Supervisors Approve One-Cent Tax Hike

April, 18, 2012 – 8:30pm

The Clarke County Board of Supervisors unanimously passed a one-cent property tax increase tonight bringing the County’s new tax rate to $0.63 per hundred dollars of assessed property value. While the Supervisors deferred adoption of the County’s proposed $38M expenditure budget pending action by the General Assembly on state spending plans, the group unanimously agreed to support the local budget in principle. Barring no unforeseen changes, the two actions provide the Clarke County Commissioner of Revenue and the Treasurer with the information necessary to prepare the tax bills for distribution in May.

Clarke County Supervisors Chairman Michael Hobert (Berryville) characterized the one-cent tax hike as $40 a year on a $400K home – a $3.33 per month cost increase.

Supervisor John Staelin (Millwood) said that the one-cent reduction, which had been originally discussed as a two-cent tax hike, was not an effort to balance the County’s budget on the backs of the school division and defended the Supervisors’s level of funding support for the schools. Staelin said this year Clarke County Public Schools are receiving an 8% increase in both local funding and an 8% increase in state funding thanks to a favorable composite index change.

“This adds 8% to the school budget and shows tremendous support for education,” Staelin said. Staelin also pointed out that the proposed budget includes a two-percent wage increase for teachers and County employees even though several surrounding counties had rejected pay raises for employees.

Staelin noted that Clarke County ranked 49th of 94 counties in education spending and was in the top 20% for local funding of education.

“For the past four years the Supervisors have approved the school budgets as requested and have given the schools exactly what they’ve asked for,” Staelin said.

Supervisors Bev McCay (White Post), David Weiss (Buckmarsh) and Barbara Byrd (Russell), who had all expressed reservations about a tax increase, agreed to support the one-cent increase for varying reasons. McKay cited mismanagement of the underfunded Virginia Retirement System (VRS) as leaving few options other than a tax raise to address the problem. Supervisor David Weiss said that he still had reservations about the tax hike but felt that it was important to demonstrate to the public that the Supervisors work together and will move forward together.

“I support the budget and keep my reservations,” Weiss said.

Supervisor Byrd also pointed to Richmond as the root of the hardship that is forcing localities to raise taxes.

“What’ happening in Richmond is irresponsible but we have to bear it locally,” Byrd said. “We are so lucky to have a fund balance to draw from but we have to protect it and can’t rob from it. The people of the ┬áCounty want us to be good money managers with their dollars.”

Given that no additional budget surprises happen in the meantime, ┬áthe Supervisors plan to meet on April 30th at 6:30pm to approve the County’s FY13 budget.

Clarke County, Virginia FY 2013 tax rates


  1. Right…after 4 years of net decreased local funding, there finally is an uptic…and the supervisors wanted to reduce local funding because the state is sending more money their way…for the schools. $3.33 per month increase on a $400K home…stick with the initial increase, and it’s $6.66 – a scary number, perhaps, but about the cost of a Big Mac combo meal @ the Waterloo McDonald’s.

    I’m glad they actually did something positive, but am disappointed that they backed off the full, though still modest, advertised increase.

  2. Stonebroke says:

    Stop with the blame game on Richmond! It’s getting old already!

  3. Another View says:

    We need a broad based tax revenue system, coupled with reduced government spending. We do not need the continued ratcheting up of a tax rate on a small base.

    There is nothing positive about the BOS action, it is just more of the same; kicking the can down the road. Just like the folks in Congress.

    • Maybe if Antiqueville would let some meaninful business’s into town that people would patronize we wouldn’t be in this mess……… Just saying what needs to be said….

      • jennifer says:

        won’t help much if they don’t pay taxes in Clarke like they would anywhere else.

        • Clarke 1 says:

          Thats true! 35.00 bucks a year is a joke!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Wake up Clarke County!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  4. clarke conservative says:

    Very proud of our Board of Supervisors holding down the burden of local taxes.

