Bath Supervisors Raise County Meals Tax To Four Percent
Warm Springs, Va – Bath County’s meals tax is going up to 4%. At Tuesday night’s Bath Board of Supervisors meeting, the board unanimously voted to raise the tax from 1% to 4%. The board had been considering raising the meal tax as it worked on the next year’s budget.
During the public hearing on the proposed change Tuesday night eight people spoke and no one spoke against raising the tax to 4%. Speakers said that you pay a meals tax just about everywhere you go and an increase will bring in needed revenue that will help keep property taxes from being affected. Supervisor Stuart Hall said that raising the tax to 4% could help offset a property tax increase and that the board promised people that before raising property taxes, the board would raise the meals tax.
Supervisor Richard Byrd said originally he never supported the meals tax, but will support it’s increase now because it’s at the point where it’s either real estate taxes or the meals tax that has to be increased. He also pointed out that many meals in Bath are sold to people who are not residents, so the tax will not be solely supplied by residents. The 4% rate goes into effect July 1.
Also on Tuesday night, the board held a public hearing on the proposed real estate and personal property tax rates for fiscal year 2011-2012. The current tax rate is 55 cents per $100 of assessed value, but the board is considering lowering it to 50 cents to offset increased property values from the recent reassessment. A neutral tax rate of 46 cents would bring property taxes down to what they were this year for most homeowners.
But the 46 cent tax rate will also reduce the taxes from the Dominion Power pump storage station by about $289,000 less that it paid this year. During the public hearing, eight people spoke in favor of reducing the rate to 46 cents, citing the bad economy and the difficulty those on fixed incomes are experiencing. One speaker proposed setting the rate at 48 cents which would have Dominion Power paying the same amount of taxes next year as it’s paying now.
Supervisor Carol Hardbarger said she wants to hear from more people about the tax rate. She said she’s concerned that at 46 cents, the county will have to take money out of reserves to pay expenses, which is a practice that the auditor cautioned against. Supervisor Percy Nowlin said the money from Dominion Power needs to keep coming in because 65% of real estate taxes in Bath are paid by Dominion Power, The Homestead and The Homestead Preserve. Supervisor Stuart Hall said the budget can be balanced at the 46 cent rate.
He added that the reserve fund balance can be less than what it is now, because this year the county received an unexpected 2 million dollars from the state. The board will continue discussion on the tax rate and may vote on it at it’s June meeting.