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Board of Supervisors approves advertised tax rate

The Pulaski County Board of Supervisors Monday decided to advertise for a 12-cent reduction in the current real estate rate for the upcoming fiscal year, but the true rate will not be set until March 23.
During a special called meeting held Monday afternoon, the supervisors voted 4-1 to set the advertised real estate rate at 50 cents per $100 of assessed value. The rate was four cents below the rate recommended by County Administrator Peter Huber.
Huber told the supervisors the equalized rate under the new real estate reassessments will be somewhere in the area of 46 to 48 cents per $100 of value. However, he indicated the exact amount won’t be known until the Board of Equalization sets the final values on appealed assessments.
The equalized (lowered tax) rate is the rate that would bring in the same amount of revenue under the new assessed values as was collected under the old assessments.
Although Huber said he believes the county could get by for one year under the equalized rate, it would leave no room for unexpected reductions in revenue.
At the beginning of the meeting, Huber provided the board with an overview of the county’s cash balance, which he called “healthy.”
He pointed out that the county was close to dipping into its required 10 percent of reserved funds around 2005 to 2006, but since that time, it has seen an increase in its cash balance to provide an extra cushion.
That cushion, he noted, allows the county to absorb unexpected expenses without having to increase real estate taxes.
He said he prefers not to use the cash balance to meet budgetary requirements, if possible.
“The county is going into this (tough economic times) with a good financial situation,” he told the supervisors.
Although the county doesn’t yet have all the information needed to determine what real estate rate would be needed in the upcoming fiscal year, Huber said it is necessary to select a rate to advertise in order to meet advertising requirements for a Feb. 23 public hearing on the proposed rate.
He pointed out that the supervisors can later choose to impose a rate lower than the advertised rate, but it cannot approve a higher rate.
Huber said he was recommending a 54-cent rate be advertised to give the county some leeway in the event state funding cuts are higher than expected.
“We need to be careful,” in determining an advertised rate, Massie District Supervisor Frank Conner said. “We don’t need to set it at more than we need, but we do need to set it at a rate we can live on.”
Huber said he chose to recommend a 54-cent advertised rate because it was a split between the potential equalized rate of 46 cents and the current rate of 62 cents.
Due to the economic downturn, he suggested the board might want to set a rate that would allow for enough funds to include any new construction desired.
He said jobs recently quoted came in “significantly below” estimates, so it is a good time to move forward with construction projects.
However, Robinson District Supervisor Charles Bopp said he believes it would “send the wrong message” to county citizens to adopt a real estate rate above what the county needs and then start building.
“Things aren’t good for anybody right now,” he added.
Draper District Supervisor Dean Pratt pointed out that figures provided to the board show a 54-cent real estate rate would reflect a 25 percent change for his constituents.
“I think it was about that much last time (a reassessment was conducted),” Pratt said. “I thought that was supposed to give us the money we needed for projects and we wouldn’t have to raise the rates for a long time. I’d rather see it closer to 46 cents.”
Ingles District Supervisor Ranny Akers and Board Chairman Joe Sheffey pointed out that the rate being set Monday is merely an advertised rate that would allow the leeway in the event it is determined the county needs a higher rate than is anticipated at this point.
“If we set (the advertised rate) at 46 cents and we need 48 cents, we can’t do it,” Akers said.
Sheffey said he is concerned with what cuts the Virginia General Assembly might make. He said the group is scheduled for a short session this time, but Conner pointed out the assembly never has a short session anymore (referring to the fact the short sessions have been extended numerous times).
The board chairman said he hopes this session will truly be short so the county will have some idea of what cuts will be coming from the state before setting a new rate.
Nonetheless, Sheffey said, they need to leave enough cushion in the advertised rate to cover state funding losses.
“What concerns me is if we advertise 46 cents and the General Assembly makes more cuts (than expected) and we have to start making (budget) cuts.”
Huber told Sheffey he anticipates some cuts will be needed within the budget even if the rate is set at 54 cents.
Sheffey asked if anyone would like to make a motion to set the advertised rate at 54 cents.
No one responded.
Huber reminded the board that he recommended 54 cents in an effort to keep the county from dipping into its reserve funds. “We just don’t know where the bottom is right now,” he added.
Conner noted that it is hard to pay back reserves once they’re spent.
“What if we’re worse off next year than we are this year?,” Akers asked. “There are so many unknowns at this point and I don’t see the economy turning around real soon.”
Conner said his concern is that once the advertised rate is set at 54 cents, the board will have a tendency to make that the final rate.
“We’re going to have to tighten our belt when we go through the budget process, but right now we don’t know what we’re working with,” Akers said before making a motion to set the advertised rate at 50 cents.
Conners seconded the motion, saying “that’s a start.”
“We have to go somewhere, but I don’t think it will be set that high,” Akers noted.
Only Bopp voted against the motion.

