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Shenandoah County board mulls 6-cent tax hike


By Sally Voth -- svoth@nvdaily.com

WOODSTOCK -- The Shenandoah County Board of Supervisors Thursday settled on a proposed real-estate tax increase of 6 cents, but took great pains to say that number will change.

Budget manager Garland Miller said after the meeting the proposed tax increase must be advertised April 3 and 10 ahead of a public hearing scheduled for April 17. To meet advertising deadlines, the panel had to set a figure at its work session on Thursday.

Miller said the supervisors can then decide to adopt a lower tax rate, but if they wish to set one above the 6 cents, that rate would have to again be advertised and the subject of a public hearing.

A 6-cent increase would bring the real-estate tax rate to 53 cents per $100 of assessed value.

A proposed $54 million fiscal 2013 budget -- $5.6 million higher than this year's -- prepared by County Administrator Doug Walker included an 8-cent increase.

Supervisors alluded to public pressure they're getting because of the proposed increases.

District 2 Supervisor Steve Baker and District 1 Supervisor Dick Neese had voted during the session to keep the 8 cents as "a placeholder" for the budget. Supervisors had discussed the state of flux the budget figures are in, especially given the uncertainty of state funding.

"This board is caught between a rock and a hard spot," Baker said.

He said the panel could always adopt a tax rate lower than the one being advertised.

"I think everybody realizes it's not going to stay there because we're going to cut it," Supervisors Chairman Conrad Helsley said.

District 4 Supervisor Sharon Baroncelli replied, "No, everybody doesn't realize it, and that's the situation we're in."

She argued to lower the advertised rate to 6 cents.

"I have no problem letting the county budget be the placeholder," said Ferguson, who later voted against the 8-cent figure.

He said he wasn't ready to approve increasing the tax rate by a penny, and needed to look at the budget and make cuts where necessary.

"I'm not ready to say what that's going to be yet," Ferguson said. "I have no problem with advertising what it is, that this is stipulated in the budget, as long as the public knows it's just a placeholder."

"Don't count on it," District 5 Supervisor Dennis Morris retorted.

Helsley added, "We know that it's just a placeholder. Whether that's how it will be presented, I can't answer."

Before placing his vote on the 8-cent increase, Ferguson queried his colleagues.

"What's your concern, saying you're afraid of a placeholder?" he asked. "Are you afraid it's not going to be presented well with the communication with the public, so therefore, you're saying no, or you're saying you really think the board is going to go in at 8 cents?"
Baroncelli said an 8-cent increase wouldn't "be reality" for her.

"My reality would be to start at the 6, and see what happens, what pans out, what cuts we make," she said.

The Board of Supervisors' next budget work session is scheduled for 7 p.m. Tuesday.




14 Comments



Again, somehow the people of Shenandoah County keep re-electing these people.

Maybe after the Wiseley/McCleary Upset of 2011, potential candidates will have hope when going against the now-crumbling republican machine.

The reality of this mess isn't because its republican, democrat, or any other party. Its because the people of Shenandoah County are still electing officials based on the good ole boy network. And these good ole boys (and girls) are not doing the people of the county any favors, unless its the businessmen and companys helping to get them re-elected. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to know that there are cuts that can be made. Almost every household in America has had to make cuts to their own budgets. Why are we now having to bear the burden when the county can't make cuts of their own. All you need to do is drive thru Woodstock and you can see where the money went. 3 courthouses, beautification projects, county vehicles, and the list goes on. Some words of wisdom the Supervisors, if the money isn't there DONT SPEND IT. Thats what I do at my house.

The reality of this mess isn't because its republican, democrat, or any other party. Its because the people of Shenandoah County are still electing officials based on the good ole boy network. And these good ole boys (and girls) are not doing the people of the county any favors, unless its the businessmen and companys helping to get them re-elected. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to know that there are cuts that can be made. Almost every household in America has had to make cuts to their own budgets. Why are we now having to bear the burden when the county can't make cuts of their own. All you need to do is drive thru Woodstock and you can see where the money went. 3 courthouses, beautification projects, county vehicles, and the list goes on. Some words of wisdom the Supervisors, if the money isn't there DONT SPEND IT. Thats what I do at my house.

Here in ShenCo, Good ol' Boy = Republican Machine. Not saying the Democrats would be any better or worse, but you are right, the GOB network needs to be broken up.

In these critical fiscal times it is not acceptable to throw numbers around like the 'good old days'. IF my math is right, a 8 cent increase represents a 17% increase in the tax rate and 6 cents represents a 12.7% increase.

To my knowledge, the inflation rate is not that high, correct?

In my view, it may be time to go back to the 'zero based budget' approach and have every PENNY of our hard earned tax dollars be justified by all departments in the county.

We appreciate the hard work necessary to operate our fine county. Now is the time to put every tax dollar being spent under the microscope of 'fair and reasonable' scrutiny. And don't give us the 'bull' that teachers, fire fighters and police will have to go first. There are a lot of areas other than personal that need review FIRST.

Have we thought about a spending freeze for a year? That's what most sensible people do in a fiscal crisis at home.

Supervisors, at the national, state, county and household levels we are going BROKE. For God's sake tighten the belt on spending, it's your duty.

Just my 2 cents.

Supervisors: Why not do the work we're paying you to do in advance of your prescheduled meeting, and KNOW how much money you'll need instead of guessing at an amount. The concept of "placeholders" to me equates to "Unprepared Supervisors." Perhps we should start with some salary cuts at the supervisor level?

God bless the regional jail! Tax hikes, tax hikes, tax hikes!!!

The large problem comes in here as the state has mandated expenditures for each county. The state has said that every county employee (teachers included) must pay in 5% of their salary to VRS. In addition to that mandate, they have said that the locality must pay the employee a 5% salary increase in order to keep their take home pay relatively similar. If you do not like how the state mandates are going and being passed along to our pockets, then do something about it! Maybe it's time to start looking at how our representatives are voting. Gilbert's party line voting isn't helping our pockets. We need to start at the general assembly and get people in there who understand the working population of Shenandoah County and that are not just going to pass the buck.

Bottom line - VOTE for the right people, not the good old boy network!

Just be glad you don't live in Prince William county as their tax rate is set for $1.215 per $100 assessment.
That's about 2 1/2 times this rate.

Pretentiousness has a price...It ain't easy being greasy.

The Shenandoah County Board of Supervisors is letting the tail wag the dog.
Instead of raising the real-estate tax 6 cents (from $.47 to $.53, a 14% increase), to meet spending levels proposed by county staff, the Board should first consider how much of an increase residents can afford. That's probably a smaller increase (if any).
Whatever that amount, the Shenandoah County Board of Supervisors should just tell Budget manager Garland Miller and other county staff that's how much they've got to work with. County staff should then be directed to adjust their proposed spending numbers to fit the amounts that residents are willing and able to pay.

I thought Republicans were for lower taxes!

When your re-election is guaranteed by the Machine/Good ol' Boy Network, you can be for anything you want. In this case, it's serving the industry, developers and their investors who contribute to their reelection funds.

Right you are!!



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