Two-cent tax increase approved by 3-2 vote
by Larry Chowning
The Middlesex County Board of Supervisors voted 3-2 on April 25 to raise the county real estate tax rate by 2 cents.
The new rate, 48 cents per $100 of value, will go into effect this year when taxpayers are required to pay half of their real estate tax bill by June 5.
Supervisors Wayne Jessie, Beth Hurd and Pete Mansfield voted for the tax increase, and supervisors Carlton Revere and Jack Miller opposed it.
Board chair Revere opened the budget discussion by asking for a motion on the FY14 budget, and Miller made a motion to keep the current 46-cent tax rate. Revere seconded Miller’s motion.
By a voice vote, Jessie, Hurd and Mansfield voted against the motion, and Miller and Revere voted for it.
Revere requested a second motion. Mansfield made the motion to approve a 48-cent real estate tax rate with the requirement the county hold a referendum to institute a meals tax. As part of his motion, Mansfield said if the meals tax is approved by citizens, the amount earned through that tax would be deducted from the real estate tax rate in FY15.
In the past 15 years, supervisors have twice placed the meals tax on a referendum, and Middlesex citizens have decisively voted it down both times.
Hurd questioned the legality of Mansfield’s proposed option—to tie a mandate from this year’s board into next year’s budget process. She added, however, she is not opposed to holding another meals tax referendum.
Revere twice called for a second on Mansfield’s motion, but the motion died for lack of a second.
Again Revere asked for a motion on the budget. Hurd made a motion to approve the advertised budget of $19,770,137 with a 2-cent real estate tax increase (48 cents per $100). Jessie seconded the motion.
This time Revere requested the vote be taken by roll call. Hurd and Jessie voted for it, and Revere and Miller voted against it. When Mansfield’s name was called, there was an extended pause before he voted in favor of the motion.
Throughout the meeting there was no discussion by supervisors on why they voted for or against the budget.