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.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

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.