Tuesday, February 10, 2009

News Virginian: "Break needed for taxpayers"

The Waynesboro News Virginian has gotten it since Fall 2008. In explaining that supervisors do not have to go with 2009 real estate assessments, part of the October 22, 2008, editorial read:

Another concern had been raised over the legality of a delay, but that has been rendered moot. Augusta is required under state law to conduct reassessments every four years. The state’s hammer for communities that fail to reassess is that it can withhold profit shares from Virginia’s Alcoholic Beverage Control agency. The amount would be niggling, and the state would carry some public relations risk in punishing counties seeking to shield taxpayers from increased cost amid financial crisis. We would certainly take notice.

Of course, as Chairman David Beyeler implied during Monday’s meeting, supervisors do not want for other options to reduce the pressure of government’s hand on property owners. Supervisors could cut the tax rate, currently 58 cents for every $100 of assessed value. Reducing the rate by roughly 20 percent to 46 cents would mean that the owner of a home priced at the median in 2005 would face a tax bill of $1,212, just $63 higher than the current amount. Acting in such a fashion would demonstrate supervisors’ grip on the reality their constituents face.
So what happened? Here we are four months later and the supervisors have not demonstrated that they have a grip on the reality their constituents face ... hundreds of jobs lost, companies cutting back or, in the case of Unifi, completely closing down. It was even announced in today's paper that Hershey will temporarily lay off 148 workers at their Stuarts Draft plant until mid-March.

Last week 600 county residents turned out for a townhall meeting featuring Supervisor Tracy Pyles who proposed rolling back assessments to the 2004 level, and local attorney Francis Chester who has already received hundreds of signatures on petitions being circulated in the county requesting the Board of Supervisors roll back assessments to 2004 values.

Petitions will be turned into supervisors on Wednesday, March 11, 2009, at the BOS meeting at 7 pm at the Government Center in Verona. At that time all residents who have been hit with high real estate assessments are asked to turn out to send a message to supervisors.

Meanwhile, two BOS meetings will be held in February: Wednesday, Feb. 11, and Wednesday, Feb. 25. Both meetings will begin at 7 pm at the Government Center in Verona.

Together, Augusta ... we can make a difference!

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