Council Nixes Tax Rebate Idea

Seth Rosen writes in the Progress that two councilors’ plans for a tax rebate were shot down by Council last night. Dave Norris and Julian Taliaferro proposes giving back the $1M excess in property taxes to all 14k property owners, or ~$75/person. City staff explained what would go into the process, including getting the social security number for every property owner and finding what’s become of those who sold their homes during the year and giving them pro-rated checks. Norris agreed that it seemed like more trouble than it’s worth, and figures it’s best to put the money into the city’s tax relief program for low-income residents.

Council also turned down a school request for $1.58M for new technology and instructed staff to make next year’s budget no more than 5% larger than the current budget.

45 thoughts on “Council Nixes Tax Rebate Idea”

  1. If next year’s budget is no more than 5% of this year’s $134.7M, will next year’s 5% include the $6.7M already collected and not in this year’s budget, OR, is next year’s budget to be 5% over this year’s $134.7M $6.7M?

  2. The city wouldn’t need a social security number. I damn sure wouldn’t pay taxes AGAIN on a $75 rebate. I’ve already paid taxes on the $75 before I overpaid it to the city. The bottom line is I’m paying my taxes as usual, and I am helping to pay somebody else’s taxes now with their proposed solution. You really gotta love the city. I guess it was way too simple to simply give people a $75 on their next tax bill.

  3. I assume the city needs the SSN to report it to the IRS because if the homeowner itemized deductions, and the property tax was part of the deductions, then the IRS would want that backed out in the year the refund was received – just like you need to do with the state income tax refund. (It also means you didn’t pay taxes on it.)

    As far as just giving a $75 discount on the next year’s taxes, that would have the discount potentially going to people who didn’t pay the tax. (New owners in particular.)

    I was more surprised to see how little is being put in to the need to upgrade the sewer system. The talk of add-on fees to fund that in the coming years makes no sense.

    I’d say put it all in the capital improvement fund, and fund the sewer system upgrade (which is certainly a capital improvement) out of that.

    Does anyone know if approving the Smith Pool work means we’re not going to do the YMCA deal? I thought one justification for that was the cost of maintaining the city’s pools.

  4. According to the Progress “The city’s plan is to shutter Crow Pool and rebuild Smith at Buford Middle School. Councilors may decide as soon as next month whether to allow the local branch of the YMCA to build an athletics and aquatics facility on three to five acres in McIntire Park”!news
    It seems to me Council is attacking this recreational issue piecemeal.
    It’s interesting, too, that 5% of $134.7M is $6.7M which means Council has authorized next year’s budget to be no greater than $141.4M, but the actual spending will be $148.1M (including this year’s surplus) which is actually a 10% increase in spending on top of the 12% increase this year. This is definitely a model of fiscal conservatism.

  5. Mark, you’re probably right on the tax thing. I hadn’t thought it all the way out. My bad!
    And MarkS, why not all city employees? Why does everybody always single out police officers as a needy cause? How about public works employees? They need assistance in the salary range more than police officers do. Why not firefighters? While I hope to never need them, I’ll bet my last dime firefighters would be here 5 times faster than a police officer. I just don’t get it, why so many people worship police officers. And if you think the Silva/Austin allegations of police brutality were bad, just wait till you see the next tale coming down the pike. I don’t want to steal the thunder from the media outlet that’s presently composing the story. It’s another shocker!!

  6. At a recent city council meeting (???) I think I recall a Naomi Roberts (Administrative Secretary to police chief — retired) urging the city to toss any surplus money in the direction of police officers. While I think the world of Naomi Roberts and everything she has ever stood for, her pleas of tossing more moey to police officers would mean much more to me if her son wasn’t a police officer. She was basically and indirectly asking the city to give her son more money in my opinion.

  7. Instead of the police, I’d rather see the city slide the extra cash to teachers.

    I’ll be sure to write from Gitmo.

  8. Well Demopub, maybe her son has to commute 30 miles a day to work in CVille. And since the price of gas is going up, it might not be worth working for Cville since on his salary he can’t afford to live here. But then again, what do i know.

