Surry budget proposes car tax reduction

Published 2:49 pm Monday, May 2, 2022

Surry County has proposed reducing its car tax rate by 25 cents per $100 of assessed value.

Currently, Surry drivers pay a rate of $4 per $100 of a vehicle’s assessed value. The county’s proposed 2022-23 budget lists a rate of $3.75 per $100.

The reduction would apply only to cars, trucks and motorcycles. The $4 per $100 rate would remain for boats and business property. All other tax rates are proposed to remain unchanged.

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Despite the lower car tax rate, the county’s revenue from all general property taxes is projected to increase by $2.7 million, or 11.6%, from last year if the proposed budget is adopted. In past years, the county has seen more than half its revenue come from public service corporation taxes – mostly from Dominion’s Surry nuclear power plant.

The proposed budget totals $56.4 million, a 10.7% increase over the current year’s $50.9 million budget. Of this, $30.3 million is earmarked for the county’s general fund — a 7.4% increase over the current $28.2 million.

An additional $20.79 million is earmarked for Surry County Public Schools, in accordance with the budget Superintendent Dr. Serbrenia Sims proposed for the school system. The figure amounts to a nearly 19% increase over the school system’s current $17.49 million budget.

School officials previously stated the majority of the increase would come from an anticipated $2.6 million in grant funding. But the total school system budget also includes Sims’ requested increase from Surry’s Board of Supervisors of just over $220,000.

The county has scheduled a May 12 public hearing on the budget proposal.

If the budget passes, Surry will become the latest area locality to lower its car tax rate in the wake of a sharp rise in the value of used vehicles.

Isle of Wight County lowered its $4.50 car tax rate by 60 cents to $3.90 per $100 in March after its commissioner of the revenue, Gerald Gwaltney, said a nationwide drop in new and used vehicle inventories spurred by the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and a shortage of computer chips needed to run newer cars had triggered inflated vehicle prices, and subsequently, higher tax valuations.