21 thoughts on “BoS Sets Advertised Property Tax Rate”

  1. This is idiotic. Like they are the only one’s with ‘funding shortfalls?’ How about their constituents getting squeezed by rising costs of bread, milk, meat, gasoline and pretty much everything else we need to spend money on each month? Now there’s a credit crunch on top of all that.

    Those of us who own property in Albemarle County can’t even sell it right now to get out from under expenses. There’s nobody buying. We’re making as much or less money than we were a few years ago, except that these dollars buy us less. People are hurting right now. Bad.

    So what do the Board of Supervisors want to do about it? RAISE OUR TAXES? Are these idiots out of their minds? We’re in a recession. A lot of us can barely manage to pay what we owe as it stands. Our mortgages and other monthly bills are pretty well set in stone. Higher taxes at this point wouldn’t be cutting into fat – it’ll come out of grocery and gas money. It’s beyond muscle. They’re cutting straight to the bone.

    Next election, I will vote to throw out any member of the Board who votes to raise my property taxes right now. Regardless of his or her party affiliation. If they have a budget shortfall, then spend less money. Just like the rest of us have had to do.

  2. Remeber Slutsky is saying that this propert rate isn’t high enough. “What’s an additonal $12.50 a month?” “that’s pizza and beer money”. He seems to think that you should be happy giving the county more money even though your house is worth less and gas is going even higher. Couple that with the ripple higher energy puts on raisng everyone prices.

    The refain from government is “no matter how much you gave us last year it’s not enough”. Your household budget and net worth have declined but don’t ask for government to tighten their belt because they don’t have to. Most likely you won’t make them either.

  3. Would it be appropriate if the headline for this posting were less technical and more practical, such as “BoS Proposes Property Tax Hike?” Advertising a rate is one thing, and it seems very procedural, while what they’re really doing is digging deeper into our pockets.

    $12.50/month is $150/year. Maybe that’s nothing to Slutzky, but it matters to most of the rest of us. I guess I should consider myself lucky for having a conventional mortgage – but it’s good to know that the County is going to do their part to increase our monthly payment.

    And Perlogik is dead-on: We won’t make them be accountable. We rarely do.

  4. Would it be appropriate if the headline for this posting were less technical and more practical, such as “BoS Proposes Property Tax Hike?” Advertising a rate is one thing, and it seems very procedural, while what they’re really doing is digging deeper into our pockets.

    I don’t know enough about the specifics of the budget process to write a headline that doesn’t contain the phrase “sets advertised property tax rate.” It’s not clear to me that they are proposing a tax rate here, only agreeing on what the highest price is that they’ll allow.

  5. Waldo, I can sense your reluctance but the next time they vote it will be finalized. So it would not be inaccurate to say that the BOS is proposing a tax increase. Further I would guarantee that it won’t be less than $.70.

  6. Just how many feathers (tax dollars) from the goose and gander can we (BoS)pluck before they start squaking? Well, people keep electing these liberal tax and spend loons and you’ll be left with no feathers to keep you warm next winter. Everyone says they will vote with their pocket books the next election and throw the scandrals out who vote for a tax increase, BUT come eletion time all is forgotten and everyone is happy and ready to vote the same liberal loons back into office. Go figure.

  7. I applaud the BOS for having the courage to do what is right in the face of an ignorant percentage of the electorate that will attack them for doing so who never investigate what the budget requires.
    The fact is, a majority of our taxes go to funding the schools. The schools have faced sharply higher costs over the past few years, including huge increases in fuel costs for the buses (ACSD buses average 12,000 miles per DAY), increases in ESOL students, unfunded federal mandates like No Child Left Behind, and rapidly diminishing state assistance. The schools were facing higher class sizes and cuts throughout the system while increasing its focus on passing SOLs.
    The fact is, the county has one of the lowest rates in the Commonwealth, when comparing Albemarle’s rate to other entities of similar size. And a majority of people’s assessments went down this year!
    But hey, go ahead and selfishly vote out the Supes who choose to properly fund the county’s needs. The amount you save, equal to about a pizza a month, is way more important that giving county employees a reasonable salary. By the way, the Supervisors don’t have party affiliation. But you knew all that, right?

  8. Spokes- what part of the budget to you think people are unaware of?
    Your plea of more money for schools ignores the fact that the county has been very generous by increasing salaries and has had almost no growth of the student population in the last 5 years. The is only class size problem with schools that have not been properly redistricted. There are schools in the system that have much lower than average class sizes. The school board has yet to deal with this problem becasue they are scared of upseting the parents who childern might move to another school.

