Supervisors Firm on Revenue Neutral Tax Rate

After a long budget season that featured predicted school layoffs and pay raises, outside-of-the-box budget thinking and ended with a $1.4M budget deficit, the Clarke County Board of Supervisors remained true to their commitment to keep the county’s budget “revenue neutral” for fiscal year 2012.

Absent any changes between today and a scheduled public hearing, the Supervisors plan to approve the following rate changes:

    2010 Tax Rate Proposed 2011 Tax Rate ($ per $100 of Assessed Valuation)
Real Estate 0.62     0.62        
Personal Property 4.83     4.69        
Machinery & Tools 1.25     1.25        


“Even though the personal property rate has gone down this year it will bring in the same amount of revenue” Supervisor John Staelin (Millwood) remarked during discussion over the budget numbers. “This is a revenue neutral budget.”

Although Clarke’s budget deficit is $1.4M, that amount includes roughly $1.12M in what Supervisors have termed “pay-as-you-go” projects. The projects include conservation easement funding ($150K), CCPS operating carryover ($247K), construction debt service ($258K), park master plan ($100K) and a senior center / park office ($400K).

“Pay-as-you-go” projects are being funded partially out of one-time money set aside in previous funding years. So although the FY2012 budget deficit equals $1.4M, the unfunded portion of the budget is only $258K, an amount that the Supervisors believe can be made up over the course of the coming year. A last minute budget adjustment to the Clarke County Sheriff’s Department pushed the deficit from $248K to $258K when the Commonwealth of Virginia failed to provide funding from its Public Safety Fund fee after the amount had been budgeted but ultimately not approved.

Supporting documents used in the Clarke County budget process will be available on the county’s website beginning on March 16th.

A public hearing on the budget is planned for April 5th at 7:30pm at the Joint Government Center.

March 16, 2011 – Additional budget data:


  1. Lonnie Bishop says:

    So…the personal property rate goes down 14 cents, but it will bring in the same amount? How is that possible, if all personal property (cars, trucks, tractors, etc.) depreciates over time? Additionally, how is this budget “revenue neutral” if the rate doesn’t change but real estate values have dropped some 11%? Would that not mean that tax revenues based on those values would also decrease?

    • Bill Bell says:

      Lonnie – Good questions. Hope this helps.

      A lower PP tax rate can remain revenue neutral if the total value of personal property has gone up. (i.e. more cars or newer cars replacing older cars)

      Real estate tax valuations only change every 4 years when reassessed. There was no reassessment last year so the same tax rate = the same revenue.

      No increases are how the supervisors endear themselves to the electorate in an election year.

      • Mr Mister says:

        So how do potential candidates endear themselves? Just ask’n.

        • Tony Parrott says:

          Come in with a plan! Raise county revenue without raising the real estate tax rate. If someone can do that (or at least promise to do that) they will be golden.

      • Where would one find the amount of real-estate tax revenues from 2009 and 2010 posted?

        CDN Editor: Please see additional information now posted with original story. Information adapted from “FY2011 Clarke County Budget Process” document dated 3-11-2011 10:59.

        • Thanks CDN!

          So, the Budgeted Revenue is expected to go down? FY10 Actual Revenues were $41 million. If they’re expected to go down almost $5 million, then how is keeping the real estate tax rate the same considered “Revenue Neutral”?

          • Bill Bell says:

            You need to compare FY’11 (which ends this June) with FY’12 (which begins this July). FY’10 is irrelevant. I believe the tax rates compared at the beginning of the article should have been labeled “2011 & proposed 2012” tax rates.

            Right CDN?

          • And I say that it doesn’t matter what year we’re talking about. A $5 million difference in revenues from one year to the next is NOT revenue neutral.