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Supervisors eliminate special tax rate for U.S. 17 businesses
Date published: 5/3/2012
Some businesses on U.S. 17 in Stafford County will pay less in taxes this year.
The additional real-estate tax in the Warrenton Road Service District was eliminated--cut from a rate of 9.9 cents per $100 of assessed value to nothing.
The Board of Supervisors voted 6-1 Tuesday night on the amendment to the county's 2012 tax rates. Payments are due in June.
When it was implemented in July 2007, the revenue generated in the special tax district was to fund road or other transportation in the area in southern Stafford.
However, state and federal funds now cover costs for the 2-mile U.S. 17 widening project that will add a third lane in each direction west of Interstate 95. Construction could start in winter 2013.
Supervisor Gary Snellings said the local tax is no longer needed for its original purpose. Businesses in the district also pay the regular personal-property tax.
"I cannot support collecting a tax without knowing what the tax will be used for," Snellings said at Tuesday's board meeting. "Bring us a project that we think is vital and I'll certainly consider going back to a tax to support it."
Snellings was also against the proposed Sebring Connector, which would offer a parallel route from the Target-anchored Carter's Crossing west to Plantation Drive.
Taxing businesses on U.S. 17 and then using the funds to allow for development on an alternate route is not right, Snellings said.
Last year, the added 9.9-cent tax rate brought in $680,000 to the county.
The fund balance at the end of the fiscal year will be at $2.4 million, enough to cover federally required bike lanes on U.S. 17 and improvements to Sebring Drive, according to county documents.
The equalized tax rate would have been reduced to 9.6 cents per $100 of assessed value, while the county's proposed budget called for a 5-cent tax rate.
Supervisor Cord Sterling, also a member of the Commonwealth Transportation Board, worried about the effect of decreasing revenue for county transportation projects.
"Route 17 is a model of the problems in terms of transportation infrastructure," Sterling said. "I hate to go to the Route 17 area for business because it takes so long to access any of the businesses along there in peak hours."
Supervisor Jack Cavalier said the board could eliminate the tax for just one year. The service district remains in place.
"It's not something we can't make up," Cavalier said.
Supervisor Paul Milde voted against the tax cut. He had suggested cutting the rate in half.
Another proposed change to the county's tax policies involved the use of real-estate recordation fees, which brought in about $715,000 last year.
The county has traditionally used this money for transportation projects, though it can also be split with the schools.
Supervisors voted to keep the fees solely for the county's transportation fund.
Katie Thisdell: 540/735-1975