Valley Jurisdictions Debate Tax Increases

By: Brendan Ponton Email
By: Brendan Ponton Email

HARRISONBURG-- Several different parts of the valley are considering raising taxes, including Harrisonburg, Bridgewater, Waynesboro, and Augusta County.

Last night, Shenandoah County supervisors voted to increase the real estate tax by 3 cents.

A combination of things is fueling the possible increase in taxes. Dr. Bob Roberts, a political analyst and JMU professor, said federal cuts are having negative impacts on local school budgets.

The jurisdictions are seeing higher costs for schools because of salary raises and rising insurance costs.

Roberts said federal funds that once helped the budgets are running low. Stimulus money is no longer a big factor, and the sequestration is also taking its toll.

Local governments have to decide between raising taxes or making cuts. It's an issue that could continue into the future. "It's a continual problem right now because the federal government is not going to be giving them any money in the future, so don't expect the federal government to fund you. The state is not in that good of a situation. The state revenue picture is murky to say the least," Roberts said.

Roberts also said another factor that often gets overlooked is decreasing home values in some areas, which means assessment values have gone down. That has prompted a need to increase the real estate tax for much of the area.

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