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How to 'spend' the Stafford budget surplus?


Date published: 10/14/2012

I read the recent article "Stafford revenues above expectations" [Oct. 3] and was pleased to see that economic decisions by the Stafford Board of Supervisors were fruitful. It appears the race is on about how to spend any surplus. May I suggest that they lower the real-estate tax?

The real-estate tax was initially raised in reaction to the precipitous fall in real-estate values in 2010. Then the real-estate tax was 84 cents per $100 of real-estate value. In 2011 it was raised to $1.10 (a 30 percent increase). This sharp rise in the tax rate was deemed "equalization" and was meant to keep county coffers stable.

It also made homeowners pay roughly the same amount as the previous year, although the value of their homes decreased. It seemed like a good idea that would cause minimum pain to county and homeowners. To the Board of Supervisors' credit, in 2012 they lowered the real-estate tax by 1 percent (to $1.08). I suggest they continue to lower the real-estate tax rate.

Remember, the initial equalization tax rate hike resulted in a 30 percent increase. Surely as the county enjoys more economic health we can begin to "equalize" the rate down, closer to what it was in 2010.

Robert Powers

Stafford