The Augusta County Board of Supervisors will advertise the proposed upcoming fiscal year budget on Wednesday, and tax increases may be on the horizon.
The county released the proposed fiscal year budget for the upcoming year which includes a 10-cent increase in personal property taxes.
The proposed rate will increase from $2.50 per $100 to $2.60 per $100. According to the county, this change will allow for about $650,000 in additional revenue.
The reason for the tax increase is because county expenses will soon exceed revenue, according to Pastures Supervisor Pam Carter. She noted in a public statement Wayne Supervisor Scott Seaton, Riverheads Supervisor Michael Shull and herself all oppose the tax increase.
“I believe we can address the revenue shortfall without raising taxes and without dipping into the Capital fund, but it requires alternative ways of thinking rather than the easy ‘go-to’ of raising taxes,” Carter wrote. “Some examples that come to mind include increasing our efforts to collect six million dollars in delinquent taxes and using the money from the potential sale of Ladd Elementary School.”
Carter said alternative options have been asked about, but conversations have not yielded productive results.
“Unfortunately, when we asked the county finance director about other potential options rather than increasing taxes, she said there were none,” Carter continued. “That response is disheartening and, frankly, a disservice to the citizens of Augusta County and I won’t sit by and allow it. There are options.”
The board previously raised both the meal and lodging taxes from 4% to 6% at its March 24 meeting. Those increases will account for additional revenue of about $1,250,000 and $130,974, respectively.
Aside from the tax increase, the budget includes an 8% increase in general fund spending from FY21, which the county said is partly because of contributions from the CARES act and adjustments made to FY21 related to the pandemic.
Approximately $47.2 million of the funds will go to Augusta County schools, which is 56% of the total spending. Other spending includes 22% on general funds, 15% on other funds, and 6% on school funds not included in the $47.2 million.
The budget sets aside $2.5 million for public safety expenses, including expenditures related to the Middle River Regional Jail which might be expanded because of overpopulation in the jail. The county will also seek to add 15 fire-rescue positions in the county, and a fire-rescue career development program.
Roughly 67% of revenue will come from property taxes in Augusta County. Other local taxes will account for about 16%, while a combination of state and federal taxes, as well as other general revenue sources account for the remaining 17%.
While the budget will be advertised Wednesday, it will not be officially adopted until the board’s April 28 meeting. Residents can register to speak at the upcoming meeting or leave an eComment to be read at the meeting on Augusta County’s website. Carter encouraged people to come out and voice their opposition and to contact their supervisors.
“Our community, along with others, has been hit hard by COVID-19, and citizens and businesses alike are trying to financially recover from the effects of the pandemic,” she said. “The costs of goods and services, things like food, building materials, and gas have all sky-rocketed and a tax increase is the last thing we need right now.”