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Spotsy budget rising despite lower home values
The Spotsylvania Board of Supervisors gets its first look at the county's proposed 2012-13 budget.


Date published: 2/15/2012

BY JEFF BRANSCOME

Real-estate taxes could increase for about 56 percent of Spotsylvania County homeowners, based on the county administrator's proposed 2012-13 budget presented Tuesday night.

The rest of the county's homeowners would see no change or a decrease in those taxes.

But that's only if the county Board of Supervisors--the majority of whom campaigned on lower taxes last year--agree to setting an equalized real-estate tax rate of 90 cents per $100 of assessed property value.

Supervisor Paul Trampe, who took office last month, said he would like to approve a tax rate below the equalized rate. Other supervisors didn't comment on the issue during the meeting.

County Administrator Doug Barnes' $450.6 million spending plan recommends the equalized rate, which is 4 cents more than the current rate of 86 cents.

The increase is necessary to generate 1 percent more revenue for the county than it received in 2011-12. This year's countywide reassessment dropped overall home values by about 2 percent. Commercial values have declined by about 9 percent since 2010.

The assessed values of 66 percent of homes decreased; 25 percent increased; and 9 percent stayed the same.

State law requires the county to advertise the equalized tax rate after properties are assessed. That rate would generate $105.1 million for Spotsylvania, or $1.5 million more than the county estimates it will collect for the fiscal year that ends June 30.

Each penny on the tax rate equals about $1.2 million.

The average Spotsylvania home was assessed at $173,839 in 2011 and $169,933 in 2012.

An owner of that house would pay $1,529, or $34 more, in real-estate taxes under the equalized rate.

In fact, of the homeowners whose tax bills would go up, 75 percent would have no more than a $200 increase. County officials calculated that 21 percent would see an increase of $201-$500, and 3.8 percent would see a jump of more than $500.

Most commercial taxpayers--almost 84 percent--would pay the same or less in real-estate taxes.

BUDGET INCREASE

Barnes' $450.6 million recommended budget is about $43 million, or 10.6 percent, more than the 2011-12 spending plan. The total includes operating and capital costs.

The increase, Barnes said, is deceptive.


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The proposed 2012-13 Spotsylvania County budget calls for an equalized tax rate of 90 cents per $100 of assessed property value in the fiscal year beginning July 1.

Here are some highlights:

The equalized tax rate is 4 cents more than the current 86 cent levy. This year's countywide reassessment dropped overall home values by about 2 percent. Commercial values have declined by about 9 percent since 2010. The equalized levy generates 1 percent more revenue for the county than it received in 2011-12.

The $450.6 million recommended budget is about $43 million, or 10.6 percent, more than the 2011-12 spending plan. The total includes operating and capital costs.

$114.8 million in local funding for schools. That's the same amount the division received in 2011-12.

$11.4 million in expenses come from the county's reserves, which is a 2.1 percent increase from last year.

$315,500 for 5.12 full-time positions and seven part-time jobs.

$1.1 million for 2 percent cost-of-living pay increases for government employees.

79 percent of the budget is for mandated services.

WHAT'S AHEAD?

The Board of Supervisors will have a work session 6 p.m. next Tuesday in the Holbert Building. They will decide what tax rate to advertise.

A public hearing on the budget and tax rate is set for March 29.

Supervisors are scheduled to approve the budget April 10.