April 15, 2008
Charlottesville City Council passed next year's budget and the good news is it does not include a raise in property taxes.
Over the past few months residents have raised their concerns about the next city budget and while councilors agree they can't please everyone they believe they came fairly close.
“The big enchilada in the budget is the schools,” said Charlottesville Mayor Dave Norris.
One third of the city's $127.3 million dollar budget goes to fully fund the city schools budget despite the public's urging to not to blindly hand the schools a blank check.
“The schools have agreed to conduct a utilization study to look at how they are allocating their dollars and how they can build some efficiencies in the school and the city is looking into doing the same thing,” said Norris
Five million will go to replace the aging Smith Recreation Center pool.
Only a million and a half is earmarked for affordable housing. “I would have preferred not to have cut our investments in affordable housing. There is a pretty substantial cut and I am hoping we can make up for it in other ways,” said Norris.
The city transit system is adding two new routes. There's an increase in youth programs.
And there won't be quite as much signage directing drivers around Charlottesville. Councilors decided to cut its funding from one million to $500,000. “The majority of us on council felt that was excessive,” said Norris.
The issue of an additional ambulance service is still being worked out but there is a place holder in the budget for it.
The bottom line…your real estate tax is not going up in order to pay for all of next year's spending.
“Some people's assessments have gone up so they do get some increase but overall the tax rate remains the same,” said Charlottesville Vic Mayor Julian Taliaferro.
This budget is a 4% increase over the current year's budget, which is the smallest percentage increase the city's seen in a decade.