    The fact we have the lowest rate is meaningless, we don’t have the lowest taxes. The rate is just a number that without a relationship to average price of a home misleads instead of informing. You do a disservice to a fair hearing of the matters at hand. It isn’t about the rate- it’s about the check I have to write and that’s going to be bigger this year.

    As to party affilation the BOS does have it. The last election one republican and two democrats. But you didn’t know that right?

  9. I stand corrected on the party affiliation – a quick Google search seemed to confirm my memory (and there are no affiliations listed on the BOS website).

    The number of students attending the schools doesn’t matter. As stated above, there are unfunded federal mandates affecting the schools, plus responsibility for educating an increasing number of students for whom English is not a first language (yet they still have to meet the same SOL standards, same as all other students) and school bus fuel costs that have increased to $2.40 per gallon from 95 cents per gallon in 2002. Multiply that over the 12,000 daily miles the buses travel, and you can see why additional money might be necessary to fund the schools, even though enrollment has gone down. These are just a few examples of changes over the past few years. This year’s school budget, without an increase, will eliminate teacher’s aides in K and Grade 1 and increase class size. We aren’t talking about luxuries here – the fat is long gone from their budget.

    The BOS has the responsibility to maintain our services and charge us to do so. The fact that not a single member of this board argued for a lower rate should tell you something about this year’s budget and the needs that have to be funded. There are some very conservative members of the board, yet not one argued for a lower increase than the proposed 3 cents.

  10. The number of students doesn’t matter? You have got to be joking. Every comparable stat on school systems involves cost per student. If the number of students doesn’t matter then why would their transportation matter? Why not make parent pay for some of the bus cost (which has been proposed). What about more central drop off and pickup areas? Many students don’t take the bus every day but the bus must go to every spot every day, make the system all in or all out. Some how thousands of private school kids find there way to class without busses.T he answer isn’t always just to write a biger check and move on. What part are fuel costs of the overall budget?

    Who said the budget for schools won’t be increased- no one is saying their should be a zero increase. The dreaded “unfunded mandates” bogeyman isn’t anywhere as significant as the increase in personal cost and rising health cost- which are all covered. As to cutting out all the fat you are sadly mistaken and offer no proof. Two separate studies on the Albemarle school system have proven that . We have significant over staffing at the central office and the cost savings from that have yet to be fully accounted for.

    BTW you stated that gas was $.95 in 2002- nope, according to a quick google the average price for gas at the end of 2002 was about $1.50.

    And you are wrong (again) about the fact that no one argued for a lower rate, there was a motion for a lower rate and a second (by the two somewhat conservative members). The vote was defeated and the higher rate was advertized after a second vote for $.71. The job of the BOS is to use the taxes they extact from us in a resonable and prudent matter, I don’t believe they have done that yet.

  11. I once heard that the definition of econonics was trying to satisfy your infinite wants with your finite resources. It appears that the County has forgotten the second part of that definition.

  12. I think the BOS should go forward with the .71 tax RATE increase. Given that most property tax assessments were flat or decreased in the county, it is simply not true that most tax payers will see a significant (or any)raise in their tax bills this year.
    All property owners have an interest in maintaining a good school system. I earlier cheered the cuts to central ACPS offices because I believe that the money should be spent in the schools where it will benefit students. Perhaps it is also necessary to look at the school transportation system for more efficiencies given the rising fuel costs. However, long term, nothing will hurt home values in the county more than poor schools. I think that many older residents do not realize the intensity today’s parents bring to their children’s education. If you ever need to sell your home to someone who is not elderly, good schools are a must. I emphasize this because tax misers tend to focus on their own financial interests though, of course, we all have a need to have the next generation be well educated if our society is not to stagnate.
    Another point here is that the employees of local government are also often local residents/taxpayers, not some enemy out to “get” taxpayers.
    We all depend on services provided by local governments and I do not want to see serious deterioration of those services.

  13. Well said, Gail, particularly the point about not demonizing government employees and elected officials. And also about the fact that assessments in some cases went down in the county.

  14. I will wager anyone here that the majority of Albemarle homeowners will see an increase in their tax bills at whatever rate is set. The fact you seem to ignore is that the schools have seen a significant increase in funding over the last 5 years that has outstripped inflation, mandates, and student populations. I want strong schools but more money does not always = better schools. I point you to today’s progress story about the $4 million dollar computer system that the county bought that doesn’t work. Really does anyone want to say that all the fat is gone and we are running a tight ship??

