King George OKs tax increase
As many people spoke about a rezoning that wasn’t even on the agenda as spoke about King George County’s proposed budget at a public hearing on Tuesday.
The topic of the county’s $68.2 million budget attracted a crowd of fewer than 30 people.
Three of them spoke—for the third meeting in a row—against a request to rezone a 7-acre parcel in Dahlgren from agricultural to commercial. All are residents of Bayberry Estates, a subdivision next to the proposed rezoning, and the homeowners continued their campaign against it.
“Why does the board continue to waste time and attention on this issue when it’s crystal-clear this should be denied?” asked Feron Kendle.
The supervisors will consider the rezoning on May 6.
As for the budget, the board heard a few speakers, then approved a tax rate that’s 6 cents higher than the current one. Half of the increase is to equalize rates after reassessment, when property values decreased by 4 percent, and the other half is a true increase.
The rate for fiscal year 2014–15 will be 59 cents per $100 of assessed value. County Administrator Travis Quesenberry cited the example of the bill of a friend of his, whose home was valued at $247,655 in 2013. That person’s bill will increase $78 under new rates.
Personal property taxes are going up, too, from $3.20 to $3.25 per $100 of assessed value.
Most of the tax increase is due to new positions in emergency services and the Sheriff’s Office, said Chairman Joe Grzeika. Six fire and rescue workers at Fairview Beach and two deputies who provide courthouse security started July 1, halfway into the current budget year, and their positions were made full time.
The board funded two new deputies and two 911 dispatchers. A few other positions were converted from part time to full time, and all county employees got a 1 percent raise, starting Jan. 1, 2015.
Of the three people who spoke about the budget, one provided written comments, which weren’t read aloud, and two—Renee Parker and Warren Veazey—brought up what Parker described as the board’s “ill-placed priorities.”
She said a budget of almost half a million dollars for the Smoot Memorial Library seemed excessive, especially since the library just recently added Sunday hours. The library doubled in size recently, after a $6 million expansion, and Parker wondered if the operational costs had been considered when the project was approved.
Likewise, she wondered if it was necessary for each employee to have a cellphone paid for by the county.
Veazey asked the county to consider raising the fee paid by Waste Management for trash dumped at the King George Landfill. The county has gotten $5 per ton since 1996, and Veazey said it’s time to negotiate an increase.
He also asked the county to designate where each penny of a tax increase goes.
County Administrator Quesenberry pointed out that the state still hasn’t passed its budget. State funding accounts for $27.5 million, or 40 percent of the King George budget, Quesenberry said. As a result, the county can’t allot its funds until the state budget is passed.
Cathy Dyson: 540/374-5425
King George County plans its countywide town hall meeting on fracking at 7 p.m. June 12 at King George High School. The Board of Supervisors plans to invite representatives from several agencies to make presentations, including the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy, the Department of Environmental Quality, Shore Exploration and Production Corp. and the Southern Environmental Law Center.
Supervisors Chairman Joe Grzeika said state agencies will regulate the permitting and drilling process, and that it’s up to counties to stipulate whatever restrictions they deem proper in their special exception process.