Tax hike to fund budget increase

Published 5:33 pm Tuesday, May 14, 2019

By Diana McFarland

Managing editor

The Isle of Wight County Board of Supervisors approved its $78 million fiscal 2020 operating budget Thursday, which includes the equivalent of a 2.7-cent tax increase.

The Board had debated whether or not to keep the additional revenue generated by the recent property assessment, but could not find an palatable way to trim the $1.2 million it would take to keep the budget revenue neutral. 

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If the Board had opted to remain revenue neutral — that is, not keep the additional reassessment revenue — it would have had to lower the real estate tax rate by 3 cents.

Instead, the Board kept the real estate tax rate at 85 cents per $100 in assessed value. {mprestriction ids=”1,2,3,4,5,6″}

The Board appeared pleased that its cost to run government hasn’t gone up as much as other localities. 

Board Chairman William McCarty said the Hampton Roads Planning District Commission estimated that the cost to run government had increased by 15 percent, but Isle of Wight was up only 4.2 percent.

“We are nowhere near 15 percent,” said McCarty at a recent work session.

Smithfield District Supervisor Dick Grice agreed.

“We’ve done a lot of hard work,” he said. 

Also included in the budget was a 5-percent water rate hike to $11.20 per 1,000 gallons for up to 50,000 gallons and a 2-percent cost of living pay increase for county employees.

The Board also passed its fiscal 2020-25 capital improvement plan, as well as its $6 million capital budget for the upcoming fiscal year. 

Included in the capital budget for fiscal 2020 is $808,700 for fire and rescue medic and engine replacements, $2 million for the Route 10 water line extension, $1 million for school roofing projects and $950,000 for preliminary design work on Hardy Elementary School.

The Board, however, is looking into the advantages of either renovating the nearly 60-year old school or replacing it, and recently engaged a third party contractor to look at both options. 

Meanwhile, the Board wants something to be done about the school’s bathrooms, which have been repeatedly reported to not work or overflow.

“The bathrooms have got to be addressed, there’s no question,” said Grice.

Windsor District Supervisor Joel Acree wondered why this problem hasn’t so far been addressed. 

Grice appeared frustrated about the entire bathroom situation.

“Our job isn’t to run the schools, our job is to fund the schools … and make sure it is used wisely,” he said.  {/mprestriction}