Strasburg might raise taxes

STRASBURG — The Town Council may raise taxes for its next fiscal year.

During a budget work session on Tuesday, Councilman Don LeVine expressed support for potentially raising taxes as a way of saving to pay for expensive projects. Councilman Scott Terndrup brought up the idea of talking about a potential tax increase in a future budget discussion.

Between extending Borden Mowery Drive in the town’s business park and paying for a downtown event space on King Street, the town has several high-cost items it will soon have to pay for. LeVine said that by raising taxes now, the town could ease residents into paying for the projects, rather than surprising them when the town’s expenses start to climb.

“If you don’t [raise taxes] gradually, you’re going to be hit with a jolt,” LeVine said.

But Councilman John “Red” Hall was reluctant to support such a plan because the town has not yet had to make loan payments for the projects.

“I don’t know about everybody else, but I sure hate to make payments on a loan that I do not have,” Hall said.

LeVine’s plan is partly based on the level of uncertainty surrounding the funding of the town’s extension of Borden Mowery Drive. The town has applied for a grant with the Virginia Department of Transportation that would ease the amount of money the town would have to spend on the project, but it has yet to hear back on whether or not it will receive the state funding.

Dottie Mullins, director of finance for Strasburg, said that the town’s budget assumes that the town will receive the grant funding.

“We may not get that grant,” LeVine said.

It is far from certain that the town will in fact raise taxes. Members of the Town Council did not attach any numbers to any potential tax increase.

During Tuesday’s meeting, council members agreed to discuss a possible tax increase during their March 19 discussion on capital project spending. In the meantime, the town asked staff members to look into potential tax increases that could be presented in that March meeting.

LeVine said during the meeting that because the goal of a tax increase would be to offset future spending on capital projects, the higher taxes would ideally go away once the town has paid for the projects.