Warren County to propose 3 1/2-cent tax hike

FRONT ROYAL – Warren County homeowners could see higher tax bills under the latest budget proposal.

The Board of Supervisors voted 4-1 at a special meeting Tuesday to advertise a public hearing for a $102.22 million budget that reflects an increase in the real estate tax rate from 59.5 cents per $100 of assessed value to 63 cents. The board will hold the hearing at a special meeting April 12.

Chairwoman Linda Glavis, Vice Chairman Archie Fox and Supervisors Thomas Sayre and Tony Carter voted for the advertised rate.

“Nobody likes a tax increase,” Glavis said.

Fox said of employee salaries, “If we don’t finance it, we just can’t be competitive with other counties.”

Supervisor Daniel Murray Jr. did not support advertising a higher tax rate and suggested that departments could do more to cut from their requested budgets.

“We have to look at what we spend and how we spend it and where we spend it … ,” Murray said. “There’s things we’re doing that maybe we could curtail.

“Use what the definition of the organization is and take the fluff out of it and see what the real cost is and that’s across the board,” Murray added. “There’s things that get added. It creates almost a dynasty sometimes.”

County Administrator Douglas Stanley pointed out that board members may approve a rate below the advertised levy. Last spring the board advertised a rate of 61 cents and approved the 59.5-cent levy. However, the lower rate generated less revenue than desired, leaving the county with a larger budget gap this year.

The tax bill on property valued at $100,000 would increase from $595 to $630. The bill on property valued at $200,000 would increase from $1,190 to $1,260. The bill on property valued at $300,000 would increase from $1,785 to $1,890. The bill on property valued at $1 million would increase from $5,950 to $6,300.

Each cent on the tax rate generates approximately $404,000 in revenue. A 3-cent increase would generate $1.21 million with a half cent bringing in another $202,000. The proposal calls for 1 cent on the 31/2-cent increase to cover the county’s share of the cost of the Rappahannock-Shenandoah-Warren Regional Jail; 1 cent for the school division’s operating costs and 1½ cents to go toward the opening of the new middle school.

Increasing the rate by 31/2 cents also would generate an additional $262,689 the county receives from taxes paid by the Dominion power plant.

The county faced a shortfall of about $4.04 million between the projected revenue and the proposed spending for fiscal 2017. County officials looked for areas to cut and found ways to narrow the deficit and eventually balance the budget with the tax increase and use of savings.

The budget calls for the county to use an additional $345,541 from savings to help cover part of the local share of the jail costs. Another $585,000 from savings would go toward the cost of several one-time projects.

The board also heard from Daniel Lenz, director of the Department of Parks and Recreation, who explained how the agency cut more than $35,000 from the Front Royal Golf Club budget. Fox had recently suggested that the county investigate how much it could save by turning operations over to a private entity.

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

Correction: The headline on this story was changed to Warren County to propose 3 1/2-cent tax hike