County approves highest property tax ever as city ups meals tax

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Albemarle County office building. File photo Albemarle County office building. File photo

The Albemarle Board of Supervisors voted 4-2 April 15 to raise the property tax rate by 2 cents to 81.9 cents per $100 assessed value. Chair Jane Dittmar and Ken Boyd cast the nay votes for a rate that’s a penny more than what County Exec Tom Foley asked for. The total fiscal year 2016 budget is $374,357,538.

Boyd said he opposed the raise because property taxes went up 3 cents last year, real estate appraisals have increased and water rates are going up. “It’s piling on,” he said. “I’m not convinced we’re out of the recession.” And he’s heard a lot from people on fixed incomes. “I’ve seen no concern from my colleagues, the tax-and-spend Democrats,” he said.

Supervisor Ann Mallek said she supported the increase to make “baby steps” in hiring essential staff—cops, firefighters, social workers—in a county government that lost 77 employees during the recession, as well as to service capital debt on recent building projects. She said she heard from one disappointed constituent, but more than a dozen conveyed their support. “There is a list of needs an arm’s length long,” she said.

Also on tax day, Charlottesville City Council approved its $152 million budget and a 25 percent increase in the meal tax, from 4 cents to 5 cents per dollar.

“I don’t think it’s very hospitable to tax our tourists,” said Jim Moore, chair of the Jefferson Area Tea Party. “The Tea Party feels growth in local taxes isn’t sustainable. They’re spending faster than population growth, and spending faster than inflation.”