By Linda Farneth
There is only one thing that is certain when it comes to politicians and accountants, you will never get a simple yes or no answer to your questions, from either one. That being said I will try to make this article as simple and accurate as possible.
In December Supervisor Larry Roberson hosted a town hall style meeting in Colonial Beach to inform residents how their county tax dollar are spent. He was joined by Westmoreland County Administrator Norm Risavi and Budget Manager Alexes Chatham.
The meeting was held at Colonial Beach Elementary School Gym and a crowd of about 20 residents showed up. Among the attendees were Town Manager Quinn Robertson, Mayor Eddie Blunt and various town council members. Also in attendance were the three incoming members, Robin Schick, Patrick Ey and of course Vicki Roberson. Superintendent of Colonial Beach Schools Dashan Turner and members of the School Board also attended.
Colonial Beach Residents pay a separate real estate and personal property tax to fund the specialized services they enjoy as residents of the densely populated small town. The town has their own council, town hall, planning and zoning office, financial office, schools and police. On top of that Colonial Beach is one of the last localities in Virginia to have both an all-volunteer Fire Department and Volunteer Rescue Squad.
Residents also pay taxes to Westmoreland County. Unfortunately they often don't get a breakdown of what their county taxes fund in detail. Supervisor Larry Roberson who represents the town (district 5) recently hosted a town hall style presentation to inform Colonial Beach Residents where their county tax dollars are spent.
First the group looked at the values of residential properties only in the town of Colonial Beach. These numbers only represent developed property and does not include vacant lots and business properties.
Residential Property Values in Colonial Beach
Residential parcels exclusively in the town total up to $450,315,700.
The breakdown of residential parcels is as follows:
- 280 homes in Colonial Beach are valued under $50,000.00
- 773 homes are valued between $50,001.00 and $100,000.00
- 696 homes are valued between $100,001.00 and $150,000.00
- 450 homes are valued between $150,001.00 and $200,000.00
- 174 homes are valued between $200,001.00 and $300,000.00
- 65 homes are valued at $300,001.00 and above
The last reassessment in 2016 there was an overall 17% reduction in residential properties for the county.
Since assessed values went down in the county the county real estate tax was increased to continue to generate the same revenue as before the assessment.
How each dollar is split up
The total Westmoreland County Adopted Budget, General Fund Balance for fiscal year 2019 is 28.4 million dollars.
For every dollar generated in taxes in Westmoreland County 4% goes to community colleges, 10.40 % goes to Public Works, 6.61% goes to Non-Departmental.
A total of 23.25 % Went to Public Safety, 4.95% went to Judicial Administration, 6.33 % went to Health and Welfare.
Community Development took up 2.07%, Parks and Recreation took up 1.71% and 10.16 % was spent on General Government Administration.
These areas represent a little over 65% of what each Westmoreland County tax dollar is spent on.
The meeting consisted of a slide presentation which Risavi and Chatham read off, highlighting some items and answering specific questions presented by the public.
Slide show is added as an attachment below.
Here are some of the highlights covered:
Of the 28.4 million dollars in the county's 2019 fiscal year budget $2,895,768 will go to County Administrative Offices.
$896,853.00 will fund the Circuit Court and $514,022.00 will fund the Commonwealth Attorney's Office.
Funding for the Sheriff's Office and Volunteer Fire Departments will be about 3.1 million and 2.7 million respectively. Emergency Services will receive $179,271.00 in funding. Refuse Collection totals 1,891,030.00.
The Health Department, Mental Health and Comprehensive Services make up the $1,802,650.00 total spent in Health and Welfare. Social services receives money from the State and the federal government, the county is obligated to match that money.
The County gives $33,763.00 to Museums and Library of History and $453,004.00 towards the funding of the Rappahannock Regional Library System. Norm Risavi said that does not include the Museum in Colonial Beach, “I don't believe we have ever received a request from Colonial Beach for funding.” The town can request money and the supervisors may approve funding.
In subsequent articles we will delve deeper into the county budget, how it affects Colonial Beach residents as well as how county taxes (collected for the school system from Beach residents) are handled in Colonial Beach.