Back in Augusta County, the Board of Supervisors is poised to approve a 48¢ tax rate, a decrease from the current 58¢ rate that has been in effect since the 1980s. That is less than revenue neutral! A couple months ago a rowdy and rude mob - that's really not too strong a term - filled a public hearing to bash the supervisors. The other night only two people spoke up on the tax rate cut. Hum!
So, what will that mean? Well, some taxpayers, me included, will see a modest increase because of the new higher assessed value. But, let me emphasize modest. And my property is assessed a bit lower than a recent appraisal that was done for a refinance. I've heard from about a couple dozen homeowners who have "enjoyed" a similar epiphany.
Many farmers who have their property in land use taxation will actually see their taxes decrease significantly. Why - because agricultural and forestry lands are taxed on the land use value rather than the assessed value. Land use didn't change. Good for them - perhaps that will help preserve our farmland and open spaces.
Meanwhile, up the road in Harrisonburg, assessments are up 7.7%. Hey, weren't Augusta's up 28% or something like that? Yep, but this is apples and oranges... and figs, and grapes, and raspberries. How so?
Well, first of all Harrisonburg reassesses annually while Augusta is on a 4-year cycle. In short, Harrisonburg saw these increases in a year when the real estate market melted down! Most of the Augusta increases occurred in the first three years. Other differences - Harrisonburg's increases were driven by commercial property while the biggest uproar in Augusta was over agricultural land of which there is little in the city; some in Augusta never fully understood the land use part of the equation. The increases for homes in Harrisonburg generally ranged between 1% and 5%, but again that was in one year (a down year at that), not four.
So, even considering the apples and oranges and the figs and grapes... it seems to me that Augusta's reassessments were pretty much in line with actual values. Were there mistakes - sure; many of them. Remember this is a mass assessment for which the county paid about $15 per parcel - in short, it is a drive-by assessment. There was an appeals process (nearly everyone I've talked to who availed themselves of this opportunity got some relief) and there is an ongoing Board of Equalization.
What about raspberries? The raspberries are for the rude and mean-spirited #^$%*@&! who shouted at and badgered the supervisors. The most rotten raspberries are reserved for the self-serving Francis Chester and all who encouraged this demeaning of our government by the people for their own narrow purposes.