    I say we should use the surplus on either more studies on why we shouldn’t have a parkway or more road art. Heck, maybe they should invested the surplus in conducting studies if we need MORE art on the side of the roads?

  9. Her son lives off Rio Road in a $300,000 home and has a take home car. He doesn’t have to pay for gas.

  10. So now if you make a comment at City Council your family’s assets are public record? Noami served the City for a long time, I doubt very seriously she was specifically advocating for her son, but for the officers on the street every day.

    I am glad the rebate is off the table, it would cost more to administer than we would receive. Let’s reduce the tax rate and spend less. Also include all items in the budget so we arent surprised by an increase in utility costs after the taxes on our homes increase overall.

  11. Every year, Council has three separate procedures for allocating money. In the Spring, the Council, staff and public go through a two-month budget process that allocates over $100M, including a pot of money called “Council Reserve.” The public has a decent period of time it can look at the proposed budget and make comments through a public hearing, email mail and a Council-sponsored meeting at Buford School. During the year, the Council spends the money in the Council Reserve on its favorite projects with little public notice or comment. It’s usually a perk for Council’s friends. Then, the end of the year, Council gets to spend its revenue surplus with little opportunity for direct public input (the public hearing for that $6.7M has been held). This year, fortunately, the surplus was declared in November and not December and the public has a little more time to give input. Unfortunately, the Council Reserve and year-end surplus still does not get the same public scrutiny the $100M gets. What often goes ignored are the unfunded or under-funded requests that were considered the previous Spring that were given some sort of priority for discussion. It would be great, if during the process of year-end adjustment, Council would also have a discussion of the issues of the previous Spring in the context of current priorities.

  12. Jennifer, its not really about City Council meetings. City and county tax assessments are available online. It’s public record. You can look up the city manager’s home, valued at $394,000. The chief of police, $380,800. Circuit Court clerk, $450,900. Councilman Taliaferro, $597,000. They’re all there in the public records.

  13. Demopublican,

    The only reason to single out police officers is that we can’t seem to fill the positions at the current salary.

  14. Cynic, I honestly think it’s a little more complicated than just what people keep calling a “low starting salary.” The city and county had no trouble whatsoever attracting qualified applicants 15 to 25 years ago. And the salaries were just as low back then. I vividly recall there being 100 applicants for 2 or 3 job openings back in the early 80s, and perhaps as late as into the early 90s. The sheriffs and police chiefs were able to hire the best of the best back then to fill these 2 or 3 openings each year. And those hired were damn glad to find a job making $15,000 a year. There was no such thing as a high turnover rate back either — hiring two or three men a year and losing ten. They all worked hard, got married, bought homes, bought nice automobiles and raised families in the city and county. Many of them are now presently retiring with quite an attractive retirement package. I think the difference was they didn’t expect everything to be handed to them on a silver platter in their first year of employment.

  15. I think the job was a bit easier back then, as well, and the cost of living wasn’t so high in C-ville. Now, we’ve got gangs and houses cost a fortune, in the city or out. I know that I’d want more than $34,000.

  16. Side note…Roberts son is a Lieutenant, so he does have a pretty decent wage and living standard after being a cop for about 30 years. But most of the rank and file have no take home cars…unlike Albemarle County PD AND every local Sheriff’s Office…including the CITY Sheriff’s Office. They work extraordinary amounts of OT just to be able to make ends meet, and most of them either live in Waynesboro or in Fluvanna, surely not in Charlottesville. You have to be dirt poor or rich to live in the City.

    Furthermore, Charlottesville’s pay is still quite a bit behind jurisdictions in the Richmond area and some in Tidewater..while Charlottesvilles COL is second only to Northern Va. Plus the City still does not include educational incentives or career development toward retirement.

    It is true that the starting salary has been raised but for the line people this has contributed to huge compression issues also.

