OMT One Man's Trash...from Norman Leahy

Wednesday, March 22, 2006 :::

Across the Rivah

In the increasingly bizarre world that is Chesterfield County, the Board of Supervisors is mulling changes to its byzantine procedures for allowing residents to comment on issues.

But the real fun will come over the proposal to hike, or is it cut, real estate taxes in support of a billion dollar county budget:

Built into the budget is a 1-cent reduction from the current real estate tax rate of $1.07 per $100 of assessed value. The $1.06 rate would be reflected on tax bills to be sent out this year, if that rate is adopted as part of the budget. That reduction is part of a plan to reduce the rate five cents, to $1.02, in a few years.

Because Chesterfield residential real estate assessments rose an average of 15.3 percent during the last year, many property owners can expect a higher tax bill, even with a 1-cent rate reduction this year.

A whopping 1 cent decline. The Lord giveth a little and the Lord taketh away even more.

I blame a super-duper perfect storm of unparalleled perfection that descended on the county offices and forced - forced, I tell you - the terrified budgeteers to erect a wall of cash to keep the howling winds at bay.

Or they plan on taking a lot more chartered airplane trips to western Kansas. Maybe both.

Meanwhile, in neighboring Pohwatan County, residents are actually protesting against dramatically higher assessments and a rate reduction that doesn't come close to deflecting the blow. Naturally, there are those who say the higher rates reflect an "investment" in the future. A future for everyone but those who cannot afford to pay:

William Trivett, a retired firefighter, told the supervisors he might have to sell his property and move if the 79-cent rate is adopted April 3 because he'll be unable to pay taxes after his assessment rose from $221,800 to $493,800 in four years.

"It seems a shame to work all your life to get something, but you can't keep it," he said.

Obstructionist! How dare he stand in the way of the future!

About this time last year, the gubernatorial candidates were rolling out their plans to reign-in local property tax bills. Local governments derided the plans for various and sundry reasons and, eventually, the entire issue was dropped as the campaigns wore on.

Well, we've come full circle. Residents are still getting socked...some quite hard...and local governments are falling all over themselves to play the shell game of cutting rates but reaping substantially more revenue.

What will be interesting to see is if the House and the few bright lights in the Senate latch onto the property tax issue as a way to deflect or deflate the Kaine/Chichester tax hike proposal. Now there's an idea.

::: posted by Norman Leahy at 3/22/2006 0 comments


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