state of the city report - one of a series of five
Coalition, Inc. (CACI) is developing a “State of the City of Virginia
Beach” series of public discussions.
At the invitation of the Virginia Beach Taxpayers Alliance, CACI
held the kickoff session Saturday October the 25th.
This meeting, the first of five sessions, concerned real estate
assessments and taxes and answered the question “Is there any relief
from our already burdensome real estate taxes?”
CACI pointed out that
state law allows Virginia Beach to assess real estate every two years.
We reminded the audience (as if anyone really needed to be
reminded) that our city council has assessed real estate each and every
year for as long as we can remember. Then CACI asked the question, “Because council assessed all
property this past year, does that mean we get a bye next year?”
After the derisive laughter subsided, every one agreed that if
there were an assessment next year, it would be because the City Council
of Virginia Beach wants it.
After each assessment,
council must review the real estate tax rate.
CACI quoted state law to show that the increase in real estate
taxes may not exceed 1% over the previous year. That is, if the current
tax rate applied to the new assessment shows an increase greater than 1%
over last year the council MUST reduce the rate so that the increase is
less than 1%. Council, as directed by state law, computed (last May) a
lowered rate of approximately $1.15 down from $1.22.
The law also states
that Council must conduct a public hearing and then is free to set the
real estate tax rate as council decides. (The public hearings were held
in April and May prior to voting on the new budget and tax rate.) After
the public hearings, council had a number of options.
Our city council could have reduced the tax rate even more,
maintained the lowered rate, or set the rate to any value. Council voted
to increase the real estate tax rate to $1.22.
CACI emphasized that by voting to increase the real estate tax
rate our council is clearly responsible for the increase in your real
CACI reviewed four
issues to help determine the possibility of any relief from continuing
real estate tax increases. First,
the city five year forecast shows expenditures increasing over the years
with the operating budget reaching $1.5 billion by 2008 up from the
current $1.3 billion. Second, there is no population growth to share the
pain. Third, city debt is increasing. Fourth, council is pushing ahead
with the very expensive major projects.
CACI demonstrated two
very important conclusions: One, our city council and only our city
council is responsible for the increase in our real estate taxes. Two,
without a reduction in spending there is NO RELIEF from our already
burdensome real estate taxes.
So taxpayer, what are you going to do about it?