  17. Exactly my point, Jeeperman. The Lt. started at the bottom of the totem pole and worked for years to get where he’s at now. Married, nice home, nice cars, raised a family, kids in college, the whole nine yards. But all of this wasn’t handed to him on a silver platter in his first 12 months on the job like the kids expect nowadays. (I hear he would like to get Harding’s old job now which will enhance his retirement benefits even more. Good move!) I think 25 year old recruits now expect to have a BMW and Mercedes sitting in front of a $350,000 home if anybody expects them to be police officers, teachers or firefighters.
    And Cynic, if anything the job was harder back then. Sure, the population was a few thousand people less in the city, but the city police also had half the officers they now have. And a 1985 dollar bought just as much as a 2007 dollar does now. The ole “cost of living” claim just doesn’t cut it.

  18. True, but not everyone can be a Lieutenant, no matter HOW hard you might try. There’s just a few slots for top staff. The fact remains that the City must do more to attract good young people to the job. To lament the youth culture of today, while it may have some merit, does nothing to fix the problem. The good ones will go where the perks are and the money is and that is the state of affairs as it exists.

  19. Another thing that seems to be an issue particularly with the City police I know is the fact that many in the City see the police as a “needed evil” and have seen them that way for years. It is no secret the City is filled to the brim with leftists with a bent toward suspicion of “authority”…until they’re needed of course. Cops certainly make mistakes, but not only here, but nationally, they seem never to get ANY positive press anymore. Police were certainly looked upon more favorably years ago.

    From the ones I know, putting up with problem situations and general criminals does not bother them, but the indifference of the general public and many City politicians certainly does. Also, a large part of why young folks might not want to be cops anymore is due in large part to the media portrayals of police since the days of Rodney King. The problems when they occur are played over and over while positives go unnoticed. The same could be said for just about anything in the media today though. Negativity sells. Everybody hates a cop but loves a fireman.

  20. Jeeperman, I just can’t relate at all to your depiction of the public perception of police officers. I don’t doubt that there exist segments of the population who view the police in this manner, but if the general perception of the police is that negative, I’m utterly unaware of it.

  21. Waldo, I am afraid Jeeperman is right. More and more people hate and distrust the police now. It’s an epidemic. And the actions of just a few cause all of this hatred. Every year something new happens that leaves the local departments looking like total buffoons. Let’s see, 1) county PD – rookie falsely arresting one of their own as a police impersonator. 2) county PD – arresting their second in command for soliciting juveniles on the Internet for sex. 3) county PD – firing one of their sergeants were filing false speedometer calibrations, 4) county PD – firing a married sergeant for going to his girlfriend’s house raising hell and breaking things, 5) city PD – two officers arrested in the recent sex scandals, 6) city PD – city officer fired for taking two juvenile girls to a motel room, 7) city PD – allegations of unwarranted police brutality in the Silva and Austin cases, 8) city PD – sexual harrassment against a female detective by a fellow detective, 9) county PD – multi-million dollar wrongful death verdict for the killing of a young black man, etc… These are just a few examples right off the top of my head in the last few years. And they are just the tip of the iceberg, events that leaked out and couldn’t be swept under the rug and hidden from the public. The police will always have their fan club members like Mothers Against Drunk Drivers who throw a banquet and shower them with awards. They also have banquets themselves and shower each other with awards. Big Whoopity Doo! Their intended purpose is very transparent. But their real supporters are few and far between when compared to 2 decades ago.

  22. Demopublican,

    In 1985, the house I live in now sold for around $30,000. The cost of this house now would be at least ten times that. So, in 1985, that’s double a new recruit’s salary. Today, it’s roughly ten times that new recruit’s salary. I know that this is a problem for everyone, not just a problem for the police….but, like them or not, we need police. So, if we can’t hire them at $34,000, we need to think about restructuring the pay for officers in the city, to lure them and to keep them here.

  23. But their real supporters are few and far between when compared to 2 decades ago.

    That’s interesting. Maybe I’m just too young to have ever known otherwise. And maybe, too, I’m friends with too many cops and ex-cops — I can mentally separate out the dopes (you’ve cited several) from the bulk of the officers who make up the force, while perhaps most people are largely exposed to the police via the media.