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Board of Supervisors approves advertised tax rate

The Pulaski County Board of Supervisors Monday decided to advertise for a 12-cent reduction in the current real estate rate for the upcoming fiscal year, but the true rate will not be set until March 23.
During a special called meeting held Monday afternoon, the supervisors voted 4-1 to set the advertised real estate rate at 50 cents per $100 of assessed value. The rate was four cents below the rate recommended by County Administrator Peter Huber.
Huber told the supervisors the equalized rate under the new real estate reassessments will be somewhere in the area of 46 to 48 cents per $100 of value. However, he indicated the exact amount won’t be known until the Board of Equalization sets the final values on appealed assessments.
The equalized (lowered tax) rate is the rate that would bring in the same amount of revenue under the new assessed values as was collected under the old assessments.
Although Huber said he believes the county could get by for one year under the equalized rate, it would leave no room for unexpected reductions in revenue.
At the beginning of the meeting, Huber provided the board with an overview of the county’s cash balance, which he called “healthy.”
He pointed out that the county was close to dipping into its required 10 percent of reserved funds around 2005 to 2006, but since that time, it has seen an increase in its cash balance to provide an extra cushion.
That cushion, he noted, allows the county to absorb unexpected expenses without having to increase real estate taxes.
He said he prefers not to use the cash balance to meet budgetary requirements, if possible.
“The county is going into this (tough economic times) with a good financial situation,” he told the supervisors.
Although the county doesn’t yet have all the information needed to determine what real estate rate would be needed in the upcoming fiscal year, Huber said it is necessary to select a rate to advertise in order to meet advertising requirements for a Feb. 23 public hearing on the proposed rate.
He pointed out that the supervisors can later choose to impose a rate lower than the advertised rate, but it cannot approve a higher rate.
Huber said he was recommending a 54-cent rate be advertised to give the county some leeway in the event state funding cuts are higher than expected.
“We need to be careful,” in determining an advertised rate, Massie District Supervisor Frank Conner said. “We don’t need to set it at more than we need, but we do need to set it at a rate we can live on.”
Huber said he chose to recommend a 54-cent advertised rate because it was a split between the potential equalized rate of 46 cents and the current rate of 62 cents.
Due to the economic downturn, he suggested the board might want to set a rate that would allow for enough funds to include any new construction desired.
He said jobs recently quoted came in “significantly below” estimates, so it is a good time to move forward with construction projects.
However, Robinson District Supervisor Charles Bopp said he believes it would “send the wrong message” to county citizens to adopt a real estate rate above what the county needs and then start building.
“Things aren’t good for anybody right now,” he added.
Draper District Supervisor Dean Pratt pointed out that figures provided to the board show a 54-cent real estate rate would reflect a 25 percent change for his constituents.
“I think it was about that much last time (a reassessment was conducted),” Pratt said. “I thought that was supposed to give us the money we needed for projects and we wouldn’t have to raise the rates for a long time. I’d rather see it closer to 46 cents.”
Ingles District Supervisor Ranny Akers and Board Chairman Joe Sheffey pointed out that the rate being set Monday is merely an advertised rate that would allow the leeway in the event it is determined the county needs a higher rate than is anticipated at this point.
“If we set (the advertised rate) at 46 cents and we need 48 cents, we can’t do it,” Akers said.
Sheffey said he is concerned with what cuts the Virginia General Assembly might make. He said the group is scheduled for a short session this time, but Conner pointed out the assembly never has a short session anymore (referring to the fact the short sessions have been extended numerous times).
The board chairman said he hopes this session will truly be short so the county will have some idea of what cuts will be coming from the state before setting a new rate.
Nonetheless, Sheffey said, they need to leave enough cushion in the advertised rate to cover state funding losses.
“What concerns me is if we advertise 46 cents and the General Assembly makes more cuts (than expected) and we have to start making (budget) cuts.”
Huber told Sheffey he anticipates some cuts will be needed within the budget even if the rate is set at 54 cents.
Sheffey asked if anyone would like to make a motion to set the advertised rate at 54 cents.
No one responded.
Huber reminded the board that he recommended 54 cents in an effort to keep the county from dipping into its reserve funds. “We just don’t know where the bottom is right now,” he added.
Conner noted that it is hard to pay back reserves once they’re spent.
“What if we’re worse off next year than we are this year?,” Akers asked. “There are so many unknowns at this point and I don’t see the economy turning around real soon.”
Conner said his concern is that once the advertised rate is set at 54 cents, the board will have a tendency to make that the final rate.
“We’re going to have to tighten our belt when we go through the budget process, but right now we don’t know what we’re working with,” Akers said before making a motion to set the advertised rate at 50 cents.
Conners seconded the motion, saying “that’s a start.”
“We have to go somewhere, but I don’t think it will be set that high,” Akers noted.
Only Bopp voted against the motion.

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