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Property values still hot topic at CB town council

The Colonial Beach Town Council meeting began last Thursday with a discussion on the recent property value assessments completed by Pearson Assessment Services, which was were hired by Westmoreland County.  
County Supervisor Larry Roberson discussed a presentation given by Fred Pearson at the last Board of Supervisors meeting and said he, like many other citizens, had gripes about the reassessment since his property values went up 150 percent.
“I’m not happy with that” Roberson said.

Roberson said the company is going back and reducing non-waterfront land values probably by 15 percent, which he did not think would solve the problem.
“As a board member we don’t have anything to do with it until it is finalized and presented to us,” Roberson said. “At that time we have the right to accept or reject the assessed values.”
Roberson continued: “When we finally come up with the values then we have to reduce the tax rate. The state of Virginia does not allow us to make more than 101 percent from what we did last year.”
Roberson admitted that some of the current assessed values would cause the tax rate to be higher than the 101 percent.
Roberson expressed concern that Colonial Beach always pays a little higher rate than those in the county.
What turned into a lengthy debate over why Beach residents pay more was simply explained by Councilman David Coombes making this observation: “The value of the homes and land in Colonial Beach is higher than the overall value of the land and homes in Westmoreland County.”
Simply put, the same home in the county is worth more in Colonial Beach due to all the services provided such as police, town government, rescue and fire, etc.  
Roberson said the entire Board of Supervisors believes corrections are needed to the assessed property values because the increases are way over what the properties are worth.
In his presentation to the supervisors Fred Pearson said the reason for this is that Pearson compared 2008 and 2009 property prices. He had many property values for 2008 but very few for 2009 because fewer properties were sold last year.
Pearson is meeting with individuals who called in by Jan. 27 to dispute their assessed values.  When he is finished, he will let those people know what their value is and if he has adjusted it.
After that an Equalization Board will be formed and folks will have a chance to dispute their assessed values again.
It doesn’t look like the Board of Supervisors will let these property values rest at the levels they are now.
The council swiftly passed four resolutions and debated changing the meeting times for committee meetings.
Resolution #05-10 authorizing the Town of Colonial Beach to sponsor the Colonial Beach Historical Society in the Department of Motor Vehicles’ special license plate program was passed unanimously and without discussion.
The town recognizes the importance of promoting awareness of the town both within the local community and beyond. The Historical Society will be granted sponsorship and is authorized to use the official town seal in connection with the new special license plat development program.
Resolution #06-10 Authorizing the Mayor and Town Manager to sign on behalf of the Town of Colonial Beach approving a charter change of Rappahannock Regional Criminal Justice Training Academy was passed without debate.
Chief Hawkins explained that this resolution was merely a house-keeping procedure to assure that the academy’s charter reflects current State Code.
Resolution #07-10 reappoints Kent Rodeheaver for another term to the Colonial Beach Planning Commission.
Resolution 08-10 brings $3,983 in grant money into the budget for an anti-gang sub-grant awarded to the Colonial Beach Police Department.
During public comment School Board Member Mike Looney spoke as a private citizen. He brought to the council’s attention that when the auditor recently presented their financial report they mentioned that over the years ending with fiscal year 2007-2008, the school system had incurred a liability to the town of $658,439.
“I want to point out that thanks to everyone in the school system this past fiscal year, 2008-2009 the school system actually achieved a surplus of $165,131,” Looney said. “So it broke the pattern of incurring debt every year and increasing its liability to the town.”
By achieving that surplus the school division reduced its liability to the town from $658,439 to $493,308; this is a reduction in one year of 25 percent of the entire obligation of the school system to the town, according to Looney.

 

Linda Farneth
Staff reporter

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