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March 16, 2011

Albemarle to advertise current real estate tax rate for FY2012

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By Sean Tubbs
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Wednesday, March  16, 2011

Three members of the Albemarle Board of Supervisors said Monday they would support a one cent increase in the real estate property tax to pay for new infrastructure.   However, a motion to advertise the higher rate failed on a 3-3 vote.

20110314-Duane-Snow
Supervisor Duane Snow

“It’s important that we maintain our roads, it’s important that we keep working on our infrastructure,” Supervisor Duane Snow said.

Snow was joined in supporting the increased rate by Supervisors Dennis Rooker and Ann Mallek.  In the face of a deadlock, a second motion to advertise the rate at 74.2 cents per $100 of assessed property value was approved unanimously.

The votes came during a work session to discuss the county’s proposed $18.2 million capital improvement program budget for the next fiscal year. The CIP totals $75.4 million over the next five years, with the majority of funding going to maintenance.

“We do think this proposed program does adequately address our existing infrastructure in terms of maintenance and it includes two critical projects,” said assistant county executive Bill Letteri, referring to a new fire station on Ivy Road and renovations at Greer Elementary School.

In FY2012, no funding is allocated towards community development projects, such as sidewalks or new roads. There is also no funding for the county to participate in VDOT’s “revenue-sharing” program where county dollars are matched one-to-one with state money.

Part of Governor Bob McDonnell’s transportation package in the recent session of the General Assembly included an increase of funding for the program .

“Not being able to take advantage of the revenue-sharing program is I think extremely imprudent,” Rooker said.

Halfway through the work session, Rooker suggested a one-cent tax increase to raise $1.5 million for capital projects, including participation in VDOT revenue sharing and the construction of a new library in Crozet.

“My expectation is that the making of this public investment will help the entirety of downtown Crozet which will then ultimately provide additional tax revenues,” Rooker said.

However, Supervisor Kenneth C. Boyd said it was not the time to raise taxes, and predicted that the county would get additional revenue from retail developments such as the former Albemarle Place, now known as Stonefield.

“[There are] still a lot of people out of work, and I’m not at a place where I want to increase taxes to pay for a Crozet library,” Boyd said.

Rooker argued that by raising additional revenues to pay for the project now, the county would save money by taking advantage of lower interest rates and lower construction costs. But Boyd, who has made the same argument in advocating for speedy construction of a new earthen dam at the Ragged Mountain Reservoir, was not persuaded.

“In businesses and our personal lives, we all have lost opportunity costs,” Boyd said. “I agree it’s unfortunate but we don’t have the money right now. I don’t want to put that burden on taxpayers… I think we can weather through it and still move forward as this economy turns around.”

Supervisor Rodney Thomas said he agreed with Boyd.
 
“I think it’s time to tighten our belts maybe a bit more, and hold it tight for a while longer,” Thomas said.

Supervisor Lindsay Dorrier said he could not support the increase because too many people are on fixed incomes and can’t absorb the additional tax.

“The public seems to support [staying at 74.2 cents] because they certainly didn’t come out at the public hearing,” Dorrier said.

But Snow said he could support the increase. 

“For that one cent we can add jobs back into the community to help some of these people that are out of work,” Snow said.

With a 3-3 stalemate, Mallek asked Boyd, Thomas and Dorrier if any of them would support an equalized rate of 75 cents, which would bring in the same amount of revenue as the current fiscal year.

 A 74.2 cent tax actually results in a tax decrease for most property owners because of declining property values. Once the board votes to advertise a tax rate, it can only be decreased, not increased before the adoption of the budget.

Thomas said he wanted to keep the rate as is, and Boyd and Dorrier agreed. A motion by Rooker to adopt an equalized tax rate also failed.

However, that does not necessarily mean the county will not participate in VDOT’s revenue sharing program.

Staff had presented the board with the option of setting aside $448,000 in FY12 to pay for operating costs at the new Ivy fire station when it opens in FY13.

