New real estate tax rate increases by 1 cent

If you own real estate of any kind, in Chesterfield County, you will be paying  a little more on you bill this year beginning on July 1, as last week, the Board of Supervisors voted to increase real estate taxes by 1 cent based on assessments, which would increase real estate taxes from the current 95 cents to 96 cents of assessed value.

The added tax cuts both ways increasing $3 million per year to County coffers, while adding about $20 to the average $200,000 piece of real estate, based on property assessments.

The decision came after hours of haggling by the Board about whether the cuts in the budget would be appropriate or an increase would go up to 3 cents per $100, as advertised over six weeks ago, would be appropriate.

The Board could not increase the tax rate to over 3 cents per $100, as advertised, according to the Board.

“I contemplate a 3 cent increase,” Holland said.

“Funding education has been a high priority. If we vote to add the Reams Gordon library, I would be prepared to vote to increase the tax rate,” said Dan Gecker, Supervisor Midlothian district.

The Board voted 3 – 2 to increase taxes by 1 cent, instead of increasing it by as much as 3 cents. The board also doubled vehicle registration fees, pushing then up to $40. The added revenue of over $7 million per year will be slated for transportation.

But the Board voted to increase the tax after Jim Holland, Chairman of the Board and Dale District Supervisor, offered two motions, one to increase the tax to 3 cents and then when that motion got no support reduced his motion to 1 cent, which got the support of two Supervisors, Dorothy Jaeckle, Supervisor of the Bermuda District, Dan Gecker, Supervisor of the Midlothian District and the tie breaker, Chairman Jim Holland.

The 1 cent increase on real-estate taxes will be put toward Chesterfield County Public Schools (CCPS), which have had cuts to their budget since the beginning of the recession in 2009.

The 1 cent tax will not help the school system much according to teachers and county residents, who spoke in favor of the 3 cent increase during a public hearing in March.
“You cannot cut your way to excellence,” Holland said.

Teachers indicated that they were concerned about the status of CCPS cuts to electives, as well as how much the schools spend per student and the ranking of the CCPS ranking per student spent, which the Board and CCPS have indicated they are proud of.

CCPS high schools rank an average of 28 in Virginia, with $9,271 cost per student.

According to CCPS budget documents for this school year, “All other schools in Chesterfield are not ranked in the state. In 2011, Chesterfield County spent less per student than all but nine of Virginia’s 132 public school systems.”

The education piece would be delayed paying off fully funding school improvements from seven to 11 years. Gecker said if he were to write the headline in the media on this budget he would say that everyone on this board has the complete backing for schools with this budget.

“When revenue increases next year are we willing to give it back to the citizens?” Matoaca District Supervisor Steve Elswick asked.

“I didn’t come here to haggle over a few pennies,” Holland said. “At some point you have to invest.”

During the final discussion as motions and debate was beginning to be wrapped up, Holland said he would not discuss the budget any further and motioned to adopt a 3-cent increase and didn’t get a second. A 2-cent increase also died for a second.

Gecker motioned to adopt the 1 cent increase in the real-estate tax rate. Jaeckle offered the second and Holland clinched the adoption of 1 cent increase. Elswick and Warren voted not to adopt the rate or the cuts.

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