Urbanna property owners to shoulder tax hike
by Tom Chillemi
On June 16 the Urbanna Town Council adopted a 2008-09 (FY09)budget that is 25 percent higher than what was budgeted for the 2007-08 fiscal year. About $88,000 of the increase is due to anticipated legal expenses from litigation regarding the proposed Urbanna Landing condominiums. A total of $125,000 was budgeted for legal expenses. Developers sued the Town Council on June 18 seeking to have a Special Use Permit (SUP) approved and asking for $4.5 million in damages.
Urbanna’s new general fund budget is $632,725. The 2007-08 budget was $504,900.
The FY09 real estate tax rate will be 20 cents per $100 of assessed value, 3 cents less than the current rate. Despite the lower tax rate, revenue from town real estate taxes will increase by 90% due to the county-wide reassessment, which more than doubled some property values.
This increase in real estate taxes will generate $253,000, compared to $145,000 in FY08.
The meals tax is budgeted to bring in $90,000.
The personal property tax rate remains at 65 cents per $100 of value and will generate $24,000 in FY09.
Council also adopted Oyster Festival special business license fees on $450 for food concessions, $350 for non-food concessions, and $125 for handmade craft concessions—for an estimated total Oyster Festival revenue of $51,000, which is about $1,000 more than expenses.
At Urbanna’s public hearing on the 2008-09 budget, only one person— town resident Bob Calves—spoke. Calves said the town should not lose money on the Oyster Festival.
Urbanna’s new mayor, Beatrice Taylor, addressed Oyster Festival revenues and expenses during a budget work session, “The town is not making anything. The town should be getting something from it,” she said.
Calves, who ran unsuccessfully for council in May, delivered two-pages of comments, which he read to council. Calves suggested the town leave capital gains in the Taber Fund so it can grow more than it has in recent years. He also said council should take only current income from the fund, which would be about $40,000, “not $80,000, which would be tapping past capital gains.”
He said the Taber Fund is to be used for “charitable purposes” and that $80,000 is $10,000 more than the entire budget for parks and recreation.
Calves also suggested cutting $7,000 from the town marina budget.
He questioned where the $100,000 “local expenditure” for the street beautification comes from. The town recently got approval of a $250,000 grant to upgrade Virginia Street from Cross Street to the Urbanna Town Marina at Upton’s Point. The project is estimated to cost $1 million and the town’s match will be 20 percent.
The town added $100,000 to the local share in the new budget for new section of Virginia Street project. For every dollar the town contributes, the grant will pay $4.
Council also approved the $49,343 police services agreement with Middlesex County Sheriff’s Office that gives the town an extra 40 hours of police patrols per week. The state will pay $15,900 of the cost.
Town employees will receive a 2% pay raise.
Water rates remain unchanged.
In an unrelated matter, the town will be replacing 300 feet of water pipe on Watling Street from Cross Street to the curve at the Urbanna bridge. The pipe will be upgraded to 6 inches in diameter. The cost is about $18,000 for the larger pipe, which is only about $1,000 more than a 2-inch line.
Having a 6-inch pipe enables a fire hydrant to be placed on the new line. The old line has been patched several times. VDOT plans to repave the street within a few months and the town plans to have the pipe installed before the paving is started.