  24. Cynic, if any house you bought for $30,000 back in 1985 is now worth $300,000, you better file an assessment appeal tomorrow morning. You’re being taken to the cleaners by the City of Charlottesville.
    I picked an address at random from the city records, 705 Montrose Avenue. I figured it might be worth $30,000 back in 1985. The city records indicate it was worth $49,500 in 1984, and $188,000 in 2007. I think homes have increased in value maybe 3 or 4 times their worth in the last 20 to 25 years, but not 10 times their worth unless the house has undergone some pretty expensive upgrades and renovation.
    I then picked another adrress at random, 1920 Greenbrier Drive. In 1982 it was worth $96,000. In 2007, $295,900. So it increased in value 3 times it’s worth back in 1982.
    I then picked the home of a local police officer, I won’t list the address for obvious reaons. In 1987 it was worth $155,000. In 2007, $449,800. So it therefore also increased 3 times it’s worth in the last 20 years.
    I don’t see how any home increased 10 times it’s worth from 1985, $30,000 to $300,000 as you claim. Something is wrong there.

  25. Yep Waldo, that was my point exactly. The bulk of the officers do an excellent job which is largely ignored by the public and the media while the idiots who tarnish the badge get page one. This negative portrayal has indeed impacted the public impression of police over the last 20 or so years no matter how much good press they may attempt to garner or how many good works they accomplish daily. The local media, with the occasional exception of the local CBS station, is simply not interested in the good deeds. Of course that is the main problem of the media today. Salaciousness and negativity sells…and the public sucks it up. Demopublican must admit one thing though, apparently when local departments do catch bad cops, they get rid of them posthaste. That’s not always the case in other areas and for that would should be appreciative as well.

  26. Believe it or not, there were still people who referred to the police as “pigs” 25 years ago. I think a lot of older people started thinking better of police officers after 9-11 and those warm feelings may be wearing-off again, especially when they remember their youth while listening to “The Wall.” Some people just hate symbols of authority.
    Traditionally, Council has treated budget surpluses as one-time windfall and have refused to spend the money on items with annual expenses such as salaries, additional retirement benefits, additional employee benefits, additional employees or new programs that require a recurring source of income. If there is no surplus next year, they can’t reduce salaries. Therefore, they usually appropriate the surplus for items that are considered one-time expenditures such as equipment purchases, fund balance deficits, cost overruns, asset acquisitions or capital improvement projects.

  27. Jeeperman, not true. It really depends on who the cop is or they might be related to. And I will be glad to explain. Some here may not be old enough to recall some things that have taken place in the past. But there was once a cop fired for stealing. Six months later he was back on the force. There was no question about his guilt and no reasnable explanation was ever given to the public as to why he was rehired. In another case there’s a cop who couldn’t tell the truth if he was sitting on a 10 foot tall stack of bibles. But a family member of his donates so much money to a police association that nothing is ever done to him. What about the off duty cop who took his own department on a high speed pursuit and wrecked his personal vehicle, this crash ending this pursuit Thank God! Every member of the public traveling on our local public roadways was placed in danger this night, there was no “protect and serve” by this off duty officer on this evening. Once again, this was just a few examples off the top of my head. And all of them are still employed as police officers to this day. Of the 3 examples above,, should any of them not have been terminated?
    I wonder if any of you are old enough to recall the murder coverup that took place back in the 60s? The case was closed as a motor vehicle accident fatality. Everybody involved in this coverup should have been terminated and imprisoned. And to the best of my knowledge there’s only two retired law enforcement officers left living that know the truth about that evening. One of them supposedly has the entire truth sealed in his will. It’s going to rock this town and the UVA community when his will is read (if it’s true).

