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Jeff Branscome writes about Spotsylvania County.

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86-cent tax rate

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OK, you can ignore the earlier post, I guess. The supervisors just voted 5-2 for an 86-cent tax rate.  Jerry Logan and TC Waddy voted against.


  • LarryG

    Boy were there some CONFUSIONS! I give Mr. Logan credit for asking for the 83 cent option but he did not seem to like the way they got there, characterizing them as “draconian”.

    Heck… I thought that’s exactly what the tax cut crowd wanted.

    and sure enough a million comes out of the school budget.

    but the dialog over proposed, adopted, amended and actual while interesting and informative was a bit murky in terms of where the extra money comes from and what happens to it.

    County staff indicated that excess revenues rolls forward but then I was not clear what happens to it the following year.

    If we take in more property taxes than anticipated, it would SEEM that that money would help reduce the revenues needed the following year or it could help pay down existing debt, etc.

    is that the “carry over” money? If it is the amount shown on the budget doc seems to be out of whack with the numbers Mr. Logan was using.

  • D.J. McGuire

    I haven’t been able to see Barnes’ 83-cent scenario, It’s not on the county website and since I teach Tuesdays at Germanna now, I couldn’t be there. That said, there is clearly a disconnect.

    Each cent costs $1.182 million in revenue. If the rate were to be reduced before the 2nd half property tax payment, then one needs to add another $591K, so wer’re talking $1.773M per “cent,” or $5.319M to cover a three cent reduction.

    The surplus was over $6.5 million, so there should have been plenty.

    Now, Barnes was insistent on a $1.8M “holdback” being taken out of the surplus. If he continued to insist on that, it would explain the need for whacking fire fighter and social service positions and the school budget.

    If he did that (a large if, BTW) I don’t know why. Given that revenue would fall over $5M, the 10% reserve level would also fall $500K (10% of 5M). Thus, the effective surplus is really $7M, so the tax cut would leave $1.68M that could be used for a holdback. Freeze the social services from hiring and nix the Community Development Director position (I don’t think it’s necessary and we don’t even have an Econ Development Director hired yet!), and the surplus is over $2M. Barnes’ holdback fund is in place and the people can get some tax relief.

    I’ll be curious to see the particulars on what Barnes presented, but “doomsday scenario” seems close to accurate.

  • Steve T.

    Clearly, I am disappointed about the actual tax vote- they had a chance for a win-win for everyone. They blew it.

    I am actually more concerned about what appears to be a real dishonest 83 cent budget put forward by Doug Barnes. By presenting uneccessary draconian cuts to safeguard his government spending, he appears to have compromised his integrity.

    I am also very concerned about the apparent cloak-and-dagger moves to schedule a vote for next week but actually hold it this week. This looks to be a real act of political cowardice by career politicans afraid to face the reactions of their voters.

    Well, we’ll remember in November.

  • Bill Haas

    Even after a good night’s sleep……..color me puzzled, even confused and more than a bit concerned.

    What the heck happened last night?

  • LarryG

    not that much Bill. Basically they did the “do we want 85 cents or 83 cents dance”.

    Mr. Logan did not care for the cuts the county admin suggested to get to 83 cents but in all fairness Mr. Logan did not have an alternate proposal (which I assume tax hawks like Steve and D.J. would have been more than happy to suggest).

    Mr. Logan can STILL request cuts in the budget by the way as long as he can convince enough of the others.

    Significantly to me was that the vote for the 86 rate vs the 83 rate was 5-2. Mr Jackson, a consistent fiscal conservative voted for the 86 so he does not buy the rationale for the 83 cents.

    I’d still like to better understand why the adopted budget is routinely millions of dollars less than the amended budget – and how the “actual” budget plays into this.

    The budget hawks here – have an opportunity to explain that.

    How about it guys?

    Steve, D.J. would ya’ll explain how the amended budget routinely ends up with millions more in revenue than the adopted and what happens to that extra money?

    And what is the difference between the Actual budget and the Amended budget?

    This is ya’ll chance to educate others on the budget process and win other converts to your way of thinking.

  • Bill Haas

    Thanks Larry.

    Another thing I have noticed. At least on my computer screen; there has been no details (i.e. back up docs, etc.) published on the county web site for either of the BOS meetings held this month.

    It would certainly have been helpful had we had the details regarding the $0.83 budget version the staff made last night. The lack of info has only added to the confusion and criticism.

