Supervisors lower tax rate on vehicles 12.5%, ‘residential farms’ approved, and job fair April 29

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LURAY, April 18 — During Monday night’s meeting, the Page County Board of Supervisors took two votes before lowering the personal property tax rate on vehicles, while leaving all other levies the same for the upcoming fiscal year that begins July 1.

The supervisors also took advantage of a new bill signed by Gov. Glenn Youngkin that allows local governments to split personal property tax levies, setting one rate for vehicles and another for all other personal property. The new legislation is aimed at countering the impact of skyrocketing values for used vehicles on taxpayers.

On Monday, the board voted, 4-2, to lower the personal property tax rate on vehicles from $4.40 to $3.85 per $100 of assessed value — a 12.5 percent reduction — while leaving the levy on all other personal property at $4.40.

Other tax rates (per $100 of assessed value) left the same as the current fiscal year include:

• Real estate — $0.73

• Machinery and Tools — $1.50

• Motor carriers — $1.50

• Aircraft — $0.50

The board of supervisors were not required to hold a public hearing on the tax levies because they reflected no increases for FY23. There were no speakers on Monday, however, at a public hearing on the county and school budgets. Overall, Page County’s proposed $89.96 million budget reflects an $11.45 million increase (about 14.6 percent) over the current budget. Supervisors must wait at least seven days following a public hearing to adopt a budget.

Monday’s first motion on the tax rates submitted by District 5 supervisor Jeff Vaughan proposed even deeper cuts — lowering the vehicle tax rate from $4.40 to $3.80 and the rate on all other personal property from $4.40 to $4. The proposal would have cut revenues by nearly $1.8 million and the majority of the board felt that gap couldn’t be closed in the current proposed FY23 budget.

The second motion on the tax rate submitted by District 1 representative Keith Guzy only reduced the rate on vehicles. Vaughan and District 2 supervisor Allen Louderback were the only dissenting votes, both noting a need to lower all property tax rates in order to help local businesses.

The reduction in the vehicle tax will create the need to reduce expenditures by hundreds of thousands of dollars in the proposed FY23 spending plan. The recently advertised county budget for the next fiscal year — which reflects no changes in tax rates, in terms of revenue — shows the county fully funding the local request from the school division. While supervisors are anticipating higher revenues from the Battle Creek Landfill and potentially higher revenues from vehicle taxes (even with the tax rate reduction), there will likely be cuts from the advertised budget in the coming weeks.

The board of supervisors is expected to adopt the county’s final FY23 budget on Monday, May 2. The school board will then make any final adjustments after state and local funding are set, and adopt their final budget for the division on Thursday, May 12. Both local governing bodies are awaiting a final biennium state budget to be delivered by the General Assembly, who will reconvene for a second special session on the two-year spending plan next week.

On Monday, supervisors also approved a Personal Property Tax Relief Act (PPTRA) rate of 23 percent for 2022. The Act allows a percentage of tax relief on personal-use vehicles valued at $20,000 and less. The recommended rate is brought to the board each year by Commissioner of Revenue Becky Smith.

For additional information regarding the proposed budget, see the April 18 agenda packet at www.pagecounty.virginia.gov/AgendaCenter.

In other business at their April 18 meeting, the Page County Board of Supervisors did the following:

• Held a joint public hearing with the Page County Planning Commission to consider amendments to the Page County Zoning Ordinance to allow the raising of livestock in residential zones, with particular exemptions for youth livestock projects. The hearing drew 10 speakers all in favor of the amendment, including local 4-H members and their parents. The measure adds the definition of a “residential farm” as a permitted use, allowing the temporary keeping of livestock as an educational project approved and sponsored by youth organizations including the 4-H Livestock Club and Future Farmers of America.
Following the hearing, the Page County Planning Commission unanimously recommended approval, and the supervisors unanimously agreed. The amendments to the Zoning Ordinance added new definitions for livestock, poultry, companion animal, domestic/domesticated animal, apiary, animal unit, gardening, residential farm, agricultural animals and principal structure; amending the definition of “dwelling”; and adding the use of “residential farm” as a permitted use and “residential farm” supplemental regulations. The adoption of the amendments culminates about two years of work on the ordinance.

• Conducted a public hearing to consider a Special Use Permit (SUP) application submitted by Roger Bogner to operate a home occupation in an accessory building on Bixlers Ferry Road in Luray. The hearing drew no speakers. Supervisors unanimously approved the request with SUP conditions to allow for the stained glass studio with retail sales two to three days a week.

• Unanimously approved appropriation requests totaling $159,000, including $39,000 in Federal funds and $120,000 in local funds. The changes increase the County’s General Fund budget by $69,000 and the Airport Hangar Fund by $90,000.

• Approved a transfer request that reduces Page County Public Schools’ Operating Budget by $600,000 and increases the County’s General Fund by $600,000. The change follows the County assuming the school system’s equipment lease (J&J Controls), which increases the County’s fiscal year 2022 debt service by $600,000. District 2 supervisor Allen Louderback requested a report on the energy-saving contract to show how much the county is actually saving after millions spent during the nine years county schools have participated in the agreement.

• Heard a report from Page County Administrator Amity Moler that staff recently explored livestreaming and video hosting options for board meetings, including checking government websites throughout the state to see which platforms other localities utilize. By consensus Supervisors approved the Administration’s recommendation to move forward with plans to use a video streaming and storage service through Civic Media, an add-on to the County’s website host, Civic Plus. The service will allow the County to livestream and archive meetings at PageCounty.Virginia.gov using existing equipment.

• Heard a report from the county administrator of an upcoming job fair and workshop that the County’s Economic Development and Tourism Office is involved with through partnership with the Luray-Page County Chamber of Commerce and other local and regional organizations. The Page County Job Fair and Workshop is scheduled for 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Friday, April 29, at Lord Fairfax Community College’s Jenkins Hall on the west end of Luray just off Route 211.

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