April 10, 2007
The Charlottesville City Council adopted a $122 million budget which includes a tax rate of $.95. But some say Council could have lowered that rate even further.
"There is easily another two cents that we can shave off of this budget," said Councilor Kevin Lynch.
In a 4 to 1 vote, Charlottesville City Council passed a budget this evening that cut the property tax rate by four cents from last year. But some Councilors still believe it could have gone lower.
"It's not a perfect budget. I don't think any of us go home and think it has everything we wanted. I wouldn't have minded seeing us lower the tax rate a little bit more," said Mayor David Brown.
On average, homeowners in Charlottesville saw their assessments rise nearly 15 percent this year with some neighborhoods seeing a rise of even double that number. Rising assessments brought displeasure from many throughout the community. Lynch was the only nay vote tonight. He believes Council could have done more to alleviate the problem.
"I think there are still many things that we could have cut in this year's budget that we probably should have cut. I think four cents is something, but we could have done easily six cents," he said.
But Brown says growing unfunded mandates from the state and federal governments drives much of the city's growing costs.
"There is a lot of things that we are asked to do that the state government doesn't fulfill its part of it and we have to pick up the tab," he said.
There is a Constitutional amendment before the state government right now that would make it legal to differentiate the way localities tax homeowners and commercial property owners. If adopted, it would go into effect in 2009. Several Councilors say they hope this could generate more revenue from commercial property taxes easing the burden on Charlottesville homeowners.
This budget fully funded public schools and put nearly a million dollars aside for affordable housing initiatives.