Waynesboro looks at proposed rate increases

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WAYNESBORO, Va. (WHSV) — The city of Waynesboro is still working on their budget, and they're holding public hearings Monday and next month about some proposed tax increases.

Monday's meeting is about the proposed real property tax increase. The city is not proposing to increase the tax rate, but people could pay more because the property values in the city increased. Monday's public hearing is required by Virginia code.

According to Jim Shaw, deputy city manager, if the real estate tax rate stays at $0.90 cents per $100 of value, a $200,000 home's taxes would increase by about $126. Shaw says that number can vary, but that is a scenario based on the proposal.

For comparison, the city of Staunton's real estate tax rate is $0.97 for every $100 in value.

The city is also considering other increases as well, including an increase to personal property tax. Currently the rate is $2.50 per $100 in value, and the proposed increase is to $3.25. Shaw said Virginia code requires business personal property and personal property to be taxed at the same rate.

The current business personal property tax in Waynesboro is $5.10, so that would decrease if the increases are approved. Shaw said according to their scenarios, it would be an increase of about $150 annually on a car worth $20,000.

The city of Staunton's rate is currently $2.90 per $100. Shaw said out of all 38 cities in the state, Waynesboro would still be lower than most cities, even at $3.25.

The city is also looking at increasing water and sewer. According to a scenario from the city, there would be a $2.88 annual increase for water and $7.86 annual increase for sewer. The city will hold public hearings for the personal property tax increase and utility increases on May 13.

Shaw said the city is looking to set aside more funding for things like routine replacement of equipment and vehicles, building repairs, and other expensive items in the capital improvement plan.

Shaw added that even though the city saw an increase in property tax values, they also have an increase in expenses. Shaw said there are increases as part of their partnership in Middle River Regional Jail, social services, and to the school system, among others.

Shaw added that city wages are not competitive, so they hope to increase them.

"Trying to secure, attract and retain police officers, firefighters, and public works employees, we're having to raise compensation."

We spoke with some city residents as well, who had mixed opinions on the proposed increases. A few residents did not mind the increases.

One resident said they were on a fixed income, but still wouldn't mind paying because they valued all the services the city offers, and thinks they do a good job with maintenance in the city.

Another resident hopes more money can be put into the schools to help with improvements there.

However, one resident opposed the proposed increases, saying it can be hard to afford them on a fixed income.

On May 13, city council will have a public hearing on several of the increases, as well as for the proposed budget.