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Board proposes 5-cent tax hike

by Larry Chowning

The Middlesex County Board of Supervisors voted 3-2 Tuesday to hold a public hearing on the county’s proposed 2014-15 (FY15) budget on Thursday, April 10, at 7 p.m. at the historic courthouse in Saluda.

A 5-cent increase in the county’s real estate tax is included in the proposal. The current tax rate per $100 of value is 48 cents; the proposed rate is 53 cents.

The proposed FY15 budget totals $21,294,176, of which $14,414,565 is for county schools. This includes local, state and federal funds.

Supervisors Pete Mansfield and Bob LeBoeuf were in favor of advertising the budget with a 4-cent tax increase on real estate. Board chair Jack Miller voted for the 5-cent increase along with supervisors Wayne Jessie and Beth Hurd.

Miller noted the board can vote to lower the 5-cent tax hike, but cannot raise it. A penny on the assessed value of real estate generates about $215,000 in revenue. If approved, the 5-cent increase would generate about $1,075,000, and would represent about a 10% tax increase on real estate.

The county’s total FY15 budget is up $1,524,039—an 8% jump over FY14.

The largest increase in the FY15 proposed budget is in education. During FY14, $7.5 million in county funds were budgeted for education. In the FY15 budget, the proposed county funding for education is $8.2 million, an increase of $741,000 in county funds. Funding this increase alone will necessitate a 3-cent real estate tax hike.

The second largest increase is for Middlesex’s share of funding the Middle Peninsula Regional Security Center in Saluda. In FY14, $744,000 was budgeted. In FY15, $929,000 is budgeted—a jump of $185,000.

Middlesex now has the highest number of inmates in the jail, which means the county must pay a larger share of the overall cost of operating the facility.

The third largest increase in the budget proposal is for law enforcement, up $134,000 over the current $1.4 million.

At an earlier meeting, county administrator Matt Walker stated that revenues generated by a 4-cent real estate tax increase, in addition to approximately $300,000 generated by the new county meals tax, would be enough to balance the FY15 budget.

Walker indicated Tuesday that the revenue generated ($215,00) by an extra penny on the increase could be used for much-needed county capital improvements.

A copy of the proposed budget is on page B7 inside this issue of the Southside Sentinel. It is also open for public review at the county administrator’s office in Saluda and online at http://www.co.middlesex.va.us.

Read the rest of this story in this week’s Southside Sentinel at newstands throughout the county, or sign up here to receive a print and/or electronic pdf subscription.

posted 04.02.2014

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