    It is high time that educational supporters admit that on any reasonable level the Albemarle taxpayer has been more generous compare with any similar locality. Good schools are what everyone wants but a blank check isn’t how you get there. Studies have shown that we don’t get a much value for our tax dollar as other localities. I’m not preventing anyone from having a great education just ask that more prudent use of our tax dollar be attempted.

  15. I point you to today’s progress story about the $4 million dollar computer system that the county bought that doesn’t work.

    I don’t think that’s an accurate representation of the situation. The county has spent $4M — as budgeted — on a computer system, and it’s not done yet, as it was scheduled to be. (This is what comes of working with Microsoft.) It’s not like they flushed $4M down the toilet. :) They’ll get the product they paid for, it’s just behind schedule.

  16. I second the kudos for Gail’s comments.

    And maybe Perlogik could back up his statement that “a significant increase in funding over the last 5 years …has outstripped inflation, mandates, and student populations.” I’ve shown several examples of where the budget has been hit by increases that have nothing to do with the number of students and are outside of the control of the School Board. I’d like to see you show how funding has “outstripped” these added costs.

    I’m all for lower taxes where a more prudent use of our tax dollar be found. I’m not for shots at a reasonable budget by people who simply want to pay lower taxes and hide behind the mantra of “responsible” taxation.

  17. The gas costs I was quoting were the bulk rates actually paid by the county, not higher retail rates. This per gallon cost is confirmed in the Daily Progress article of March 2, 2008 entitled “Albemarle school budget continues to grow.” Check it out by Googling the title; the link is too long to reproduce here.
    The same article reported some additional challenges faced by Albemarle County Public Schools over the past few years:
    High stakes testing has been implemented due to federal and state mandates – the number of Standards of Learning exams proctored annually by Albemarle Schools has risen from around 18,000 in 2002 to more than 30,000 today.
    Limited English Proficient(LEP)students have increased by 52% in the last 5 years and 10 years ago were “so small that we didn’t even really measure it,” according to the Superintendent in the Daily Progress article.
    In addition, from from the School Board and Superintendent’s presentations to the Board of Supervisors, the past 10 years have seen:
    The number of students have increased from 11,343 to 12,446. (Despite what others falsely claim in this string.)
    Increased needs for technology in the classroom to meet societal demands.
    Increased certification requirements.
    Faculty and staff health insurance has increased over 300% per employee.
    Even Rob Bell’s bullying program (which no doubt brought him a few votes) costs the county schools money. Whereas the school district had a program implemented before his legislation passed, now they have additional paperwork and documentation attached to the law. The legislation did not reimburse localities for this mandate.

  18. Waldo the computer system is 2 years behind schedule, the article clearly states it might cost more. If anyone thought I was saying the money was all going down the drain, it’s not what I meant nor what was written.

    The truth is nobody can say when this will work and what it’s final cost will be. This doesn’t make the County look good. It might all work out and cost only $4 million. Anybody want to make that wager?

  19. The truth is nobody can say when this will work and what it’s final cost will be.

    That’s true, though that’s always been the case. Whenever somebody contracts for something of this nature, there’s no certainty of when it will be done or how much it will cost. I can’t see what’s different with this project, except that it’s already taken longer than it was estimated to.

  20. Is is possible that 2 years over due and still not working is way too long for a project of this size- with no end in sight?

  21. Oh, sure — without knowing any details about the project, that certainly seems like it’s pretty bad. But, really, you’ve got to sympathize with Albemarle here. They contracted with Microsoft, surely figuring that by working with the world’s leading software company, they had their butts covered. And so the county is now talking with Microsoft to insist that Albemarle not pay any more than the estimate for this, which makes perfect sense. Finally, Microsoft has taken corrective action, hiring some new subcontractors, so at least they’re trying something different.

    My point here is that I’m not sure what fault that Albemarle bears here. They went with the world’s biggest technology business, they set up what appears to be a reasonable timeline, and they’re pressuring the business to deliver quickly and on budget. As the county says:

    Foley said Albemarle has lost more time than money. Much of the costs, he said, the county will ultimately recover because the new software and hardware purchased will be used.

    The project, Foley said, turned out to be too ambitious and the timeline too short for a complicated endeavor.

    “We really haven’t lost any investment yet,” Foley said. “It’s been more complex than folks had thought.”

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