Katie Thisdell reports on news from Stafford County. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 540/735-1975.
Tax Rate Twist
If the Stafford County Board of Supervisors follows the recommendation of their Budget and Finance Committee, they could advertise a real estate tax rate of $1.12 for the upcoming fiscal year. That would be two cents below the rate that County Administrator Anthony Romanello used to craft his proposed budget.
Depending on what is ultimately approved, the lower tax rate could mean $2,340,000 in cuts to the proposed budget. Each penny on the tax rate generates about $1,170,000 in revenue for the county.
The $1.14 tax rate used by Romanello is referred to as the “Modified Equalized Rate,” meaning that the average homeowner would pay the same amount in taxes as they did last year. Under the $1.14 budget, Commissioner of the Revenue Scott Mayausky said that 50 percent of homeowners would not see an increase in their total real estate tax bill. The $1.12 rate, while an increase over the current 84-cent rate, would likely result in lower tax bills for more Stafford residents than previously anticipated.
“We made our recommendation based on the worst case scenario,” Romanello said of his proposed budget. “State revenues came in better than we thought. We are currently evaluating our numbers and will continue working through the budget process with the Board.”
Supervisors typically set the annual tax rate at or below the rate advertised for public hearing. Adopting a higher rate would require a second public hearing. The adopted budget must be balanced, so any reduction in the tax rate demands a reduction in expenses or an increase in other revenues.
The members of the Budget and Finance Committee are supervisors Cord Sterling, Susan Stimpson and Gary Snellings. Their recommendation will be delivered at a special meeting of the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday March 23, when supervisors hope to schedule a public hearing on tax rates and the Fiscal Year 2011 budget. The county budget is typically passed in April.
“The proposed budget was just the starting point,” Romanello said. “There is still much work to be done by staff and the Board.”