Spotsylvania News

Jeff Branscome writes about Spotsylvania County.

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Advertise a higher tax rate or not?

A majority of supervisors last last thwarted Supervisor Gary Skinner’s attempt to advertise a higher tax rate than what is proposed in the fiscal year 2009 budget.

County Administrator Randy Wheeler proposed a budget that keeps the tax rate at 62 cents. That recommendation is still a 6-cent tax increase, because property values increased about 10.5 percent in this year’s assessment. The tax rate would need to drop to 56 cents for tax bills to remain the same.

This budget doesn’t contain raises for county employees; there are no new initiatives. Wheeler recommended keeping school funding the same as this fiscal year.  

And the revenue picture became more gloomier in just two weeks when budget staff and Wheeler reported last night the $3.4 million in additional reserves he wanted as a cushion in the 2009 budget has dissolved to just half that amount. He said there will not be any carryover funds for the next fiscal year budget.


Hearing this, Skinner said it might be best to advertise a rate of 65 cents, instead of 62 cents. He said if supervisors advertise a rate of 62 cents, and then want to increase the tax rate, they would have to re-advertise and schedule a second public hearing.

Supervisor Hap Connors agreed with Skinner and said they wouldn’t be approving a 65-cent tax rate, just advertising it. He said the economic downturn hasn’t hit bottom.  

The other five supervisors were not swayed.

“No way I could even think about telling anybody we want a 65 cent tax rate,” said Supervisor T.C. Waddy. “Not everybody is rich in this county. It is a shame for us to sit up here and put a burden on the people. They just got an increase in their assessments, and now you want to increase their tax rate? It’s not right.”

Supervisor Gary Jackson said he’s not happy with the proposed budget. He indicated that Wheeler may have to reduce the size of the county government because he has no intentions of voting for a 62-cent tax rate. He wants it to be lower than that, he said.

Skinner and Connors then voted with the majority to advertise a rate of 62 cents.


  • lgross

    I enjoyed watching Mr. Skinner being in the role of BOS after having “graduated” from the “Our budget is ALWAYS a needs budget” School Board buds.

    So, he performed – as expected. A six cent increase on top of increased assessments to county residents like Teachers, Deputies, fixed-income …some of them struggling to stayh in their homes and not lose them to foreclosure was not enough of an increase for Mr. Skinner.

    I shudder to think what Mr. Skinner would want in “good” times! :-)

  • gramps

    prove to be a very pesky fellow on budget matters. He is wearing different clothes on the BOS, but he has not changed his stripes. He never saw a budget that had enough spending in it.

  • lgross

    I was struck by Gary Jacksons – statement that he’s going to be looking for cuts to take the tax rate even lower.

    But I am VERY impressed with the financial planning functionality that has been put into place – in part due to Bob Hagan.

    Chairman Jerry Logan .. I noticed.. was asking quite a few questions of the county’s Bond adviser – a good thing.

    As long as they are forced to deal with financial realities, there is some hope that the majority of them will be responsible in their financial decisions.

  • 1958

    we know we got a few good people in county goverment , but as a group i do not belive they care at all about the poor,they want us with out food or heat and they want to move on with there pet progets, they are getting a name for there self , but maybe not a good one, spotsy please start caring even if its just a little you find it makes you feal better about your selfs

  • doc

    I have lived in this area for better than twenty years now and I say this with much emphasis. If people keep moving to my community and continue to demand more services but still want the lower taxes that we used to enjoy. When anyone who makes less than $30,000 a yaer can not afford a town house (let alone a single family home). And anyone who complains about the B.O.S. or the school board should realize that you put those residents in their positions. So stop crying about it I for one am tired of it!

  • dantelvock

    Keep it going folks. Or do I have to write another blog on the budget?

    Are Northern Virginians boosting the cost of living for Spotsylvania? Debate that!

  • lgross

    The problem with a community like Spotsylania is the salary disparities between the folks who live hear but commute to NoVa verses the people who live here and work here – and have most of their lives.

    They cannot afford 400K homes and many live in fairly modest circumstances.

    Those folks never demanded more services because they knew it would become a choice about what to spend their limited discretionary money on..

    When we raise taxes – we affect people in modest circumstances much more than others.

  • gramps

    the problem really is not taxes; it is spending. Our politicians have become all too eager to please everyone and that leads them to shortchange things like transportation funds by using that money on other things. It has happened at the state and federal level and it all comes home to roost at the county level.

  • lgross

    if not mistaken though.. about 70% of the spending is for schools.. right?

    Spotsylvania funds about $3500 per kid from property taxes.

    Now .. look at your own tax bill and tell me if it cover’s one child.

    Not only do we have a huge influx of folks who live here and work in NoVa, but many of them have kids… that need to be educated.

    Don’t get me wrong.. we all need to pony up to pay for education but in the end – the folks who earn big salaries in NoVa are not hurt near as much from increases in taxes.

  • gramps

    Spotsy property tax pays that much per child is to cover shortages in state ed funds. Ed funds, like Transportation funds, are short because the General Assembly has decided to increase spending without biting the tax increase bullet. However, it looks like the Courts have put a crimp in the GA’s plans (See todays FLS front page story). BTW no matter how much the state gives Spotsy for Ed, it is my view that the School Bd and Superintendent would ask for more from the county.

  • scottvan

    You have hit on an interesting point. What is the difference between the folks who make $30,000 a year working in the county and the folks who live in the county, but make $100,000 plus a year by working in NOVA? My guess is that the educational level and skill sets of most high income residents who commute north exceed the lower wage local workers. Of course the higher wage citizens can absorb increasing home values and subsequent tax increases with more ease than the local lower paid worker, but should local government services kept at the bare minimum to accommodate lower wage workers. Do we want to continue to live in a county where the school system produces mediocre results? Look at the SOL results, Spotsylvania is outspent by several VA counties and each of those counties produce students that perform significantly better on the SOL exams. Spotsylvania Schools produce very mediocre results! Do we want to reinforce the lowers educational attainment and skill sets? Do we want to live in a county where access to libraries and culture is very limited? Do we want to live in a county where the local sheriff’s office is grossly under resourced compared to similarly situated counties? Do we want to live in a county where the transportation infrastructure is severely outmatched by demand? I agree that we need government officials that make sound fiscal decisions, however I hate the concept of settling for “what has always been”. What can Spotsylvania County be? What should it be? This county needs both the vision and the financial resources to reach its potential.

  • lgross

    on a cost per student per SOL score basis – there are counties in Virginia that send less per student and get higher SOL scores.

    So, no, more money does not necessarily mean SOLs but I’ll concede the point that good schools are not cheap.

    but just keep in mind also that teachers are one of the groups that need to make enough money to have a decent place to live so when the tax rate goes up – i

  • gramps

    but I do not have a child or grandchild in the Spotsy system. However, I am willing to pay taxes towards paying teachers more, thereby attracting better talent, and providing needed supplies in support of those teachers. HOWEVER, I do not appreciate paying more taxes to build overly fancy school buildings in order that the school board and superintendent can bask in glory. Fancy buildings DO NOT mean better education for the kids.