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Spotsy approves tax rate increase

MORE: Read more Spotsylvania County news

The Spotsylvania County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday unanimously approved a 41-cent rate increase to the personal property tax on cars and other vehicles.

The new rate of $6.78 per $100 of assessed value, which will generate about $2.6 million in additional revenue this year, allows the county to fully fund the School Board’s spending plan, increase staffing at the Sheriff’s Office and eliminate a local tax on airplanes.

Supervisors also unanimously approved an equalized real estate tax rate of 86 cents per $100 of assessed value, which is 2 cents less than last year’s rate. Still, the average homeowner will pay $41 more this year because the taxable value of residential property increased in the 2014 reassessment.

And supervisors voted 7–0 in favor of a $450.9 million spending plan for the fiscal year that begins July 1. The budget includes a 2 percent cost-of-living raise for all county employees, pay stipends for fire and rescue personnel who provide advanced life support and six new court deputies to support additional judges.

In addition, the county plans to hire nine more firefighters thanks to a federal grant that will cover the salaries and benefits of those positions for two years. Including those jobs, the county has added 41 firefighters/medics to the payroll since 2012.

The spending plan also earmarks about $116.4 million in local taxpayer dollars to Spotsylvania County Public Schools, or almost $1.6 million more than the school system received last year. About 25 cents of the personal property tax hike will go toward that funding increase.

School Board Chairman Jim Meyer said he was pleased with the budget. Without the additional money, the School Board said it would have had to cut unspecified programs or positions.

“Our baseline is going up, and that helps us in the outer years as well us in this next year,” Meyer said. Teachers and all other schools employees will receive their first step increase on the salary scale since 2007.

Despite the 41-cent increase to the personal property tax rate, residents who don’t buy new cars will pay an average of $24 less than last year. That’s because the taxable value of vehicles declined.

Supervisors, the majority of whom are politically conservative, have stressed that the rate hike won’t amount to higher tax bills for many residents.

In fact, 69 percent of residents will pay less personal property tax, so long as they don’t buy new cars, according to county finance staff. The rest will pay up to $75 more.

“If your rate does go up, please give me a call or give your supervisor a call,” supervisors Chairman David Ross said at the meeting Tuesday.

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.

Some supervisors had hoped to reduce the Business, Professional and License tax, referred to as the BPOL tax, on professional and business services.

But the board ultimately killed that proposal by a vote of 4–3 because it would have required a further increase to the personal property rate to offset the lost BPOL revenue. Supervisors Greg Cebula, Timothy McLaughlin and Chris Yakabouski supported the business tax cuts.

Supervisor Paul Trampe said he initially backed those BPOL reductions, “but that was before the personal property rate kept climbing.” “So at this point I would prefer to wait until next year to do some of these things,” he said.

Supervisor Ann Heidig agreed. “While I would like to see us eliminate the BPOL rate entirely, perhaps waiting a year rather than putting an additional burden on our taxpayers would be a good thing to do,” she said.

Supervisors did vote to eliminate the personal property tax on airplanes. Ross said getting rid of that tax would make Spotsylvania more competitive with Stafford County, which eliminated its airplane tax four years ago.

“It should bring more airplanes into our facility, and that means more gas being bought here and more hangar revenues here and more revenues for the county,” said Ross, who says he hopes that additional revenue will enable the county to decrease the personal property tax rate in the future.

Jeff Branscome: 540/374-5402

jbranscome@freelancestar.com

SPOTSYLVANIA BUDGET

The Spotsylvania County Board of Supervisors approved a 41-cent increase to the personal property tax rate. Each penny generates approxi mately $64,000 annually. Here’s a breakdown of how the county will spend the additional $2.6 million in revenue from the rate hike.

$1.585 million for Spotsyl vania County Public Schools. The school system needed that amount—which represents an increase over the current fiscal year—to balance its proposed budget. Without the additional money, the School Board has said it would’ve had to cut unspecified programs or positions.

  • $351,000 for 12 new vehicles for the Sheriff’s Of fice.
  • $111,000 for two addition al E–911 officers, who tell emergency personnel where to go in response to calls from the public.
  • $96,000 for two addition al E–911 operators, who are the first to receive calls from the public.
  • $90,000 for an additional detective.
  • $52,100 to put animal control officers’ pay in line with that of sheriff’s deputies. The county’s eight animal control officers became sworn deputies last year.
  • $24,000 to convert a part- time grants technician to full time.
  • $190,000 to offset gener al fund revenue that will be lost as a result of a decision to transfer 25 percent of the machinery and tools tax to an economic development fund. The general fund pays for core government services like public safety and schools.
  • $90,000 to offset the general fund revenue that will be lost from eliminating the personal property tax on air planes.

 

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