By Ryan Cornell
STEPHENS CITY -- Town residents should expect to pay higher taxes if Town Council approves the 3 cent real estate tax increase proposed in its fiscal 2015 budget.
Stephens City's real estate tax rate presently sits at 7.6 cents per $100 of assessed value, and could be increased to 10.6 cents.
For a home valued at $200,000, the tax increase would equate to an additional $60.
Real estate is the only tax increase proposed in the coming year's budget, which anticipates an additional $40,000 in revenue generated by the tax hike, according to Town Manager Mike Kehoe.
"A 1 cent increase brings in about $13,000 to the town coffers," he said during a public hearing on Wednesday. "...We're still far below a lot of the other communities as far as tax rates."
Councilman Joseph Hollis said the revenue would mostly be used for unfunded mandates, including the installation of computers in police vehicles.
"Every other jurisdiction in the area has done it and if we don't, we're going to be behind the eight-ball," he said about adding computers to the cruisers.
Michael Swygert-Smith, a Stephens City resident of 14 years, was the only person to speak at the public hearing.
He said he felt the need for additional revenue was adequately explained, but suggested phasing in the tax increase.
"If we need it, we could do it over two years instead of all at once," he said. "I'm proposing the council consider a two-step increase in the real estate tax rather than just one fell swoop."
Following the meeting, Kehoe expressed the need for the tax hike, which hasn't budged since 2007.
"To put things in perspective, we generate $102,000 currently with our real estate tax," he said. "Our cost for refuse and recycling is $110,000 a year. So you know, that's all the real estate [tax] pays for, is our garbage pickup and recycling. And we would rather not impose a charge for that."
Contact staff writer Ryan Cornell at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or firstname.lastname@example.org