Sunday, January 20, 2013

York County residents brace for another tax increase

By Amanda Kerr, | 757-247-47334:46 p.m. EST, January 12, 2013
YORK — York County residents may need to brace for another increase in the real estate tax rate based on preliminary 2014 budget scenarios discussed during a York County Board of Supervisors retreat Saturday.
York County Administrator James McReynolds said revenue projections for 2014 look positive for the county, with an estimated $1.67 million in new revenue expected. But possible new expenditures totaling $3.8 million would create a funding gap of $2.12 million, he said.
York County's current 2013 operating budget is $127.2 million, up $4 million from the previous year's budget.

    Other new expenditures would include an estimated $700,000 increase in health insurance costs, $600,000 in additional funding for capital costs and other county expenses and $500,000 associated with the implementation of the Affordable Care Act.
    One penny on the real estate tax rate equals $875,000. The real estate tax rate would have to be increased by 2.4 cents to close the $2.12 million gap.
    York County school officials are projecting an estimated $2.9 million 2014 budget funding gap, which includes a 2 percent raise for employees. Several School Board members have said they support asking the county for a $2.9 million increase in funding to the school division.
    McReynolds said if the supervisors wanted to provide the school division with an additional $875,000 on top of the money for the 1.5 percent raise, increasing schools funding by $2.22 million, that would create a funding gap of $3 million. To close that gap, he said the countywould need to raise the tax rate by 3.4 cents.
    If the supervisors wanted to give the school division a total of $3.1 million in new funding, including money for the raises, that would create a funding gap for the county of $3.87 million. McReynolds said the tax rate would need to be raised 4.4 cents.
    Board of Supervisors Chairman Walt Zaremba was concerned about increasing the real estate tax rate in the 2014 budget since supervisors just handed down an 8.4-cent rate increase in the 2013 budget. The tax rate is currently 74.15 cents per $100 of assessed value. He asked to see a budget proposal that closes any funding gap with expenditure cuts only.
    Supervisor Don Wiggins felt it was not useful to see a budget with just expenditure cuts because many of them are not realistic, alluding to proposed cuts of 24 firefighters and deputies in the 2013 budget that the supervisors did not approve.
    Supervisor Tom Shepperd supported providing county employees with a raise. He didn't think there was much left the county could cut without affecting services to citizens.
    The supervisors will hold a joint budget work session with the School Board on Feb. 5.McReynolds will release his proposed 2014 budget March 19.


    1. Tom/Sheila/George/Walt/Don,

      I just read the Daily Press article (BELOW) about another possible tax increase in York County.
      Speaking as a citizen of York County, l speak for myself that l do not want another tax increase. I recognize you have a tough job to do, so l would like to help. I will be more than willing to put some business owners & experience private sector managers together to help you with this dilemma. In York County, we have some business owners that are in the INK 100 !!! We have some managers that have managed budgets in the 100's of millions !! Let's put our collective minds together to solve the 2014 budget shortfall. I know we can do it and avoid another tax increase. Tom, I hope the Daily Press misquoted you when they say that you don't see a good way to cut any more spending. PLEASE LET US HELP.
      GG -Jan 13

