Board votes to advertise real estate tax rate at $0.996

The real estate property tax for the coming year could approach $1 per $100 of the assessed value of your home if the Chesterfield County Board of Supervisor votes to implement the advertised increase they voted in favor of last week.

The Board agreed to advertise a $0.996 real estate tax rate, an increase of $0.046 over the current $0.95 rate. But the additional taxes would be split three ways.

Three cents of the increase would be used for schools: two cents for school infrastructure revitalization initiative, so the debt on the latest bond referendum can be paid in seven years and one cent to restore schools capital improvement funding that is critical for major maintenance. The remaining 1.6 cents is being advertised to cover a state mandated storm-water reduction service district.

The adopted tax cannot be higher than the advertised rate. A number of public meetings on  the budget will be held before the March 26 budget public hearing, dates to be determined.

Jim Holland, Chairman and Dale District Supervisor said that the county has suffered many losses over the last five years and the county has a lot to make up, especially in the schools division.

“We have deferred major maintenance and replacement of aging schools and school bus fleet, eliminated over 600 county school positions, increased class sizes and reduced educational offerings,” Chairman Holland said. “We stand today at a juncture where we will need to make the first down payment on revitalizing our infrastructure and charting a course for our future to invest in our educational system. We are committed to making Chesterfield County Schools the best in the nation.”

The Budget and Management staff recommends rates for each tax classification and reported that only the real estate tax would be increased. The report states that “the operating budget can be balanced without additional revenue, though to do so would entail reductions in programs and services.”

A preponderance of the increase in the tax rate is being dedicated to schools, although restoring services was an option for some supervisors.

“Advertising a rate is not passing a rate,” Midlothian District Supervisor, Dan Gecker said. “In fact, it is a tool to allow the citizenry to have some input into those issues that are important to them. Frankly, the input we have denied them in the previous five years.”

Chesterfield’s tax rate has remained unchanged since 2008 when it was reduced from $0.97 to $0.95.

“Years ago the prevailing thought was that the School Board and the Board of Supervisors were pitted against one another,” said Bermuda District Supervisor, Dorothy Jaeckle. “I believe that both these boards have made a concerted effort to work with each other, view each other as a whole and not separate entities. We on the Board of Supervisors recognize how important schools are to the community as a whole and the School Board recognizes that we are tasked with balancing out all the needs of the county, especially in these challenging budget years. No matter how good our schools are, people will not live here if they do not feel safe in their home or safe in the community.”

The Board approved advertising the new rate 4-1. Steve Elswick voted no.

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