Fredericksburg City Beat

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Pamela Gould reports on City Hall. You can reach her at 540-735-1972 or Robyn Sidersky reports on city schools. You can reach her at 540-374-5413 or

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Budget: two perspectives

For the past three years at least, Fredericksburg budget public hearings have mainly been attended by nonprofit executive directors, either asking the City Council members for more money or thanking them for the money they’ve been granted.

Even in years when the city has proposed raising taxes, these hearings do not typically include lots of homeowners, schools advocates or employee advocacy groups. In other places where I have covered budgets, these constituencies are a constant presence at budget public hearings.

I would expect that this year’s hearing would be a little more boisterous, since the cuts proposed to the schools funding, nonprofit funding and employee pay are much more drastic than in any year in the past, and the real estate tax rate could go up as much as 5 cents.

But if that doesn’t happen, I did find interesting that the only two comments at the bottom of today’s story express two very different perspectives on the budget.

FredTalk user "poohsmrs" has this to say about the proposed employee pay cut:

As an employee of over 25 years, I was disheartened to hear that the City was cutting City employees’ salaries. We have been asked to do more with less (supplies and staff) for the last year. It is tough to keep morale up when your pay and holidays are taken away. Oh, but thanks for the $10,000 one day picnic … I’d rather have my pay back. I was planning not to retire and help my agency weather this storm, but not when you take away my pay and affect my retirement benefits. Sorry, boss gotta go ….

User "larryg," I am pretty sure, is not a city homeowner, but argues that perspective:

for most folks with mortgages, tax increases translate directly into higher monthly payments. Not sure where the $120 example came from but for those elected contemplating tax increases – perhaps a better way of judging impact would be to look at the impact of increases on the price of "affordable" homes because – in effect, what they’re also voting on – is affect the ability of new buyers to afford their first home.

And for the record, the $120 example is based on the fact that if you own a $400,000 home and the tax rate goes up three cents, as proposed, you will pay $120 more a year. 


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  • lgross

    but a retired guy who always had an interest in local gov anyhow.

    Not only do more folks come out to tax increase hearings in Spotsy – but some years we see folks
    advocating for HIGHER taxes even – as the county continues to attract former NoVa folks who show up
    - appalled at the lack of services that they are used to.

    I’m sympathetic to the employees getting pay cuts but the alternative is job cuts.

    Perhaps one of the reasons people don’t come out is if a penny on the Fburg tax rate amounts to little
    more than 6 bucks a month on a 400K home.. with a lesser bite for lower valued homes.

    But for anyone with an active mortgage with an escrow account that pays the tax – essentially tax
    increases mean an increase in your mortgage… AND it becomes an annual affair so it gets people’s

  • lgross

    is that the Fredericksburg Area is really two places at once. We are a community of people who live and work locally and a
    community of commuters and there are significant salary disparities that translate directly into a housing affordability issue for many
    who work locally for much lower salaries than the commuters who ironically are themselves in search of more “affordable” homes but
    in the 400K range as opposed to the 150K range.

    So a tax increase on a commuters 400K home is a gnat on a dogs butt but a tax increase on a 150k home could stress say.. the
    ability of a local teacher or auto repair tech.. local employees including local govt employees which is poohsmrs legitimate concern.

    so we have commuters who want more services and higher taxes and locals who lose no matter the outcome.

  • thatguyb

    Reading the tax/budget posts on both the City and Spotsylvania have been interesting. Just a little math here, but the smallest increase in city real estate taxes being discussed is 5.4%. If they pass the advertised rate, that is an 8.9% increase. The tough pill to swallow here is that the city is going on it’s own 6% diet. I commend Mr. Ellis for continuing to look at more places where targeted cuts may lead to fund available for other places, and also for asking about options (500k/1M/etc).