By William J. Des Rochers, Fluvanna Field Officer
After flirting with no tax increase at all for the FY 2011 budget, Fluvanna’s Board of Supervisors on March 17th decided to increase the real estate tax rate by six cents per $100, or twelve percent. This is one penny more that the Board had previously suggested and reflects the newfound desire not to use the undesignated fund balance or savings account to fund operational expenditures.
Early in the evening of the scheduled Board meeting, and after much discussion, supervisors Chesser, Kenney, Ott, and Weaver suddenly voted to advertise a fifty-cent tax rate, unchanged from the current rate. This stunned the audience, and supervisors Booker and Gooch, who had urged tax hikes to fund schools.
Later, Ms. Booker urged reconsideration of the decision. Supervisors Chesser and Ott then supported the six-cent increase, as did Gooch and Booker (both of whom had advocated much higher rates).
The sudden reversal suggests that the earlier vote was at least in part designed to put pressure on the “left” part of the Board to compromise. Faced with the prospect of even further cuts to school funding, neither Gooch nor Booker was left with any option. The more conservative part of the Board was unwilling to support a double-digit tax increase but by the end of the evening, their votes did not matter.
Several items were left unresolved; including how much of the tax hike will be dedicated to debt repayment, if any, and the final distribution of the allocated funds to specific departments.
The advertised rate will go to Public Hearing on April 14th at a yet to be determined location.
Separately, supervisors decided to defer a decision on any water rate increase for customers of the Fork Union Sanitary District since they were split 3-3 on the decision.