March 24, 2005
Property taxes have been skyrocketing in the area, pushing people to move out of their homes. For this reason, governor hopefuls, former Attorney General Jerry Kilgore (R) and Lieutenant Governor Tim Kaine (D), have proposed plans to control rising real estate assessments.
Kilgore has proposed a plan that would cap real estate assessment increases to five percent, eliminating surprises for taxpayers.
"Everybody knows up front, whether you are a taxpayer, homeowner or a locality, what exactly that tax will be so you can adequately plan for the future," said Chair of Albemarle County Republicans Keith Drake.
But others think this plan doesn't let localities such as Albemarle County, adequately plan for the future because it takes away their ability to adjust revenues to their needs.
"What happens if you are in the situation where the real property tax is your only source of adjustable revenue and the teachers are leaving the school system because they aren't being adequately paid and other public employees are leaving because they aren't being adequately paid and the locality has no ability to raise its revenues to meet those needs?" asked Albemarle County Board of Supervisors Chair Dennis Rooker.
Tim Kaine's plan on the other hand would still give localities this ability by giving them the option to exempt twenty percent of a home's value from taxes. But some localities say even better than this option is a relief from unfunded mandates.
"The other thing the state could do if they really want to take the pressure off the property taxes is they could stop sending unfunded mandates down to the localities," said Rooker.
Localities say they need property taxes to pay for these mandates, but others think this is just an excuse for fiscal irresponsibility.
"Too often we assume that what was spent last year was well spent, and then we focus solely on the revenues leftover to spend," said Drake.
Kaine has promised to veto any unfunded mandates as governor.