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Council: What do you want to give up?
The City Council won’t vote on whether to raise the personal property tax rate until after their Nov. 13 retreat, but several council members tonight urged people who say the city should just "cut its budget" to avoid raising the tax to consider what’s really in the city budget.
"I, like most people feel that frankly taxes are too high in this country today," Councilman Matt Kelly said. "However at the local level of government, we are service oriented."
Kelly also said that the city had been more proactive in preparing for the economic downturn than Stafford or Spotsylvania counties.
"We started making changes to our budget sooner than they did, so instead of going to layoffs, we have been able to leave a lot of positions open and have lost a lot of positions … due to attrition," he said.
Kelly and several other council members also emphasized that the proposed car tax hike is not a way to bring new revenue to the city, but an attempt to make up for the $866,000 the city would lose if it kept the tax as-is because of declining car values.
"I think this is an inevitable move," Councilwoman Mary Katherine Greenlaw said.
Each year, when council members start looking at their budget, the things they can find to cut without eliminating major services like police and fire protection usually amount to tens of thousands of dollars apiece. Finding $866,000 to cut would require major changes in the level of services the city provides.
"We’re talking $866,000 this would generate," Councilman Brad Ellis said. "Find that in the budget."
Still, Vice Mayor Kerry Devine said the city should start talking about what services should be on the table when it comes time to cut. She proposed that the council start that discussion at its Nov. 13 retreat, before voting on the tax increase.