    While our local Supervisors have held the increase down to a $0.01 increase in property taxes, Frederick is up $0.04 and Winchester up $0.09. In real terms Clarke County will see an increase in the individual tax bill of $40 on a $400,000 house, Frederick County property owners will pay an additional $160 a year on a $400,000 house and in Winchester they are looking at forking over an additional $360 a year for the same.

    It looks like Winchester will be going on a diet. Think of how many times you could go out to eat on $360! That’s alot of Big Mac’s.

  5. While not ideal, I’m glad there is an increase in funds for our schools and county offices. I know it’s not an easy year to do such a thing, and I agree with the supervisors that Richmond is maddening in its shirking of its own obligations (although I wouldn’t use Mr.s Byrd’s descriptor of Richmond being “a nasty wife” or “a nasty husband”).

  6. Got-A-Dollar says:

    It’s about time for state employees and teachers to contribute to their retirement system VRS, this has been a burden on the taxpayers for too long. Most everyone else contributes to their retirement system.

    • Another View says:

      How about a 90% contribution? Or the elimination of the VRS altogether?

    • Common Sense says:

      What if an employer agreed to pay you a small salary but in return your employer agreed to assume responsibility for funding your retirement. You agree that this is a good trade-off so you signify your agreement by signing a contract with that employer. Years later, after operating under this agreement and forgoing higher salaries in return for future retirement benefits, your employer tells you that they are going broke so they are breaking the contract and you now have to pay for your retirement. Breach of contract? Wouldn’t you want some additional consideration in terms of salary in fair return for having to pay more than you thought you would for your retirement benefit? Shouldn’t you have the right to negotiate this new arrangement with the employer?

      • If the employer is “broke” good luck in the negotiations. How do you negotiate a new arrangement with an employer who is broke? Life is rough…

  7. Another View are you kidding me? You crack me up! You want the teachers to recieve no raise, and now no retirement? You already said your little ones go to private school, so whats the ax that u are grinding…..To send your kids to private school during these times, I think we all know your agenda……

  8. Another View says:

    There is no “contract” obligating public pensions. And public pensions should be eliminated; they are arcane and unaffordable.

    The truth is that public employees have done well at the expense of the taxpayers, and it is time to end that gravy train. There is nothing more noble or important about public employment generally that elevates it above private employment.

    Across the country there are examples of municipalities and states going bankrupt due to public employment expense. Is that what some wish for Virginia?

    • AV, the “contract” with the public employees is the agreement that was enacted when the VRS was set up. It’s the promise, from the state and local employers, that those funds would be there as an offset to the lower salaries paid to the employees. Now, after years of underfunding this system, Richmond has decreed that employeees must pay 5% into VRS – and exclusively the localiteis must fund a 5% salary increase to cover that. Pitiful budgeting, all around.

      You also overlook the fact that other things a teacher, or bus driver, or other employee might do (sponsor a club, coach a sports team) might have a stipend attached – but that money isn’t factored into the salary reported to VRS. So…those employees lose that little but, too…

      You can’t just scrap the VRS altogether, as you’ve got thousands of public employees at various steps on the VRS pipeline. This hybrid system, 1 track for current employees and 1 for new ones, seems to be a headache in the making…but perhaps it’s a step in the right direction. Until those in the current pipeline matriculate out, though (as in, they no longer draw funds in retirement), there will need to be money going in.

      Dial down your libertarian indignation a few notches…

      • Another View says:

        VRS is no more a contract than Social Security. It needs to be reformed and phased out!!!!

        And to complain about a 5 percent contribution when most every other American must fund their retirement 100 percent is just churlish!

        • The Apple says:

          The difference here is that they are MANDATED to put in 5 percent. In most retirement accounts, you can choose how much you want to put in.

          • Another View says:

            Well how sad. Public employees are not required to contribute to their own pension.

            How about this? How about we eliminate the entire VRS system? Then there will be no mandate for such a paltry contribution! And then public employees can either save for their retirement, or not! It will be entirely up to them! NO MANDATE! WOO HOO!!!!!!!!!!

          • Fly on the wall says:

            Clearly, you just love seeing your ridiculous rants in pixel form. Teachers, police officers, and other public employees were promised, many moons ago, that the state and localities would pay their portion of the VRS as an offset to the lower salaries they were going to be paid because they were public employees.