    2. Y'all,
      As I have pointed out at least several times, the rulers are now engaged in the "Budget Game." Again, I will point out the rules and how it's played:
      First of all, taxpayers who are interested in lower spending are not welcome and listened to. Useful citizens are those who show up and make noise for their favorite cause: education, public "safety," anything that requires more government.
      Second, government staff pounds it into the rulers' head that they, staff, are the sole determinate of good government, efficient spending and so on. Taxpayers cannot be properly educated or have the experience and know-how to make any kind of determination in regard to government spending, regulation. "We" are spending our tax dollars for these people (staff) and our rulers should listen to them. Through the magic of education and experience the staff knows how to be efficient, courteous, proficient and just plain perfect. If the rulers don't listen to staff, their (staff) salaries are a waste of money.
      Third, by virtue of the above, the rulers owe their allegiance to staff and not the citizens. The only time they really care is when they run for re-election and they put on a long face and b/s the voters into believing they have some plan for efficient government. The plan is to rubber stamp everything the staff proposes. Staff are experts. See?
      Fourth, staffs' pay is determined by how much money they spend and how many people they supervise. The more money and people, the more pay they get. Suppose that the staff and rulers cut the budget by 1/2. Naturally, these cuts would come at the expense of lower rated positions and education. Not a dime of administration could be cut. It is so important, you know. Anyway, assuming that hell froze over and cuts were made, would there not be an outcry to cut administrations salary because they weren't spending as much money and supervising as many people? So what incentive does county staff have to make any cuts? The people doing the "cutting" are the ones that should be cut. There is about as much chance of these people listening to common sense and recommendations from citizens as I have for teaching French at William and Mary.
      Fifth, getting back to the game: After all the "experts" (county "employees") have weighed in, rulers put on their long faces and ask a really stupid question: "Are you sure that this is the best you can do?" Or some version. Let's see, if the "employee answers "no," that means he can do better and is not doing his "job." So, again with a long face, he answers "yes." The rulers then note there is "nothing more" they can do and vote for the tax increases, more regulation and government spending. The game is now over for another year.
      Look, these people have been re-elected for four years and have "served" only one. They don't give a continental damn about taxpayers or reelection for that matter. That is three years away and with the attention of the average American at about 30 seconds, they will pull the wool over our eyes again and again. I would hope that next time that we pick someone who will represent the people and good government and put a lot of resources into that endeavour. If we just had one of five (20%) that would represent the interest of freedom and liberty, what a great, refreshing change that would be!
      David Ware, Jan 14

    3. David,

      Great explanation on how the “game” is played. However, you did not give justice to the part of the game where the “only” possible cuts they can find are to the sheriff’s office, fire department and teachers. Keep in mind that the “experts” always throw these 3 categories out to immediately sell the need for more taxes because they realize the average citizen does not want to cut these critical services.

      My two cents.


    4. Y'all,
      Probably the most under-supervised, out-of-control areas of local governments is their legal departments. These are accountable only to the the Boards of Supervisors and basically just run wild. They will appeal a decision on littering to the U. S. Supreme Court as it is not their money. They are never called to fiscal account. It would be a good place for York County to start cutting. Those of you who have had the pleasure of being pursued by these zealots, as I have, will relate to the following:
      David Jan 18

    5. Agreed - for most of a year, the County can't even employ a Chief for Tax Assessors. Now I read they are looking for a Deputy Administrator of the County (closes 2/8/13) who will oversee the Tax Assessors. The law requires tax payers to get the assessment notices 45 days in advance of January 1st so we can appeal directly to the assessor. What they will do is the same and send the notices two days before January 1st when the assessor has no authority to make changes unless there is a math error. Shame on them! Tom -Jan 18

    6. This is but one of many indicators that our Board of Supervisors as a whole have lost there grip on what there real duty as a public servant. It is not to continue to justify the bureaucracy but to reign it in. We the citizens are not concerned with the county government maintaining it's power but rather that the people get the services they need by the most efficient means.

      If some services suffer in hard times than so be it. We should establish our priorities on law enforcement and education and the rest will have to withstand the cuts. For example: Sidewalks are nice but if a neighborhood wants them bad enough, they can build them. The zoning bureaucracy can be gutted. Why is the county spending money on prosecuting a case over the definition of "aquaculture?"

      I don't know how much was spent on drafting the Comprehensive Plan but that too is a waste of paper it's not yet printed on. It seems to ignore most of the input from the early public hearings only to push the same UN agenda of consolidating population and continued government overreach. While using words like "coherent overall master plan" it contradicts even it's own polling of what the residents of York County like and want, rural open communities, and pushes for more dense "mixed use" developments and contradicts that yet again by insisting on arbitrary restrictions on agriculture, aquaculture and commerce without and direct relevance to infrastructure or impact on the rights of neighbors.

      No, the BoS have plenty of areas to cut spending and if they need any help finding it they have plenty of citizens ready and able to point it out. They can start with two thirds of the text of our zoning and property use laws followed by two thirds of the bureaucrats employed to process it. Oh, and have I mentioned the waste of pursuing a case to VA Supreme Court only to sure up the power of the local bureaucracy to fill out forms and collect fees.

      No, thank you! I have all the government I can afford.

      Robert Bruce Alexander,