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Caroline approves tax increase

The Caroline County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday night unanimously approved the budget for next year that includes an 11-cent real estate tax increase. The total budget is $85.3 million. Of that, $44.9 million is for the general fund, an increase of about 7 percent over the current general fund.

The tax increase goes toward paying the debt service for two major projects:

3 cents for a $6.5 million

new public radio communications system and 8 cents for $25 million in renovations to Caroline High School and Madison Elementary School.

The current tax rate is 72 cents per $100 of assessed value and it would rise to 83 cents under Caroline County Administrator Charles M. Culley Jr.’s proposed budget. A chart made by Culley shows that for the median single-family residence and land value in Caroline County, which is $143,500, the median tax bill would be $1,191.05 per year. That’s an increase of $157.85 per year. That median value has stayed the same since the last reassessment in 2011.

Over the past 10 years,

the lowest real estate tax rates were in 2006 and 2007, when the rate was 48 cents each year. The median single family residence and land value in those two years

was $214,500 and the median real estate tax bill was $1,029.60.

Chairman Floyd Thomas of Mattaponi district was absent due to a death in his family. The remaining five supervisors said they knew the rate hike was necessary.

“We have mandated expenses that we’ve got to take care of,” said Western Caroline Supervisor Jeff Black. “It would be unfair to keep the taxes really low, have this referendum in place and kick the can down the road.”

He emphasized that for him, schools are a priority in the budget, and that this budget reflects that because the school system is the only department that got an increase. He encouraged the board to continue to have a dialogue with school officials on how to improve the school system.

“It’s a difficult situation to be in,” said Port Royal district’s Calvin Taylor. “I regret having to put the citizens of this county in that, but it can’t be helped.”

Reedy Church representative Reggie Underwood said the two projects that caused the tax increase were necessary. “It is a very very tough situation but this tax increase is almost mandated by the citizens of this county.”

Madison district’s Wayne Acors pointed out that the county “has come a long way,” but also said that he could not remember a larger tax increase in the 27 years he has been on the board.

Bowling Green Supervisor Jeff Sili, who chaired the meeting, said the board had no choice. “With what the citizens committed to I don’t see that we have a choice. We actually agreed to do those things,” he said, referring to the school improvements and the radio system.

The new tax rates take effect on July 1. There is no proposed change to the personal property tax rate.

The budget includes $12 million allocated for Caroline County Public Schools. That’s a slight increase over the current year’s allocation.

Robyn Sidersky: 540/374-5413

rsidersky@freelancestar.com

 

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