            The state has, under both political parties but more egregiously under the current VP-wannabe, under-funded this promise; Gov. McDonnell borroed some $650M from the fund to plug a hole last year, and has yet to pay that money back (despite crowing about a $550M “surplus” last year or the rosy revenue forecasts coming out of Richmond this year). This budget takers steps to fix the problem, but it put about $1B on the backs of the localities instead of Richmond doing what it’s promised to do all along. Not unlike the way this state “pays” for transportation needs and such.

            Again…this hybrid system looks to be a headache of a thing, but at least it has some potential. However, hybrid plan or no, the fact remains that there are thousands of folks currently in the VRS (retirees and those close to it) for whom your shoot-from-the-hip triteness would be most unfortunate if it were enacted (fortunately, for all of them, there ARE cooler heads in Richmond, despite their monkeyshines this year).

          • Another View says:

            Clearly you are shill for public employees! Fair enough.

            The payment of public pensions cannot continue. Pensions are a dinosaur, deserving of extinction. And where is it written that the taxpayer should be held hostage to the needs of public employees? Again, tax dollars should be considered precious, given that they are obtained by force, and not voluntarily given to the recipient.

            Public employees are not guaranteed, nor should they expect compensation on par with the private sector. That public employees now demand more is a fairly recent development that must be ended. Look at Greece; that is now California and soon to be the United States. Virginia is no more immune from the consequences of overly generous public spending than any other government. Prudence dictates that the VRS be phased out.

      • VRS has unfunded liabilities estimated to be $20B…it is a scam. They’ve been promised long ago that money would be set aside and they would be guaranteed a benefit. Guess what, the money has been spent and there are no guarantees in life.

        Why are cities, counties and perhaps states facing financial ruin —> public employee pensions and other guaranteed benefits. The plain reality is the math does not work!

        We should not bear the investment risk for public employee retirements. Each individual should bear the risk and in turn enjoy any gain as well.

        Public employees should not be held on a pedestal…I would argue they are less productive then those employed in the private sector by a long shot. Why??? Because there is no incentive to be productive…more money always comes during the next budget cycle. It’s really simple if you just stop and think about it.

      • VRS should not be an option for new employees starting immediately. Provide a 401k type plan and offer some small level of matching. We can no longer afford to pay for healthcare and retirement for public employees. Let them join the real world like everyone else and pay for their own healthcare and retirement.

        • Retired public employees pay their own healthcare…the full amount, with no locality portion. Current employees do pay for their own healthcare, outside the employer contribution.


          • We’re not talking about healthcare for retired employees…we’re talking about current employees.

            “Current employees do pay for their own healthcare, outside the employer contribution.”
            – Right…the employer contribution is a minimum of 85% to a maximum of 100%. So the employee at worst has to cover 15%….I’d take that deal all day long.

            The average private sector employee is lucky to get 50% covered by the employer…come on Travis.

            And how much of the “guaranteed” retirement benefit is the employee on the hook for???

    • luv-bville says:

      AV: You keeping using the phrase “gravy train” again and again and again. Why don’t you look into what an average parks and recreation employee earns or the average salary for a person at the government center is. That information is available to you. Once you do you will see it is barely enough to live on. So stop with “gravy train” non sense. I can respect your view if you want less government and less taxes but stop making it sound like the average public employee is living the easy life. No AV: I do not work for Clarke County.

      • Another View says:

        I suppose it is how you define the average government employee. But on average, government employees are currently making more than private sector counterparts. Moreover, private sector employees cannot obtain raises by force of law; government employees can.

        Furthermore, if government employees do not care for their compensation, they should leave government employ. There is no rule that they must remain working for the government. But my guess is that there are reasons that many do, and I find it interesting. Surely if government employment were not lucrative, it would be close to impossible to fill government positions. That does not seem to be the case now.

  9. Got-A-Dollar says:

    Did you feel the same when auto union contracts were renegotiated to save their jobs? And they contribute to their retirement plan.