A Torch is Passed and Citizens Could be Taxed

By: Erin Tate
By: Erin Tate

County administrator Dean Beler was scrutinized for never living in the county or paying taxes there. The budget faltered under his tenure and two years ago he was involved with a 37.5 percent tax hike

Tax time is here again and residents are wondering if the Board of Supervisors is planning another increase.

Bill Shuler was a little shocked when he learned how much his property was worth last month.

"I felt good. My net worth had gone up so much but I didn't want to pay taxes on the increase," he said.

A general re-assessment by Page County showed his home had increased 59 percent in value. That was much higher than the average 20 percent increase the county anticipated.

"I've had people complaining it was 60 percent higher and some said it wasn't enough and they wanted it raised," said Charlie Campbell, commissioner of revenue for Page County.

Campbell said he's gotten hundreds of complaints about the higher real estate taxes some are facing.

"They have a right to complain. They want to see their tax dollars spent wisely and they want to be treated well and they want to be heard," he said.

In a county where the citizens' wishes aren't always a priority, Campbell said it's still important for taxpayers to communicate with officials. Shuler did just that, proving his assessment was too high and he got his tax rate dropped to 25 percent.

That's still more than the state-approved one percent.

Anything more without a rate re-adjustment would mean higher taxes for Page County citizens and mandatory town hall meetings.

"In order for the board to keep from holding public hearings they'd have to adjust those rates back, I would say considerably," Campbell said.

Every four to six years all jurisdictions must re-assess county property to make sure it's at market value. It's how localities get their share of state money for schools. The re-assessment isn't supposed to impact taxes.

But in Page County it may, so a board will be available next month to field concerns from citizens. The board will make adjustments on over-valued property and set the stage for supervisors to determine if higher taxes are on their way.

50 North Main Street Harrisonburg, VA 22801 540-433-9191 - Switchboard 540-433- 4028 - Fax 540-433-2700 - News Fax

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