Spotsylvania News

Jeff Branscome writes about Spotsylvania County.

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Spotsy Not Alone In Tax Pinch

The Wall Street Journal had a story today by Conor Dougherty about how municipalities across the nation are raising the property tax rate to fill funding gaps, which is pinching homeowners.


What I found interesting was that of all the percentage increases the writer mentioned, Spotsylvania County’s 10 percent increase (62 cents, 6 cents above the equalized tax rate) was the second-highest (Memphis has a proposal for a 17 percent increase).

Spotsylvania was not mentioned in the article, but I add it for comparison.

“Everyone is feeling this pinch and we are not immune,” Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton told the city council.

Portland, Maine, is laying off workers and still increasing the rate. Arlington raised its rate 4 percent in part to cover retiree health benefits.

The article had another interesting tidbit: “In the long run, falling home prices could give homeowners a property-tax break by reducing the assessed value of their homes. However, appraisals often lag behind market conditions.”

There is one way to avoid this lag, you would think: Do assessments every year.

Loudoun County does annual assessments.

“While the county’s more than $68 billion assessment portfolio stayed flat overall compared with 2007, residential properties averaged a decline of 10 percent and commercial properties saw an average assessment increase of approximately 9 percent,” according to a story in Leesburg Today.


Of course, Stafford County assessments dropped, which drove people in Spotsy crazy.

Finally, the writer mentions that there really is no win-win situation: “Both raising taxes and slashing costs can accelerate the economic cycle’s downward turn. Municipal spending accounts for one-eighth of the nation’s gross domestic product and the U.S.’s eight million municipal workers account for 6 percent of the nation’s employment force.”

So, Spotsy, you weren’t alone this year.


  • lgross

    The amount of actual money involved – per month – is not a major deal to those making good NoVa Salaries or they’re retired to a place like Fawn Lake.

    Folks with kids in school also know that they get more for their kids from a tax increase on everyone than if they had to pay for “extras”.

    But someone who lives on a fixed salary and/or folks who both live and work locally at much more modest salaries can be stressed…if virtually every year their monthly taxes go up.

    Ten bucks a month in one year does not sound like much until you multiply by 5 years and then it can affect those that have to count their pennies more than others.

    The problem with the budget process is that from one year to the next – we don’t know – if the increases are to IMPROVE and/or expand …continued

  • lgross

    …services… keep them level .. or keep them from deteriorating…

    all we hear is that they are “needs based” and so citizens really don’t know the trade-offs.

    In lean years.. I suspect many citizens, if they knew, would agree to just maintaining levels-of-services or even in cases like this year.. having them lowered slightly.

    For instance, if the Sheriff would say that a budget would result in no improvement in response times.. then folks could weigh that.

    If he said..that response times would get MUCH worse.. folks could WEIGHT that…

    We had discussions about replacement cars – that a certain number should be replaced… whether they are experiencing increased repairs or not…

    Why not buy two or three “spares” .. keep them in reserve.. and then only replace cars when they need to… etc..

  • UncleAlbert

    The Democrats, bureaucrats, and other socialist-minded folks who seem to dominate Spotsylvania’s political officialdom know only one thing—they “need” more of your money because you “need” more of their brand of big local government. Given this philosophy, your “needs” will never be satisfied. In their world, the phrase adequate government services is a misnomer. Every year your new or improved “needs” are declared in the most desperate of terms. The local government budget process then becomes a frenzied competition to manipulate public perception by exaggerating your “needs” to ensure more taxes and government spending. The school superintendent is the dominant player in this competition but there are others almost as astute.

  • UncleAlbert


    Ultimately there will be a taxpayer revolt because local government spending cannot grow faster than the income of its constituents. Taxpayers in Spotsylvania may need to reconsider the tax-and-spend philosophy of 4 current members of the board of supervisors.

  • lgross

    Well… the pro-development folks in the General Assembly managed to make a run at doing away with proffers and at the same time quashed a bill that would have allowed (not require) BOS to LOWER property taxes if citizens voted for it.

    In other words, they voted to NOT allow citizens to vote for lowering property taxes.

    Now.. what I’d like to hear is opinions from our own BOS as to whether they would support letting citizens do that or not.

  • siewillow

    I totally agree with your comment about the budget process and the exaggerating of “needs”.
    I’m am LoL about your comment about the BOS opinions about tax payers voting.. they’re the same ones who wanted to limit the number of times taxing citizens could talk about a particular subject at BOS meetings.