Sunday, May 06, 2012

News Virginian: Augusta supervisors made right call to raise taxes

Financial times are tough everywhere and that makes it difficult for elected leaders to make decisions about taxes and spending. Sunday's News Virginian agreed that Augusta County supervisors made the right decision to slightly raise personal property taxes. (The editorial wasn't online Sunday afternoon but can be found on page A 4 of the hard copy.)

The NV wrote:
One doesn't have to be a dyed-in-the-wool conservative to see that, in a recession, tax increases probably aren't advisable.

However, Augusta County supervisors last week took what seems a difficult-but-prudent step of raising the personal property tax rate from $2.25 to $2.50 per $100 of assessed value.
I'm not for unnecessary taxes and I definitely believe in cutting spending.

However, when schools are threatened with closure due to lack of funds ... when there is a desperate need for firefighters (four houses have burned in Augusta County in the last month) ... and a need for deputies (they got cut out of the budget last week -- only David Karaffa voted to keep them in the budget), then we need revenue. And I'm not above spending a few more dollars -- I'll probably pay $50 more this year on car taxes -- to make sure those core services are available to the citizens of the county.

Over 400 people -- many of them teachers, parents, students, and residents with the local grassroots group SOS (Save Our Schools) -- turned out on February 22 to urge supervisors to raise taxes in order to keep those core services. A group of 30 anti-tax people turned out on April 18 to ask that taxes remain the same.

Some supervisors heard one group, and some heard the other.

The News Virginian as well as Staunton's News Leader agreed in editorials that taxes needed to go up to help localities shoulder the burden of local costs as well as unfunded mandates handed down from legislators in Richmond.

The News Virginian went on to say:
Beverley Manor District Supervisor David Karaffa also made an especially good point by saying that it would be better to look at a real-estate tax rate increase after the county's next reassessment, which should be ready by January 2014.
Some may wonder why it takes so long to get the new assessment. The board was seated January 1 of this year. A study then began because of the flawed 2008 tax assessments. Bids were submitted, a new company was selected, and now they are preparing to spend 2013 assessing property in a large county that is a mere ten square miles smaller than the state of Rhode Island. If done properly -- and we trust that will happen this time -- each and every house and parcel of land must be eyeballed by the assessors in order to have a fair and complete assessment ... and that takes time.

That means 2013 will be spent assessing with the new figures turned in by the first of 2014. That is when the new tax rate will be set ... and that's why it is not a process that can be done overnight.

The News Virginian ended their editorial by writing:
The supervisors had a tough call to make Wednesday. But they made the right one.

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