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Spotsy likely to raise rate for personal property tax

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A 43-cent increase to Spotsylvania County’s personal property tax rate is a strong possibility.

The Board of Supervisors on Thursday expressed support for upping the rate from $6.37 to $6.80 per $100 of assessed value, which would add about $2.75 million in revenue for the fiscal year that begins July 1.

The extra money would allow the county to fully fund the school system’s proposed budget, cut business taxes, hire five new Sheriff’s Office employees and buy 12 new police cars.

But nothing is official until next Tuesday, when supervisors are scheduled to approve tax rates and the county budget.

Supervisors Chairman David Ross, who also chairs the local GOP, stressed that the average car owner would pay $23 less in taxes under the proposed $6.80 rate thanks to a decline in the taxable value of vehicles. Other supervisors, the majority of whom are politically conservative, agreed that the proposed rate actually amounts to a tax decrease.

The increase in revenue from the tax is attributed to more vehicles in the county and residents who buy new cars.

Sixty-seven percent of taxpayers would pay less taxes under the higher personal property rate, so long as they don’t buy new cars. The remainder would have tax increases of no more than $75, according to county finance staff.

 The average taxable value of a car in Spotsylvania this year is $6,085, a decrease of $771 from last year. Spotsylvania taxes just 50 percent of a car’s appraised value.

The owner of a vehicle worth the average amount would pay about $413 under the proposed rate.

Still, Supervisor Paul Trampe, who earlier in the week had proposed a 12-cent increase to the personal property tax rate, said, “We’re going above where I wanted to go on personal property.” “I don’t want to keep going up and up on personal property forever,” said Trampe, who opposed some of the added spending for the Sheriff’s Office.

Meanwhile, Supervisor Greg Cebula was in the minority when he suggested that the school system receive an extra $1 million, or almost $600,000 less than the School Board requested. “We also need to look at the citizens, and the citizens are going to be paying a little bit more by increasing this,” he said.

Supervisors also expressed support for an equalized real estate tax rate of 86 cents per $100 of assessed value, which is 2 cents less than the current rate. Still, the average homeowner would pay $41 more under that rate because residential property values increased in this year’s reassessment.

In addition, board members indicated their support for reducing Business, Professional and Occupational License taxes on professional and business services; eliminating the property tax on airplanes; and transferring 25 percent of revenue from the machinery and tools tax to an economic development fund. The lost revenue from those measures would be offset by the proposed personal property tax rate increase.

In other business, supervisors directed county staff to prepare a voter-approved bond referendum that would help fund significant improvements to the Interstate 95 exit at Massaponax. The 2005 bond referendum, which enables the county to borrow money for transportation projects, expires in fall 2015.

The proposed referendum could be on this November’s ballot.

Jeff Branscome: 540/374-5402