3,4,5,6″}

At the same time, Isle of Wight’s total debt fell from fiscal 2017 to 2018, from $238.5 million to $234.2 million. Total debt includes everything from bonds for capital projects to pensions. 

For fiscal 2020, Isle of Wight expects to pay $12.6 million in debt service with $7.4 million going to principal, according to budget documents.

For education, Isle of Wight is a bit above the middle of the pack for instructional spending, ranking 42nd among Virginia counties, at a per capita cost of $1,169. It falls closer to the bottom of the pile for administrative costs at $61.74 (74th place) and operations and maintenance at $133.02, or 73rd place. 

For law enforcement protection, Isle of Wight spends $100.54 per person, putting it in the bottom third at 74th place.

The county spends a bit more per person for fire and rescue, at $116.87, putting it above the middle at 40th place.  

When it comes to general government spending, Isle of Wight spends more than 58 other counties, at a per capita cost of $1,162.

Where Isle of Wight appears to be outspending more than two-thirds of other Virginia counties is in parks and recreation, at 14th place and $57.84 per person; and planning and community development, at 12th place and $92.54 per capita. 

Planning and community development includes spending on areas ranging from long-and-short range planning to the cost of attracting and retaining business as well as tourism activities, according to the Uniform Reporting Manual through the Auditor of Public Accounts.  {/mprestriction}