March 5, 2014
The Albemarle County Board of Supervisors has voted on an advertised tax rate for next fiscal year -- and it could mean a larger-than-anticipated increase for property owners.
After more than four hours of discussion and three motions, the board voted 4-2 to advertise the rate at 80.8 cents per $100 of assessed real estate value. That's a 4.2 cent increase over the current rate of 76.6 cents.
Supervisors Ken Boyd and Jane Dittmar were the opposing votes.
This would be the first real estate tax rate increase since 2009.
Last month, county staff presented its recommended budget to the board, which included a tax hike of just 1.7 cents. Supervisors more than doubled the proposed increase Wednesday night.
"That's something that people really should not get hung up on -- the per cent. They should really look at their individual property taxes and understand what the monthly impacts are going to be for them," said supervisor Brad Sheffield. "On the average home of $250,000, we're looking at about $10 a month of an increase is what that boils down to."
Much of the discussion prior to the vote focused on trying to help fill a $7 million budget shortfall looming for Albemarle County Public Schools.
Staff's smaller recommended hike would have left county schools $5.8 million short in their funding request.
The advertised tax rate supervisors voted for Wednesday night would give the schools an additional $3.4 million to help offset the gap, but still leaves schools with a $2.4 million deficit.
After the vote, Superintendent Dr. Pam Moran said she's glad the board is at least considering giving the schools more money.
Supervisors acknowledged some residents won't be pleased to hear the advertised rate, but hope to work with them in figuring out how they should set the tax rate in April.
"We hope to hear from our constituents. What we have heard up until now is, 'fund education.' The surveys show there's a priority for education," said supervisor Diantha McKeel. "Certainly, while we have not solved their problem, we've tried to at least make a dent in their fund gap."
The board could end up setting the rate lower but cannot go any higher than the advertised rate they agreed on Wednesday.
A public hearing on the advertised rate is scheduled for April 8.
The board will set the rate on April 15.