Dahl proposed one-cent increase on real estate tax

By Heather Michon

County Administrator Eric Dahl unveiled a $84.5 million budget proposal for Fiscal Year 2021 (FY21).

Dahl told the Board of Supervisors on Wednesday night (Feb. 5) that overall expenditures were projected to be $1.78 million higher than FY20, for a total increase of 2%.

To fund the increase, he proposed a one-cent increase on the real estate tax, while keeping personal property, business, and other local taxes at their current rates.

If supervisors were to approve the rate, the average household would see a 1.08% increase in their tax bill.

Dahl said there were “difficult decisions” to be made as the county moves ahead. Key stressors include the rising costs of goods and services, possible major increases in health insurance for county employees, and potential major expenditures for county fire and rescue services.

With the proposed budget as a starting point, supervisors will spend the next several weeks in work sessions and hearings to come up with a finalized budget by mid-April.

County line

During their regular meeting, supervisors heard a presentation on resolving a boundary mapping issue along the county line between Fluvanna and Louisa counties.

Localities use mapping software, called GIS, to draw their official maps. But when it comes to defining the border between different localities, there can be discrepancies.

Dahl presented a map showing where Louisa County’s GIS puts the county line and where Fluvanna’s GIS places it. The two lines do not always overlap.

The gap is small, in most places differing by only a hundred yards or less. However, because these maps are used to define where a property-owner votes, pays taxes, goes to school, and files lawsuits, it is important for localities to define the line as clearly as possible.

Rather than undertake a costly and time-consuming ground survey, the counties are looking at simply coming to an agreement on the exact location of the border. Dahl said they would focus on making a minimal impact on the 120 or so properties that lay along the disputed line.

Assistant County Administrator Kelly Belanger Harris said that after the counties come to an agreement, each would have to publish ads announcing the change, hold public meetings, officially notify affected property-holders, adopt resolutions, and have it finalized by the circuit courts.

In other matters:

  • Everett Hannah of the Board of Equalization (BOE) made a brief presentation on the board’s work over the past year. The BOE is responsible for handling disputes over real estate tax assessments to assure that the tax is equally applied to all property-owners. In 2019, they looked at 39 cases, reducing the tax in three of those cases, and raising it in one case. Hannah said they could expect a busy year ahead, as a new assessment is underway and “when assessments go up, people always have questions.”
  • Human Resources Director Jessica Rice said the county is already seeing savings on HVAC labor costs since a staff technician came on board in November. Previously, the county had contracted for labor on all HVAC systems.
  • Economic Development Coordinator Bryan Rothamel gave a presentation on a $25,000 grant package offered by a North Carolina-based consulting firm. Rothamel said it would be an opportunity to tackle a project the county normally wouldn’t have the money to develop. He was looking at submitting multiple proposals, including “Project Fluvanna,” a program to create a pipeline between Fluvanna County High School and Fluvanna-based businesses, and “Fork Union 2030,” a revitalization program for the village of Fork Union.

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