Councilman: County taking over library funding opportunity for cuts
By Kim Walter -- email@example.com
FRONT ROYAL -- Councilman N. Shae Parker is hoping to reduce the town's personal property tax rate once Warren County officially agrees to pay the town's share of funding for Samuels Public Library.
Parker told his fellow council members Monday night that that the cuts would be something to consider after the Board of Supervisors accepts a memorandum of understanding, under which the county would assume the funding burden for the library over the next two fiscal years.
The town requested the county take over all funding after recognizing that the library caused a double taxation issue with town residents, said County Administrator Douglas P. Stanley.
If the county takes over the town's share of funding the library, Front Royal could use the almost $48,000 in savings each year to lower the personal property tax, Parker said. The rate is currently 64 cents per $100 in value, and is levied on top of the county's tax.
At a recent work session, Parker says members learned that 1 cent of the personal property tax equals $8,000, which could mean a reduction of 6 cents in the rate. Parker also suggested reducing vehicle decal fees.
"We shouldn't be allocating the money just because we have less of an expense ... we're not in the business of making money," Parker said. "We need to take the money and return it to the citizens in some form or fashion."
Councilman Hollis Tharpe said he could agree with Parker, but not this year. Tharpe said that council members needed to wait until the deal with the county is settled so that they can be sure just how much money would be saved.
Director of Finance Kim Gilkey-Breeden pointed out that tax rates are being advertised as they were for last year, and they have to be set by March 1 due to twice-a-year billing. The rates have to be set before the town can approve a budget, she said.
Parker asked council members to encourage supervisors to accept the memorandum of understanding so they could move on in the process more quickly.
"Even a 1 percent reduction would be good," he said.
In another matter, council members discussed options for expanding hours of operation for the town's utility office.
Town Manager Steve Burke said the office could stay open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and either stay open until 6 p.m. one day a week or be open on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to noon, with minimal budget impact.
Council members asked for additional research on operations of surrounding municipalities, but agreed that there was no rush in making a final decision.