Board keeping tax rates unchanged

WOODSTOCK — Shenandoah County taxpayers can expect no change in their bills this year.

The Board of Supervisors voted 6-0 at a special meeting Tuesday to leave the tax rates on real estate and personal property unchanged. The new rates take effect immediately and Treasurer Cindy George said bills likely will go out in early May.

With the board’s action, the real estate tax rate remains at 57 cents per $100 of assessed value. A home assessed at $200,000 generates a tax bill of $1,140 at the current rate.

Chairman David Ferguson said after the meeting he felt happy the tax rate will stay the same.

“I’m pleased that we could do that this time,” Ferguson said.

The board plans to vote at its regular meeting next Tuesday on the proposed fiscal 2016 budget that assumes revenues collected at the tax rate as approved.

“I would like us to start maybe working on the budget maybe a little sooner next year than we do now and, if not, throughout the entire year,” Ferguson said. “We’re going to be faced with the same thing next year we were faced with this year, which is all the departments have been, because of constraints in the amount of funds we’ve given each department, they’re all gonna keep coming up with needs and we’re gonna have to find revenue streams.

“We’re gonna have to come [up] with ways to cut spending and we’re gonna need to do it way before we finalize the budget,” Ferguson added. “Whether it’s the school system knowing what to expect from the board as far as revenues that are available so that they can take that into consideration while they’re working [on] their budget because it’s very, very difficult to have a decision to cut a school system by $1.9 million when we don’t have the funds to meet that without a tax increase.”

The supervisors’ action also ends a trend of raising the real estate tax rate to balance the budget and, in last year’s case, fully fund the School Board spending request. The county in 2010 set the tax rate at 47 cents per $100 in a reassessment year, reducing the levy from 51 cents the previous year. The rate remained at 47 cents in 2011. The board then started increasing the rate to 51 cents in 2012 to 54 cents in 2013 and to 57 cents in 2014. The rate has increased by 10 cents or 21 percent since 2011. The county is undergoing a reassessment this year.

The board at an earlier work session voted to leave the real estate tax rate and other levies unchanged as they considered the fiscal 2016 budget.

Other tax rates remain as follows:

• Personal property at $3.50 per $100;

• Personal property for business at $3.15;

• Machinery and tools at $3.15;

• Merchants capital at 60 cents;

• Mobile homes at 57 cents.

The county does not charge taxes on farm machinery or livestock designated as personal property.

The board also voted 6-0 to set the ad valorum tax rates applied to real estate in the county’s two sanitary districts. In addition to the countywide real estate tax, customers in the Stoney Creek Sanitary District will continue to pay an additional 16 cents per $100 of assessed value on their property. Customers in the Toms Brook-Maurertown Sanitary District will pay an additional 4 cents per $100 of assessed value on their property.

The board also voted 6-0 on a resolution to allocate relief under the Personal Property Tax Relief Act of 1998 for qualifying, personal use vehicles for 2015. Vehicles valued at $1,000 or less are eligible for 100 percent relief from taxes. Vehicles valued at $1,001 to $20,000 can be eligible for 40 percent relief. Vehicles valued at more than $20,000 are eligible for 40 percent relief on the first $20,000.

Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or abridges@nvdaily.com