  • LarryG

    I agree Bill. Steve and DJ also pointed this out and I am in agreement. I’m disappointed in the lack of supporting docs

    .. and hold on to your hat – I’m in agreement with the complaint that the county presented only ONE OPTION for the 83cent rate.

    They pulled the same disengenous practice that the school pull when asked to present a downsize scenario. They pick the stuff they know will cause the most hollering.

    Mr. Logan has principles to ask for the option and he deserved to see a range – a Chinese menu of sorts which would have given a much better idea of what was “draconian” and what might not be.

    HOWEVER, I will CONTINUE to point out that when the average (median?) house generates $1500 in taxes and it costs the county $5000 per kid for education that those numbers do not work.

    The majority of the tax increases over the years are the simple reality that every new home in the county contains 2.8 people and the .8 is a student that costs 5K in taxes.

    So Steve needs to admit this. Population growth in Spotsylvania means people with kids and when the kids cost $5k per and the moms and dads are paying $1500 – someone else has to pay and the only way to do that is to increase taxes.

    And YES – when you increase taxes to pay for schools – it adversely impacts businesses.

    Let’s ALL STRIVE here for the truth – not political coloring books.

  • Steve T.

    Larry, Spotsy has a demographic imbalance whereby we have relatively more 18-30 and 65+ than the other groups. So we have tons of retired taxpayers without kids who still pay into the school system, not to mention businesses who pay exhorbitant taxes but have no children either. That’s truth.

    But what happened last night? Where was the truth in that? The intellectually dishonest 83 cent proposal from Barnes? Holding the vote a week before schedule?

    This is NOT how politics, if it’s honest, if it’s as intended, should be. Bad night to be an idealist.

  • LarryG

    What we have is a HIGH percentage of kids relative to our population – compared to many other counties.

    And the TRUTH is that parents pay about $1500 a year in real estate taxes while each child costs Spotsylvania taxpayers $5000.

    The people who make up the shortfall are those without kids, those who own undeveloped land and businesses.

    How would you change this if you think that this is “unfair” to businessess?

    Thre pressure for tax increases over the years is in lock-step with population growth that have kids.

    So don’t evade the question here guy. The vast majority of tax increases in Spotsylvania are tied to population growth and the demographic that people move here to raise families and each kid costs 3 times as much as his parents pay in taxes.

    that’s truth.

    do you have a different way of paying other than taxes on everyone including businesses?

  • Steve T.

    Larry, the only person evading is you- you totally ignored everything I said. How about not being so dismissive and actually engaging?

  • Martin (Marty) Work

    Round and round we go, but know not where we are going. Why do we leave what is supposed to be open and informative, but scripted, by design, meeting of our elected officials, shaking our heads and wondering what just happened?

    Why is the citizen population of Spotsy left with vague interpretations, single minded alternatives, lots of confusion for want of appropriate details, a half baked screening of the truth, and $7 million dollars in excess tax funds that 86 cents got us last year, that County officials claim will be the same kind of return on taxing dollars next year?

    Why does it appear that the County’s elected officials have a totally separate tax and spending agendas that the public never sees or knows anything about?

    While we chose our corner of the room to fight from, and throw politics at one another, what is it that still needs to be accomplished with our budgeted tax agendas? Anyone out there thought of calling your District Supervisor and shaking a few more trees, just to see what falls out, or continue to play more guessing games at the expense of knowing the truth?

    You have sliced and diced all the numbers provided and still have no answers to your guesses or questions. What’s next?

    Where do we find the money trails, and if found, why are we so reluctant to call out our elected officials and have them explain why 2+2 is coming out with a different number than it’s suposed to be?

    And, what’s with the Spotsylvania County website providing appropriate details and information with which decisions are currently being made, but from behind closed doors. Is this where the DISCONNECT begins between the public and their elected officials?

    What will the UDAs bring to the tax coffers, except a population explosion with little or insufficient commercial interest to cover the needs of a growing community that will continue to COMMUTE for their livelyhood and make I-95 the same parking lot it already is.

    What part of the growth consequences will the “development community” pay for; schools, transportation, infrastructure etc., etc.? Or, will we continue to support the development community with our 3+% of purchases of more County Go-Bonds. How is Spotsylvania County doing with the paybacks on bonds used to underwrite the “development community?

    What kind of dent would $7 million go to reduce the cost of current County debt or acceeding toward a AAA bond rating?

    I have your numbers, calculations and budget interest, so where is the County’s, or has all that been bundled into a single idea that no one person seems to know anything about.

    How many more DISCONNECTS do you anticipate running into before the truth comes out?