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Real estate tax going up one cent; personal property rate up 5 cents

by Larry Chowning

The Middlesex County Board of Supervisors voted 3-1 on Thursday, April 25, to adopt the FY20 county and school budgets for a total amount of $27,094,811.

The motion also included increasing the personal property tax rate by 5 cents on a $100 worth of value, rather than the 10 cents that had been advertised.

A one-cent tax hike on the real estate tax rate was also approved.

By lowering the proposed personal property tax rate increase to 5 cents, it decreased proposed revenues by $50,000. In order to balance the budget, the motion approved by supervisors included reducing contingency expenditures from $50,000 to $30,000; reducing the Public Access Authority (PAA) project fund by $5,000; reducing the sheriff’s contingency fund by $10,000; reducing the economic development line item by $5,000; and reducing funds to schools by $10,000.

The approval was not without discussion. Hartfield District supervisor John Koontz made a motion to accept the advertised budget that included the 10-cent increase on the personal property tax rate, and Saluda District supervisor Pete Mansfield seconded Koontz’s motion. 

Harmony Village District supervisor Kathleen Swinehart immediately said she had a “substitute motion” that set the personal property tax increase at 5 cents, instead of the 10 cents as advertised.

Board chair Chip Holt asked county attorney Heather Lewis how Roberts Rules of Order worked in this matter. She went to the rule book and determined the board needed to first hear the substitute motion; vote on whether to accept the motion for a vote; and, if approved, vote on the substitute motion. 

Koontz and Mansfield voted against accepting the substitute motion for a vote; however, Holt, Swinehart and Jamaica District supervisor Wayne Jessie voted for it. 

Swinehart’s substitute motion was then approved on a 3-1 vote with Mansfield being the only vote against. 

During supervisor comments, Koontz said teachers and county employees need at least a 2.4% raise this year to keep up with annual inflation.

He said health insurance companies are “pillaging” small counties such as Middlesex and it does not appear it is going to stop.

Koontz said the Middle Peninsula Regional Security Center needs seven nurses on staff. They currently have three. “Expenses are going to keep going up,” he said. “We are going to be right back here next year discussing how we are going to afford the same problems we have this year. They are not going to go away.”

Swinehart, Holt and Jessie indicated they felt because of the large increase in taxes to county citizens last year, taxpayers needed a break this year. 

posted 05.01.2019

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