  28. And Jeeperman, I might also add that the reason so many cops aren’t fired for misconduct nowadays is because it’s too hard to find and hire somebody to replace them. This is a sad fact for the public and the reason so many remain on duty when they should have been canned. The media is the only reason some are eventually fired for misconduct. Like the police brutality case in Albemarle County a few years ago. The detective was caught on video tape beating a suspect during an interrogation. Video tape doesn’t lie. I’m still amazed that the media got their hands on the video tape. This same officer was last year hired by a friend in Louisa to once again be a police officer. He was hired by somebody that also had been fired by the Albemarle County police department. This didn’t last long though once the Louisa town council found out about his past.

  29. Demopublican,

    I’m not making it up about the assessment on my house. In 1976, it sold for $15,000. I had to go downtown to get the assessment history. How did you find it on-line? I don’t see how to access this information from the city assessor’s on-line site. While my house was in a dodgy neighborhood, and therefore might have increased in value more than others, your own findings suggest that housing costs have gone up three or four times while police salaries have doubled.

  30. Demopublican, I remember well the incident in the 60’s which you talk about. I also found the circumstances surrounding the incident to be suspicious. No one was ever brought to justice for this incident as I recall. I have always suspected some kind of cover-up. You are right if this incident is ever solved it will blow the lid off of some very “important” people’s reputations and the University image.
    I do find it strange that a law enforcement officer could have the whole story in his will, and it remain a secret for all these many years.

  31. Proabbly the best thing for me to do at this stage is move to Buckingham, buy 5 acres and build a log cabin. JC

  32. Good Luck, JC! The property of a friend of mine in Buckingham underwent an annual reassessment a few years ago, and the value of his land and home increased 400%. The county gave him a thousand reasons why this sudden and outrageous increase had taken place. Another friend of mine was voted off the Buckingham Board of Supervisors about the same time. He claims it was a blessing in disguise based on the public outcry and phone calls he was receiving 24 hours a day over these reassessments. You can’t move to any city or county now where the residents aren’t being raped by wasteful spending, ridiculous assessments and taxation.

  33. Back to the local cops, they are paid about what they are worth for the job they do around here, which is drive around and wave at people. It is about a safe a job as you can get in this area. When was the last time they actually shot somebody armed with a real gun? I can’t recall one being shot or shot at in modern history. The majority of them would sh#@ their pants if they worked in Richmond or D.C., where they would make a lot more money by the way. They have no problem attracting PVCC Criminal Justice Associate degree holders or flunkies with no other skills from the military police to come here. Anybody can write a speeding ticket or help exchange info at a traffic accident which is 99 percent of what they do. There will never be a shortage of goobers who were picked on in high school, and get revenge by getting a badge and gun picking on soccer moms and and the Shiffletts. If you want protection then buy your ownself a gun…..and for god sakes don’t speed or drive without your seatbelt around here.

  34. Old School, it’s obvious you have been written up for speeding and no seat belt. No big deal. But I’m here now to tell the people what you say is about as close to the truth as one can get. Thnak You!

  35. Here’s an article in today’s Progress that concerns the rebate issue. I find it interesting that Gary O’Connell has forwarded his proposed CIP expenditures to the Planning Commission for 2008-9 before Council has had a chance to discuss and without any chance for public perusal. Implied in this list of proposed expenditures is a list of priorites. Is it a priority for city residents to provide improved fire protection to the UVA football stadium (used probably less than 10 times a year) and Fontaine Research Park? Maybe, UVA ought to kick in some construction equipment money. Or, “Fontaine area” includes all of the current and future growth IN THE COUNTY? Remember the proposal for the new EMS service to be provided by the fire department is supposed to serve both the City and the County. Of course, the Planning Commission’s approval this early in the game would add weight to Gary’s proposal not to reduce the real estate tax rate this year. I’m glad the Commission did not rubber stamp. When will the Council make up a list of priorities for everybody to see and discuss?!news

  36. CVille Eye, can somebody connect the functioing of the police department with the tax rebate? I think I can. Marks said above that “the City should divide up and distribute the surplus amongst the city police officers.” This is how cops entered this discussion. Is this what you are asking?

  37. Demopublican, I thought the concensus on this blog was that the police shouldn’t get the surplus, so we are no longer discussing the surplus?

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