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Few fireworks over Orange tax rate increase

If Orange County officials were expecting to hear major resistance to their proposed tax increase, they were in for a surprise.

Few speakers appeared at Tuesday’s public hearing on the proposed fiscal 2015 tax rate, budget and capital improvements plan, and those who did were nearly evenly split between favoring and opposing the proposal to increase the real estate tax rate by 8.4 cents to 80.4 cents per $100 of assessed value.

The proposed budget fared even better, with all speakers supporting it.

Five residents presented themselves to comment on the tax rate. Two commended the rate increase planned.

Carol Hunter, ESL and gifted coordinator for Orange County schools, supported the rate, saying, “Doing the right thing takes courage. It isn’t always the easy way.”

Hunter admitted that, as an educator, she has no real desire to pay more in taxes, and noted that she and her husband know what it is like to work with a limited budget.

“However,” she said, “building a strong infrastructure is the key to the survival of a community.”

Doris Du Lac of Barboursville felt that the tax increase was too high. She cited “a lack of services, especially in District 1.”

“For an elderly person on a limited income,” she said, “an 11 percent tax increase is most excessive.”

Another speaker questioned why there was no alcohol or cigarette tax in Orange County, and suggested other possibilities, such as increasing fees for dog licenses, for raising revenue, “besides getting it off the backs of the landowners.”

Teri Pace, a former supervisor from Unionville, said she was “very shocked at such proposed waste of hard-earned taxpayer dollars.” She offered no specific examples.

Only three residents commented on the proposed county budget, all of them in favor of it. No speakers commented on the capital improvements plan.

Following the public hearings, the supervisors voted unanimously to cancel their planned budget work session Thursday. They are scheduled to vote on the tax rate and budget April 8.

Dan McFarland:

dmcfarland@freelancestar.com

 

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