Thu04242014

Last updateTue, 04 Nov 2014 9pm

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Brabo urges Board to advertise potential 4-cent real estate tax increase

Budget public hearing on April 17

The King George Board of Supervisors voted last week on April 3 to advertise a real estate tax increase of up to 4-cents per $100 valuation on a split vote, 3-2. Supervisors Joe Grzeika and Dale Sisson voted against the possibility of an increase that high.

A hearing on the proposed 4-cent tax increase, or comments on any tax increase, will be heard on Tuesday, April 17, along with comments on the proposed 2012-13 budget. (See related article elsewhere in this issue.)

County administrator Travis Quesenberry proposed a budget that, if adopted, would need a maximum tax increase of 3-cents.

Grzeika said he could not support any tax increase. “I still have a problem with continuing to fund the stimulus dollars. I just don’t think that’s our responsibility. And I’d like to see that removed. That’s why I can’t support the rate increase.”

Grzeika has previously elaborated on that issue, along with Sisson. The federal stimulus money was short-term money that was supposed to be spent on non-recurring expenditures by the School Board. Now the School Board wants the county to make up the difference with local money, with over $817,000 of the School Board’s requested increase was earmarked for long-time positions for nurses and guidance counselor salaries that

were in the division’s base budget prior to the stimulus funding coming along.

Sisson went ahead with a motion to advertise the proposed budget as presented and the potential for up to a 3-cent increase on the tax rate. John LoBuglio provided a second to the motion.

But Dahlgren Supervisor Ruby Brabo urged board members to instead advertise a possible 4-cent tax increase.

“Please don’t shoot me,” Brabo said, after Sisson’s motion was on the floor. She added, “Why would you not consider advertising 4-cents?”

She cited her desire to add additional positions to the budget for staffing at Smoot Library and to increase two positions for Animal Control to full-time.

“I’m just suggesting, because again, you can advertise a 4-cent tax increase and not do it.  I’m just suggesting,” Brabo insisted.

Cedell Brooks and LoBuglio had other reasons for increasing taxes, and Sisson’s motion failed with only his single ‘aye’ vote.  

Brabo made her motion to advertise the proposed budget and 4-cent tax rate increase on real estate tax rate, which was approved 3-2.

LoBuglio said, “It doesn’t mean we’re going to vote for a 4-cent increase. It’s just there for consideration.” He also said, “And the 4-cents, even though I seconded the motion, the reason is not to paint us into a corner that we can’t get out of.”

Grzeika responded, “That only assumes if you pass it and have the money. So I guess that’s what you’re planning on doing, otherwise it’s an exercise.”

Brooks stated, “It gives us the leeway, if we need to.” But Grzeika said, “There’s no leeway if you don’t pass it.” He added, “But if we don’t put it in there, we can’t put it in there later.”

LoBuglio said, “If the Governor doesn’t sign the measure and says you have to apply the full five-percent in the first year, we’re into a corner. And that’s why. Things aren’t completely clear for what we have to pay, yet.”

LoBuglio was talking about the state’s current indecision over how much it will demand localities to pay in the upcoming year for the Virginia Retirement System (VRS) for county and school employees. A vote is scheduled on April 17 for the General Assembly to decide which scheme to adopt. The state is considering whether to phase in huge VRS payments over five years and/or require localities to grant big raises to county employees that would then be deducted from their paychecks to go to VRS.

The proposed budget includes the full amount for VRS for the county and a phased-in amount for the School Board.

But the fact is that one cent on the real estate tax is currently estimated to bring in $256,000. That additional penny is not enough to make up the VRS payments for the full five percent for the School Board, if that’s the way the state goes, with the School Board’s full portion at over $1,000,000.

REAL ESTATE TAX RATE
The current real estate/mobile home tax rate is 50-cents per $100 valuation. Brabo, Brooks and LoBuglio agreed to authorize the proposal that would allow that majority to raise the real estate tax to 54-cents per $100 valuation. Sisson and Grzeika voted against the motion.

Public comment will be taken on the proposed 2012-13 budget and a potential tax increase on Tuesday, April 17.

Supervisors already have a budget work session set the following evening on April 18, along with a joint meeting with the School Board and also a Service Authority meeting set, all three for budget discussion.

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