The Board of Supervisors approved an 11-cent increase on the real estate tax rate Tuesday night, but they weren’t thrilled about it.
Eight cents of the increase will fund renovations to Caroline High School and Madison Elementary—projects voters endorsed in last fall’s bond referendum. The other three cents will pay for the county’s new radio system.
This brings Caroline County’s real estate tax rate to 83 cents per $100 of assessed valuation.
“It’s a difficult situation to be in, and I personally regret having to put the citizens of the county in that position, but it can’t be helped,” Port Royal Supervisor Calvin Taylor commented.
The board also approved an $85.3 million budget for Fiscal Year 2015, which mostly follows the original proposal set forth by County Administrator Charles Culley last month.
Culley had then recommended a 12-cent real estate tax rate increase. Due to bond refinancing and changes in Aqua Virginia’s plans for the Lake Caroline water system, the board was able to shave a penny off the hike.
Most departments are flat-funded compared to the current year, the exception being the public school system.
The schools received a boost of roughly $364,000—which was still $2.8 million short of what the School Board had requested.
“That’s just not realistic when we’re putting down an 11-cent tax increase,” Western Caroline Supervisor Jeff Black said.
“Have (the schools) been under-funded for a very long time? Absolutely,” Black added. “So I think that we need to sit down with them and have a continued dialogue with them on how we can better serve them.”
Reedy Church Supervisor Reginald Underwood said he would like to have given all departments additional funds, “but there’s just not enough money in the budget.”
Madison Supervisor Wayne Acors said the county gave the Department of Fire and Rescue $50,000 when he joined the board in 1988.
“Today we invest $4 million into Fire and Rescue, and that’s just one area. So yes, we need to do more. … Let’s not lose sight of the fact that we haven’t just done nothing. We have come a long way,” Acors said.
Culley showed the board statistics on real estate tax rates and median home values going back to 2004.
According to those figures, in 2010, when the tax rate was 53 cents, the median single-family residence and land value was $214,500 and was charged $1,136.85 in real estate taxes.
Now, the median home value has fallen to $143,500. At the 83-cent rate, that tax bill comes to $1,191.05.