Rooker suggested, however, that the money should be used to ensure the county could participate in VDOT revenue sharing.

Also at the work session, the Board agreed to make a one-time payment of $5,000 to the Albemarle Charlottesville Historical Society to support the Hatton Ferry. They also agreed to authorize a half-time employee at the Crozet Library. The library had asked for a full-time employee at a cost of nearly $31,000.

Many other capital projects loom on the horizon, such as the potential need for a new complex to house the county’s court system. In May, the board will hold a work session on long-term funding strategies for that and other capital projects.

TIMELINE FOR PODCAST #1:

Listen using player above or download the podcast: Download 20110314-BOS-Budget3-part1

  • 01:00 - Introduction from County Executive Tom Foley recapping work session with school board
  • 06:00 - Motion to approve school budget communications strategy
  • 06:30 - Foley introduces the agenda for the CIP work session
  • 07:00 - Assistant County Executive Bill Letteri begins review of the capital improvement program budget
  • 10:35 - Letteri explains how CIP budget is based on a 74.2 cent increase
  • 13:00 - Supervisor Ken Boyd asks what happens with surpluses that result from projects that come in under budget
  • 13:40 - Letteri relates recent trends in CIP funding
  • 17:00 - Discussion of the Ivy fire station which is in the CIP
  • 18:30 - Letteri describes how funds are transferred into the CIP
  • 23:30 - Boyd asks if the CIP anticipates replacement of county court buildings
  • 24:45 - Letteri describes recommendations from CIP oversight committee, including discussion of extending life  of fire equipment
  • 28:30 - Boyd questions whether some maintenance projects are simply improvements that could be deferred
  • 29:50 - Letteri describes projects in the capital budget, with discussion about planned Ivy fire station
  • 38:30 - Rooker asks question about appraisal software that is listed in the CIP
  • 54:30 - Rooker asks what could be built with another $1 million in the CIP and points out 1 cent rise equals $1.5 million
  • 01:03:30 - Boyd responds to Rooker
  • 01:07:00 - Rooker laments county's inability to pursue VDOT revenue sharing money
  • 01:09:30 - Supervisor Duane Snow asks how much the surplus was for the previous fiscal year
  • 01:14:45 - Boyd claims Barnes' lumber project is being held up by county bureaucracy, citing rumors
  • 01:17:00 - Rooker and Supervisor Ann Mallek suggest using VDOT revenue sharing money to fix Broomley Bridge
  • 01:21:30 - Rooker asks supervisors if they would support a one-cent increase in sales tax to to capital
  • 01:23:00 - Dorrier asks about the "rainy day fund"
  • 01:25:00 - Boyd explains his opposition to any tax increase 01:31:00 - Snow explains his support for a one-cent increase
  • 01:37:00 - Mallek asks Boyd, Thomas and Dorrier if they will support an equalized tax rate


TIMELINE FOR PODCAST #2:

Listen using player above or download the podcast: Download 20110314-BOS-Budget3-part2

 

  • 01:00 - Discussion of compensation and benefits led by Lorna Gerome,  Acting Director of Human Resources.
  • 19:00 - Lori Allshouse answers remaining questions about the budget brought up at previous work session
  • 21:30 - Conversation about reserving money in FY2012 budget for Ivy fire station operating funds in FY2013
  • 22:30 - Rooker suggests using Ivy fire station operating costs set-aside for VDOT revenue sharing match instead
  • 28:00 - Discussion of Hatton Ferry
  • 30:00 - Dorrier explains why he wants the $5,000 for the Hatton Ferry
  • 33:45 - Snow explains why he would support the $5,000 for the Hatton Ferry
  • 40:15 - Snow asks for more information on the county self-insuring vehicles
  • 43:00 - Discussion of new employee at Crozet Library
  • 53:45 - Discussion of restoring funding for ACE program
  • 01:05:00 - Rooker makes a motion to advertise 75 cent tax rate 
  • 01:08:00 - Boyd makes a motion to advertise tax rate

 

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