After public hearing, supervisors defer decision on tax increase

By: Michael Campbell | Twitter: @itsthesoup
Posted: Apr. 11, 2018 | 11:10 a.m.

PRINCE GEORGE – A decision on a proposal to raise the county’s real estate tax rate for the coming year has been tabled until the Prince George Board of Supervisors’ next meeting on April 24 following concerns from citizens and supervisors alike about the need to implement an increase during the upcoming fiscal year.

As part of County Administrator Percy Ashcraft’s proposed budget for the 2019 fiscal year, a five-cent increase to the county’s real estate tax rate and mobile home/tangible property rate, raising both of them to 91-cents per $100 of assessed value was included to help pay for one new elementary school after school leaders suggested that Walton and Beazley elementary schools are in need of a replacement.

The proceeds gained from the five-cent real estate tax increase would be fully devoted to the school capital project of building one new elementary school, according to the county.

Complete Coverage: Prince George FY2019 Budget Building
Reporting By: Michael Campbell, News Editor

Per the Code of Virginia, before any changes to the county’s tax rate can go forward, a public hearing must be held and, once the tax rates are advertised for the public hearing, they can only be decreased from their advertised values, not increased.

Tuesday evening’s public hearing saw many speak in favor of supporting the county’s school division but thought placing the burden on the taxpayer was not the right direction, suggesting the county look at making cuts in other places to make the expected $29 million new school financially feasible without passing the costs to the county taxpayer.

Prior to the board’s decision to defer action on the county’s tax rate for next year, Prince George School Board Chairman Robert Cox spoke and informed the public and leaders that while “they could build a school in 15 months,” the school division has decided to take “a slower approach,” using North Elementary School as a prototype for what the school could look like when completed.

“We don’t need to raise taxes for the schools tonight,” Chairman Cox said to supervisors prior to the closure of the public hearing.

Following those words, Supervisor T.J. Webb made the motion to defer a decision on raising the county’s real estate tax rate while supervisors did accept the rest of the county’s tax levies for the upcoming year, with the county’s personal property tax rate – currently $4.25 per $100 of assessed value – and machinery and tools tax rate – currently $1.50 per $100 of assessed value – remaining the same with no changes for the upcoming fiscal year, which starts July 1.

Even though the county advertised a five-cent increase to the mobile home/tangible property rate, supervisors Tuesday evening opted to not move forward on that increase and instead voted to keep it at its current level of 86-cents per $100 of assessed value.

Discussion of the proposed increase to the county’s real estate tax is expected to continue at the Board of Supervisors’ next meeting on April 24.

News Editor Michael Campbell was at the Tuesday evening public hearing and will have a complete report on what the community said regarding the proposed tax increases in the April 18 issue of The Prince George Journal newspaper.

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