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Supervisors raise taxes nearly 3 percent

Taxes in Fluvanna County are going up by almost 3 percent.

The Board of Supervisors approved a fiscal year 2018 (FY18) budget and associated tax rates at its meeting Wednesday night (April 12).

Supervisors voted 4-1 (Supervisor Don Weaver dissenting) to approve the $75.6 million budget and the following tax rates:

  • A real property tax rate of 90.7 cents per $100 valuation (an increase from the former equalized rate of 88.2 cents);
  • A personal property tax rate of $4.35 per $100 valuation (no change from the former rate);
  • A business and public utilities personal property tax rate of $2.90 per $100 valuation (down from the former rate of $4.35); and
  • A machinery and tools tax rate of $1.90 per $100 valuation (down from the former rate of $2).

A resident owning a house valued at $200,000 will see a tax increase of $50 this year.

No members of the public chose to speak at the meeting.

Chairman Mike Sheridan reminded the Board that the new E911 radio system has forced the tax rate up by 4.5 cents. So in increasing from 88.2 cents to 90.7 cents, “We’ve actually come down two cents on our tax rate,” he said.

Supervisors spent a large chunk of time debating whether to give county employees a raise, before ultimately deciding to build in a 2 percent pay increase halfway through the year.

Supervisor Trish Eager pointed out that county employees received a raise in December. Also, supervisors decided a few weeks ago to absorb the entire health insurance premium increase so as not to negate that raise through increased health insurance costs.

“I thought it was an either-or,” she said, referring to the health insurance decision and the option of providing another raise.

“I want our employees to know that we’re going to be like family if we can, and we’re going to help them as much as we can,” said Sheridan. “I want them to stay here and know how loyal we are to them – and hopefully they’ll be loyal to us.”

“I think that we have been,” said Eager. “We also have to represent the taxpayer. And they may not have gotten a 2 percent raise.”

“I’m sure [taxpayers] want the same thing done to them at their place of employment,” said Vice Chair Mozell Booker. “I don’t think everybody resents someone getting paid for work.”

County Administrator Steve Nichols said that there are about 180 full-time county employees. He also said that most surrounding counties gave a 2 percent pay raise last year and are doing the same this year.

When Supervisor Tony O’Brien asked how much of an overall raise employees have received in the last 10 years, Nichols said, “I’d say on average you’re about 1 percent up, because there were so many decreases for so many years where there weren’t any increases.”

The new budget includes $17.3 million in local funding for the schools, or $375,000 more than last year.

Supervisors also allocated an additional $35,000 for County Attorney Fred Payne, resulting in a total of $275,000 for the year. The county attorney fund has run dramatically over budget recently due to a plethora of county contracts that require Payne’s supervision.

Sheriff Eric Hess saw a bump of $11,000 in his budget to fund promoting a deputy into an investigator and to provide for drug abuse education.

If the county doesn’t accept hazardous waste at its Earth Day program, it ends up as litter and “we end up paying for it later,” said O’Brien. So supervisors voted to allocate $15,000 to the program.

The county has added four buildings since he started, said Wayne Stephens, director of public works, and he has one less worker than he originally had. Supervisors gave him about $20,000 to hire a new worker halfway through the year.

Supervisors unanimously passed the $1.45 million FY18 capital improvements plan, which includes $400,000 for new school buses, $200,000 for School Board office renovations, $200,000 for school technology infrastructure replacements, $175,000 for the county’s capital reserve maintenance fund, and $160,000 for new sheriff’s office vehicles.

“I was very pleased,” said Sheridan after the budget vote. “I thought we tried to find a way to add the new things that we agreed on and had to have, but also to try and lower the tax rate for the citizens as much as we could.”

O’Brien was also happy with the outcome. “I think this is a continuation of the Board working to strengthen our core services and protect our citizens while being good stewards of their money,” he said.

Weaver, the dissenting vote, said he was not surprised by how things turned out. “I think employees should pay part of the expense of their health insurance” increase, he said. “We spent $100,000 on a new road for Pleasant Grove. We didn’t have to do that. There’s money in there that never should have been spent. And we were already in debt over our head, and I can’t approve it.”

School Board member Perrie Johnson expressed her pleasure at the outcome of the vote. “I am absolutely thrilled with what I consider a vote of confidence in the decisions of the School Board,” she said.