Tue09302014

Last updateThu, 19 Nov 2015 8pm

   20140901MetroCastweb

Equalized real estate tax rate will be increased by three cents

KING GEORGE NARROWING ESTIMATED BUDGET GAP

The King George Board of Supervisors will continue its budgeting this week on Wednesday, March 19, with an additional work session scheduled next week on Thursday, March 27.

One thing is clear; the county’s real estate tax rate will go up beginning with the tax bills due in June 2014, when the first half-year payment is due.

If it only goes up to 56 cents per $100 valuation from the current 53 cents, it will not be a tax increase.

That’s because 56 cents is the ‘equalized’ tax rate calculated to reflect the new real estate assessments that went into effect on Jan. 1. The 56 cents is revenue-neutral for the county, meaning that rate would bring in the same amount of real estate tax revenue as the 53-cent rate did last year on the higher real estate values.

EQUALIZED TAX RATE
King George is on a four-year reassessment schedule. The real estate assessment performed last year by Blue Ridge Mass Appraisal indicated the total value of all taxable parcels is 4.1 percent lower than the previous assessment that went into effect four years ago, in 2010.

That 4.1 percent drop in real estate values in King George is an average, with some property owners receiving higher assessments and some receiving lower, even much lower valuations on their property.

An ‘equalized’ tax rate figure was calculated at 56 cents as a new real estate tax rate that would provide the ability for the county to collect the same amount of taxes as last year, but based on the new, lower real estate assessments.  

Blue Ridge reported the total value of all taxable parcels in the county dropped by $1.15 million.

That calculated to an equalized tax rate of 3 cents higher than the current rate of 53 cents per $100 valuation for real estate property taxes.

The equalized tax rate amount is dependent on the result of the calculation of what each penny on the tax rate would generate in tax revenue to the county. In recent years, the calculation of what a penny on the tax rate would produce has fluctuated around $260,000 of county revenue per penny.

BUDGETING
Travis Quesenberry, county administrator, distributed figures on March 11, based on a round of cuts he made from the departmental requests provided over the previous budget sessions. That working draft reduced the gap between estimated revenues and estimated expenditures from the previous $3,700,000 down to $973,504.

The proposed expenditures had been thoroughly scrubbed. Quesenberry told Supervisors it was not a proposed budget. Instead, it provided some preliminary figures for proposed revenues and proposed expenditures, which would continue to be refined.

HIGHLIGHTS/ASSUMPTIONS
Quesenberry pointed out numerous proposed cuts to the requests that had come from county department heads, agencies and constitutional officers. He also explained and provided a list of highlights of how he had decreased the budget gap.

THE CURRENT BUDGET GAP IS PREDICATED ON THE FOLLOWING ASSUMPTIONS/PROPOSALS.
~SCHOOL BOARD The School Board budget is to be based on an adjusted average daily membership (ADM) of 4,160 students, up from 4,130 used by Superintendent Rob Benson. That is expected to provide about $134,000 more from state revenue over the expected increase in state revenue of $1.6 million already anticipated over the amount in current year’s budget.  

That higher ADM figure seems reasonable, since Benson had told Supervisors the division is projecting to end the current fiscal year with about 4,180 students.

Along with that, Quesenberry also is proposing level county funding for the division in the amount of $14,349,353, which is considerably more than the required local funding amount of $10,100,807. The level-funding figure would be offset by a large increase in state funding, currently estimated at $1.76 million more than the current fiscal year.

Ruby Brabo noted that the School Board’s proposal includes a 1-percent pay raise, along with step increases, which average to 2 percent more. She urged further reducing the amount proposed for the School Board budget by an additional $500,000, which is roughly equivalent to the cost of the School Board’s proposed step increases.

~ NEW POSITIONS     Funding included for two positions in E-911 Dispatch; also conversion of two part-time positions to full-time in General Properties; also a new part-time position for a paralegal in the county attorney’s office.

~ 1-PERCENT SALARY INCREASE FOR VRS      1-percent salary increases are proposed for the third year of the increase in Virginia Retirement System costs to employees. Any additional raises for employees are estimated to cost about $90,000 for each 1- percent increase.

~ SHERIFF’S EQUIPMENT     $100,000 in equipment and vehicle costs in the Sheriff’s operating budget would be transferred from the General Fund to the Capital Improvement Fund.

~ OUTSIDE AGENCIES     Contributions to outside agencies held to current year levels, except for increases for the Department of Forestry, George Washington Regional Commission, and Rappahannock Area Court Appointed Special Advocate. Capital costs for Germanna and Rappahannock Community Colleges shifted to Capital Improvement Fund.

~ STABILIZATION FUND     $250,000 transfer to the Stabilization Fund deleted from budget, but intended to be reinstated from any unexpended balance from the 2013-14 budget following the audit.

~ HEALTH INSURANCE    The county employees would pay their share of the 6.3-percent increase in health insurance costs.

~ UNKNOWNS      Quesenberry said he thought there were some areas of the budget that could be trimmed more. He also said the amount from the state for categorical-shared expenses is still up in the air, including those for constitutional offices.

If some of the cuts or positions requested are to be added into the budget, other cuts would have to be made, or increases in revenue would need to come from tax increases.

Supervisors were told that each penny on the real estate tax provides about $249,000 in revenue. Quesenberry also said each penny increase on the personal property tax for vehicles would raise about $18,000 in additional revenue.

Budgeting continues this week on Wednesday, March 19, with an additional work session scheduled next week on Thursday, March 27.

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