Tax Cut Or Tax Hike?

By: Whitney Holmes
By: Whitney Holmes

March 11, 2005

Last week, City Manager Gary O'Connell proposed cutting the tax rate by four cents.

People got excited, but not the Charlottesville Taxpayers Association. They say this tax cut is misleading.

"It really doesn't matter what the tax rate is, citizens will still be paying a much higher percentage," said Jim Moore, member of the Taxpayers Association.

People will still be paying more because the tax cut is not enough to offset real estate assessments, which continue to rise dramatically.

City councilor Kevin Lynch said the city relies unhealthily on real estate tax because of cuts in state funding.

"At the government level, the car tax was cut, leaving the state to cut back in the amount of money that it gave localities for things like jails, schools, police, therefore requiring us to get additional revenues to make up the difference," explained Lynch.

The state also requires the city each year to adjust it's tax rate down to a level that equals 101 percent of the previous tax levy, according to reassessments.

This would make Charlottesville's tax rate 99 cents per $1,000. Currently, it is $1.09. O'Connell wants to cut it to $1.05 for the 2006 fiscal year.

If the city wants to raise the rate, as it has, they must notify the public.

The Taxpayers Association says their goal is for this to be done.

"Our only point, I think, is to make it clear, as intended by state law, that the localities should really make it clear to the public that this is what they are doing," professed Moore.

The City Council is holding a public forum this Saturday, March 12, at 10 a.m. at Tonsler Park.

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