Home real estate values rose an estimated 28%; commercial properties rose an estimated 42%. That is a concern to the companies that are having to let workers go ... and to the workers who are being let go.
At the center of it all is Pastures Supervisor Tracy Pyles (D) who wants tax relief for citizens of the county ... while Riverheads Supervisor Nancy Sorrell (I) has other thoughts:
Supervisor Tracy Pyles said Friday that the county should make reassessment revenue neutral.While Mr. Pyles is concerned about the effect of local layoffs at a number of companies including Ply Gem of Stuarts Draft (53 workers laid off), Invista of Waynesboro (210 workers so far and possibly more), Mohawk of Waynesboro (73 jobs lost), and the Commonwealth Adolescent Center (slated to close the end of June resulting in the loss of 100 jobs), Ms. Sorrells said the county has to continue with necessary spending.
To do that, supervisors would be required to lower the current tax rate of 58 cents per $100 of assessed value to offset a 27.7 percent increase in reassessment values.
Supervisor Nancy Sorrells said it’s too early to determine such a move.
Pyles questioned the accuracy of the reassessment and the prudence of increasing the tax burden on property owners at a time when the economy is reeling.
“The federal government is giving a tax cut and the state is cutting their budget. But we’re going to do business as usual and increase taxes. We are not comprehending the pressures people are under,” Pyles said.
“It would be fiscally irresponsible” to lock in a lower rate now, she said. “We have to see the projected revenues and needs. Where we can make the cuts and tighten.”Some may disagree with what "needs" the county should fund during tight times when citizens are having to cinch their belts.
Just because times are tight, Augusta County can’t stop funding schools, emergency services and other essential services for county residents, Sorrells said.
Sorrells said that since the last reassessment, Augusta County has added population, adding to the need for services.
“The additional people need parks and recreation, libraries and schools. This is not population neutral,” she said. “We have to think about how we can continue to provide a high quality of service.”
The discussion about raising the rates has just begun as citizens begin to show up at the Government Center to protest their assessments.
The next Board of Supervisors meeting is this Wednesday, January 28, at 7:00 pm.