By Alex Bridges
WOODSTOCK - Property owners in Shenandoah County could pay higher tax bills if leaders approve proposed rates.
The Board of Supervisors at a work session Tuesday decided to advertise higher tax rates for a public hearing in conjunction with its work on the fiscal 2014 budget. The board voted 6-0 to advertise increases of 6 cents on the tax rate for real estate tax rate and 35 cents for personal property such as vehicles, according to Budget Manager Garland Miller. The county also will advertise a proposed fiscal 2014 budget of approximately $56.5 million.
But while Supervisor John "Dick" Neese voted on higher rates for the purpose of the advertisement, Miller said Wednesday the board member said he would not support a tax increase.
The board will hold the required public hearing on the proposed tax rates and the budget at its meeting April 16. By law, the board must wait a week before it can vote on the ordinance to set the tax rates and the budget. State law allows the board to approve tax rates at or below the levies advertised - not above those amounts.
The decision came after Sheriff Timothy Carter presented information to the board regarding his department's funding needs for the next fiscal year. The discussion also focused on options proposed by the sheriff to help cover the cost to hire more school resource officers.
However, supervisors have not yet seen a proposed budget for the school system. The School Board is scheduled to approve a fiscal 2014 budget at its meeting Monday.
Former County Administrator Douglas Walker proposed a budget that included a recommended increase of the real estate tax rate from 51 cents to 57 cents per $100 of assessed value. If approved, his recommendation would mark the second year in a row the county raised tax rates. Last spring, the board approved a 4-cent increase in the rate - half the levy recommended by Walker.
The proposed budget included funding to give county government employees and school staff a 2 percent cost-of-living allowance increase. The proposal also calls for the hiring of four additional school resource officers.
The proposed real estate tax rates, if approved, would increase bills by approximately 11.7 percent. Under the proposal, a tax bill on a home assessed at $100,000 would increase from $510 to $570; at $200,000 would rise from $1,020 to $1,140; at $300,000 from $1,530 to $1,710.
Walker also recommended the board increase the personal property tax by 35 cents, from $3.15 to $3.50 per $100 of assessed value. The proposed rate would increase bills by approximately 11 percent.
Walker and other officials have explained that the county needs to increase the tax rate because revenue collection from various sources remains nearly flat compared to previous years.
Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or email@example.com