Tue09022014

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Real estate tax increase defeated

Colonial Beach Town Council held a special meeting on June 27 to vote on advertised tax increases and the town’s budget for fiscal year 2013-14.

In the advertisement, the council proposed raising real estate taxes from $0.58 to $0.63 per $100 of value. But after almost four hours of deliberation, the council decided against the increased rate.

However, the proposed one-percent tax increase on both meals and lodging was approved, along with an increased tax from $0.25 to $0.30 per pack cigarette tax.

It appeared that the council might not reach a decision that evening when it reached a stalemate during the negotiations. Council members Wanda Goforth, Linda Brubaker and Jim Chiarello remained steadfast that they would not raise real estate taxes.

Mayor Mike Ham, Vice Mayor Tommy Edwards, and Councilmen Gary Seeber and Tim Curtin all supported a real estate tax increase of one-or-two-percent to help fund raises for town employees.

The three members who opposed the real estate tax increase also did not support a raise for town employees (some, more adamantly than others). The council needed a majority vote of five members in order to raise the taxes.

Councilman Seeber tried to negotiate with the three members stating that he would vote for the meals, lodging and cigarette taxes, if they agreed to the incrased real estate tax.

After several hours, Seeber proposed that the council reduce the funding promised to the school by $50,000 and to increase the funding to the general fund (town government) by $50,000. This would enable the town to give raises to all town employees, and the budget change would only require four votes.

The council voted six-to-one to raise the meals, lodging and cigarette taxes. Mayor Ham voted against. Ham later said that he was not in favor of raising the meals and lodging taxes.

Feeling defeated, Goforth and Chiarello voted with the rest of the council to amend the budget to allow for raises. Brubaker stood her ground, voting against.

Despite their reluctance to give town employees their raises, the three kept their promises to vote against the increased real estate taxes, scoring a victory.

The town’s final budget was set at $4,421,448 for government operations and the schools’ portion is $2,103,198 for a total budget of $6,524,646.

Utility Funds/Public Works are set at $2,765,616 and Capital Funds (used for construction) is set at $3,876,000.

The schools’ total budget including money from Colonial Beach, Westmoreland County and the Commonwealth of Virginia is $7,700,107. 

Linda Farneth

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