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Urbanna proposes 2-cent tax increase

by Tom Chillemi

Urbanna’s police services agreement with the Middlesex County Sheriff’s Office remains in the proposed 2009-10 (FY10) budget that the town finance committee will send to town council for its consideration.

Also proposed is a real estate tax increase of 2 cents, which would raise the rate to 22 cents per $100 of value; and raising the town meals tax and the lodging tax to 5 percent, from its current 4 percent rate.

The finance committee debated the need for a police services agreement that it has had with the Sheriff’s Office to provide an extra 40 hours of police patrols per week in town.

Sheriff Guy Abbott has agreed to absorb $7,700 in administrative and other costs so the patrols will actually cost about $4,600 less than in the current 2008-09 (FY09) budget, bringing the total cost for the extra police patrols to $47,800. That covers the cost of a deputy’s salary ($35,344), taxes, retirement and hospitalization, said town administrator Lewis Filling at the April 3 finance committee work session.

The current police services agreement, which ends on June 30, 2009, costs $53,759. The state paid $15,990 and the town paid $37,769.

In the FY10 proposed budget, the state’s share will decrease $1,400 to $14,616, and Urbanna will pay $33,184.

Finance committee chairman Bill Thrift said the police services agreement gives the sheriff’s office an extra deputy that can respond to calls county-wide.

Sheriff Abbott said on Monday that the extra deputy is needed, especially when the call volume is high.

“The town and county are trying to work with me to keep [more] deputies on the road,” said Sheriff Abbott. “These are tough economic times, but we are answering more calls than ever and the number of serious calls is up.”

Tax hike

Under the finance committee’s budget, the town’s real estate tax rate would increase 2 cents to 22 cents per $100.

The town real estate tax on a house worth $200,000 would increase $40 to $440.

Town residents also must pay the county real estate tax that is currently 35 cents per $100. Together, the total tax for Urbanna residents on real estate would be 57 cents per $100. That equals about $1,140 for a $200,000 house.

Last year the town cut the real estate tax rate from 23 cents to 20 cents due to the county-wide reassessment. However, even with the lower tax rate, the town collected more real estate tax revenue, so the 20-cent rate actually amounted to a tax increase for many town landowners.

The extra revenue was needed to fund legal fees to battle a lawsuit over the proposed condominiums at the Urbanna Yachting Center. That lawsuit is currently in the hands of a Middlesex Circuit Court Judge.

Town residents also pay county personal property taxes of $3.50 cents per $100, and a town rate of 65 cents per $100—a combined personal property tax rate of $4.15 per $100.

Thrift noted that the town’s combined real estate tax rate is still less than charged in Gloucester County (61 cents per $100).

The finance committee also cut $6,000 in contract labor to read water meters.

Mayor Beatrice Taylor noted that she and town council members will volunteer as needed to help with town-related work.

Also proposed is a water rate increase of one dollar. The minimum (under 3,000 gallons) in-town water rate would increase from $11 to $12 per month; while the out-of-town rate would go from $25 to $26 a month.

In-town users of over 3,000 gallons a month, would see their water rate increase to $2.40 per 1,000 gallons, up from $2.20.

The out-of-town rate also would increase 20 cents to $5.20 per 1,000 gallons over the 3,000 gallon minimum.

The budget includes no pay increases for town employees.

The full town council will receive the proposed budget at its April 20 meeting and possibly set a public hearing on the budget for its May meeting.

The new FY10 budget must be adopted by July 1, 2009.

posted 04.08.2009

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