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Fauquier County supervisors approve county budget that raises taxes

Thursday, Apr. 3 | By Jonathan Hunley
Fauquier supervisors this afternoon approved a county budget for the next fiscal year that raises taxes while attempting to address concerns about education and public safety.

The vote for the $167.6 million general fund spending plan was unanimous.

"I really do think this is a good budget and a well-balanced budget," Supervisor Peter Schwartz said shortly before the vote.

The budget raises the real-estate tax rate from $0.98 per $100 of assessed value to $0.992 per $100.

County Administrator Paul McCulla in February proposed a $166.4 million general fund spending plan for the fiscal year that begins July 1.

McCulla's plan would have increased the real-estate tax rate a half-cent and included a 3/10 of a cent levy for the county to buy conservation easements to protect waterways, an idea aimed at cleaning the Chesapeake Bay.

That would have made for a tax rate of $0.988 per $100 of assessed value.

Supervisors instead ditched the conservation levy and switched to the $0.992 figure.

With that new rate and property values rising from the recent reassessment, the average tax bill will go up $118 in the next fiscal year.

The average single-family home in Fauquier — defined as one valued at $321,300 — would then have an annual tax bill of $3,187.

The county spending plan provides $80.8 million for the schools, including $420,000 to cover salary increases with an eye toward helping mid-career teachers make more money.

The budget also devotes about $554,000 to hiring four sheriff's deputies and provide them equipment and about $350,000 for four fire-and-rescue personnel.

Money for those additions to McCulla's plan would come from not spending on other line items, including laptops for sheriff's school-resource officers and a new building inspector position.

The Board of Supervisors had to approve a budget today so that real-estate tax bills can be mailed out on time.

Supervisors, however, didn't appropriate any money because county officials don't know exactly how much state funding the locality will get in the next fiscal year.

The General Assembly hasn't approved a spending plan for the state as legislators continue to tangle over the issue of Medicaid expansion.

Supervisors did vote unanimously to endorse a draft county budget for fiscal 2016, though.

It would include a tax rate of $0.999 per $100 of assessed value.

That action wasn't final, however. Additional votes on that budget and tax rate will need to be held a year from now.

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