Monday, January 26, 2009

Augusta reassessments: A tale of two supervisors

As real estate assessments arrive in the mail around Augusta County, home and business owners are receiving a shock. At a time when many jobs are being lost in this central Shenandoah Valley location, the thought to some that their tax rate would rise is not appreciated.

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.

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.
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.
“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.”

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.”
Some may disagree with what "needs" the county should fund during tight times when citizens are having to cinch their belts.

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.


Anonymous said...

Here we go. The ol' "growth can't pay for itself" mantra?

How about taking a hard look at the budget and finding out just what growth is expected to pay for?

A concerned citizen said...

I received my assessments in the mail on Saturday. The one for my primary residence went up approx. 21%. I also received the reassessment for the land I own in the Buffalo Gap area. To my shock and horror, it had gone up 150% in value. Now how could this be? They said that most assessments would increase by 28% and the commercial land would go up approx. 42%, but my unimproved land went up 150%. It sits on the side of a mtn. No improvements whatsoever. How could this happen? This is ludicrous to say the least. I had hoped to retire this upcoming year but with this kind of reassessment on my land plus my house and property value going up, I don't see how my husband and I can afford to retire. I need to attend the upcoming meeting on Wednesday at the government center to see what others have to say and to see what can be done to appeal this unreasonable, excessive reassessment on my land. God help us if we cannot get this matter reversed.

Richard said...

To 'acc', I'm in the same boat; my land value went up 120%. No one around here can sell anything; there are homes out here that have been on the market for over 5 years and the same holds true for land. Our property is not worth this much and they know know it, they only need the money and we're the easiest people to get it from.