Jeff Branscome writes about Spotsylvania County.
Bonds and the Tax Rate
Supervisors will discuss this tonight but here is a little information about how much of the current 62-cent tax rate is related to the 2001, 2005 and 2006 bond referendums and how those voter-approved deals affect the tax rate.
Currently, 12 cents of the 62-cent rate is connected to debt service. Those three voter-approved referendums authorized $372 million in general obligation bonds. Just think, if voters never approved the referendums, Spotsylvania Count could have a 48-cent tax rate.
To date, $127.8 million has been sold. The existing debt service makes about 9 cents on the tax rate.
This spring, another $42 million is planned for sale for fire/rescue, transportation, public safety/general government, and school projects. This bond is another 3 cents of the tax rate.
Now, supervisors have differing philosophies on the voter-approved bonds, depending on whom you ask.
Some supervisors think that because voters approved these referendums, it means the county board has their approval to move ahead on the projects listed on those referendums, without delay. The referendums clearly stated that approving these projects could require a tax increase, some supervisors will argue.
Then there are other supervisors, such as Jerry Logan, who will argue that voters approved those referendums with the mindset that supervisors would be "fiscally responsible" and sell the bonds if they could afford the debt service. In light of the current economic situation, it’s not a good time to be selling bonds and putting the county taxpayers further into debt, Logan argues.
So, what’s your opinion? Do you move quickly on these projects and raise taxes? Or, do you wait until the revenue picture improves?