Surry adopts $42M budget, 72-cent real estate tax
Published 6:46 pm Monday, June 27, 2022
Eight days ahead of a looming June 30 deadline, Surry County supervisors adopted a $42.2 million 2022-23 budget, one that no longer includes a proposed car tax rate reduction.
Currently, Surry drivers pay a rate of $4 per $100 of a vehicle’s assessed value. County Administrator Melissa Rollins had recommended in May that Surry lower its tax on cars, trucks and motorcycles to $3.75 per $100 in light of a sharp nationwide rise in used vehicle values.
According to Supervisor Michael Drewry, keeping the car tax rate at $4 is necessary to offset reducing the county’s real estate tax rate to 72 cents.
Rollins had proposed lowering the real estate tax rate from the current 77 cents per $100 in assessed value to provide relief to homeowners, some of whom reported seeing five- and six-figure increases in their home valuations. Leaving the rate at 77 cents under the inflated valuations would have imposed an “effective tax rate” increase of 7 cents, Rollins said, since a rate of 70 cents under the new assessments would have brought in the same revenue as last year’s 77-cent rate.
She’d initially proposed a 75-cent rate in May, then 74 cents, but that wasn’t enough to win over Supervisor Timothy Calhoun, who deadlocked with his fellow supervisors June 6 by holding out for 71 cents or 72 cents.
At the June 6 meeting, Chairwoman Judy Lyttle and Supervisor Robert Elliott had been prepared to overrule Calhoun’s objections with a 2-1 vote on the 74-cent rate, but state law requires a majority of the entire board — not just the members present — to pass a budget. With one of the board’s five seats vacant at the time and Drewry absent, the 2-1 split failed to carry.
Despite having been the one to push for 72 cents, Calhoun still cast a “no” vote on the car tax compromise to achieve a 72-cent real estate rate. But by that date — June 22 — the board had appointed Janet Monahan to fill former Vice Chairman Ronald Howell Jr.’s vacated seat and Drewry had returned, giving the board the 4-1 majority it needed to approve the proposed budget.
Rollins had initially proposed a roughly $56 million budget in May. According to Drewry, the specified $42.2 million the board ultimately adopted is not a reduction, but rather the remainder, since the board had previously voted on June 6 to allocate $12.8 million as its local contribution to Surry County Public Schools.