Supervisors to adopt FY15 budget tonight
by Larry Chowning
The Middlesex County Board of Supervisors will meet Thursday, April 24, at 7 p.m. at the Historic Courthouse in Saluda to adopt an FY15 county budget. The proposed budget calls for a real estate tax increase of 5 cents. The board can lower the proposed tax hike, but not raise it.
The current tax rate per $100 of assessed value is 48 cents; the proposed tax rate is 53 cents.
At an April 10 public hearing on the budget, 16 people spoke in opposition to the proposed real estate tax hike, and seven spoke in favor of the increase. Several opposed to the tax hike wanted the county to find needed funds from other sources rather than raising the real estate tax rate, which primarily affects residential property.
At the hearing, county administrator Matt Walker noted that 46% of all land in Middlesex is located in residential zones; 34% is in low density rural zones that are at least half residential; 10% is in village community, which is light commercial and residential; 4% in general business zones; 3% in waterfront commercial zones; 2% in resource husbandry zones; and 1% in conservation and light industry zones.
“One reason we have tax increases on residential real estate is because our tax base (demographics) focuses on residential use,” Walker said. He also indicated it would take major business ventures locating in Middlesex to significantly shift some of the tax burden from residential real estate.
Walker reported that by voting districts, 34% of the county’s real estate values are in Pinetop District; 23% in Saluda district and the Town of Urbanna; 19% in Hartfield District; 14% in Jamaica District; and 10% in Harmony Village District.
Walker said business real estate values make a big difference in counties such as Henrico, which have about 50% of their real estate value in residential property and the other 50% in business property. He indicated that it will take many years for that to happen in Middlesex, but the county needs to encourage more businesses to locate here.
The proposed 5-cent tax hike on real estate would generate about $1,075,000 in additional money for the county.
The largest increase ($741,000) in the proposed FY15 budget is in education. Funding this increase alone will necessitate a 3-cent real estate tax increase.
The second largest increase ($185,000) is for Middlesex’s share of funding the Middle Peninsula Regional Security Center.
The third largest increase ($134,000) is for law enforcement.