The Albemarle County Board of Supervisors on Monday approved advertising a real estate tax rate with a possible 1.5-cent increase.
The county executive’s proposed fiscal year 2020 budget includes a recommended real estate tax rate of 85.4 cents per $100 of assessed value, a 1.5-cent increase from the current rate.
The board is scheduled to adopt a fiscal year budget and 2019 tax rate on April 16.
The proposed increase was recommended in the county executive’s budget to pay for anticipated capital projects and to support costs stemming from a 2016 bond referendum.
The $35 million bond sale paid for school capital projects, including modernization of classrooms and science labs, security improvements, a science lab addition at Western Albemarle High School and an expansion project at Woodbrook Elementary School. It was anticipated that a 1.3-cent real estate tax rate increase would be needed to support the debt service.
In 2017, reassessments increased an average of 2.9 percent, and in 2018 reassessments increased by 2.2 percent on average. Reassessments rose by an average of 4 percent this year.
The effective tax rate — the rate at which tax bills would not change, on average — would be 80.7 cents per $100 of assessed value.
Board members briefly discussed raising the proposed tax rate by 2 cents, but the idea did not have enough support for it to be advertised.
Supervisor Rick Randolph, who cast the only vote against advertising the rate at 85.4 cents, made the proposal for the additional increase. He said it would be for the “really dramatic and chronic capital needs the county is facing this year and over the next five years, and really, probably 10 years out.”
He said, specifically, he would support the money that those two cents would generate over time going toward proposed capital projects at Red Hill and Scottsville elementaries, “to address the consequences of Yancey Elementary School being closed.”
Supervisors Liz Palmer and Ann H. Mallek said they did not want to set the advertised rate at a higher amount if there wasn’t support for it to ultimately be approved.
Board Chairman Ned Gallaway said he “sort of” regretted not implementing the tax rate increase closer to when the bond referendum passed.
“Should we add the additional .5 on top of what’s already been effectively endorsed is a good way to put it,” he said.
Supervisor Diantha McKeel said she agreed.
“I do think that because we put it down the road, it’s hard for people to wrap their heads around it,” she said.
At the meeting, the board also voted 5-1 to add to the proposed budget a housing generalist and fraud investigator in the Department of Social Services, an additional police officer and a JAUNT route from Crozet. Supervisor Norman Dill voted against the changes.
The additions will have a net total cost of approximately $345,000, and the board will decide on potential funding adjustment options at a later meeting.
Supervisors are holding various town hall meetings throughout the month.
A second public hearing on the budget is scheduled for April 9.