No property tax rate increase in Charlottesville this year; staff suggests one is likely next year

Council also held its first public hearing on City Manager Chip Boyles’ recommended $190.7 million budget for Fiscal Year 22. Before that, Boyles said revenue projections for next year are up slightly.

“This amount is being recommended to increase by $1,260,307 to a total of $191,950,146, still less than a one percent change,” Boyles said. 

As of Monday, Boyles did not have a final amount for how much funding the city will receive through the American Rescue Plan, but that the city expected over $10 million and did not yet know what restrictions would be on those. When this information is known, staff will present an amended recommended budget. 

There were actually two opportunities for the public to comment on the budget, but first, a public hearing on the tax rate, which is recommended to remain at 95 cents per $100 of assessed value. 

Only one person spoke. Jeff Fogel called for a steep increase in the tax rate and increases in tax relief programs for those who can’t afford the higher payments. 

“We need this money to provide the services to make this a real, decent community which it isn’t for so much of the population, and you know that!” Fogel said. “I’m not talking about two percent, five percent, ten percent. We’re talking about some substantial amount. You have more people moving down here from the northeast who are paying extraordinary taxes who see this as a gift to them when they’re only paying 95 cents on a dollar.” 

Based on current economics, every penny increase on the tax rate would bring in an additional $845,000 in revenue for the city and the current formula allocated 40 percent of new revenues to the school system. That amount also does not include whatever would need to be paid out through the Charlottesville Housing Affordability Program in the form of rebate checks. The proposed budget for FY22 includes $965,000 for that purpose, as well as various tax relief programs. 

Details on page 124 of the budget PDF, or H-19

In his comments, Boyles said there would likely be a need for a tax increase next year. Vice Mayor Sena Magill understood. 

“I am expecting that taxes will need to be raised next year and it’s good that we’re already bringing this up now so that it doesn’t take people by surprise next year,” Magill said.

Councilor Michael Payne also addressed the issue.  

“Over the next budget cycle as we look at our commitments, there’s no way around the need for revenue increases,” Payne said. 

Mayor Walker said before the city increases taxes, Council must determine whether money is being spent efficiently. 

“It’s also key for people to trust the process when we say the only alternative is increases,” Walker said. 

The public hearing for the final budget will be held on April 5. At this one, for the first public hearing, go and review the video from the Council meeting. After this was recorded, there was a community budget forum on Wednesday. Council will have a budget work session on March 25 at which time the capital budget will be discussed.   That’s when we might learn more about the West Main Streetscape.   

Before you go: The time to write and research of this article is covered by paid subscribers to Charlottesville Community Engagement. In fact, this particular installment comes from the March 21, 2021 edition of the program. To ensure this research can be sustained, please consider becoming a paid subscriber or contributing monthly through Patreon.

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