Henrico County leaders are finding it hard to digest an $18-million budget deficit. They hoped a meals tax bill would help. But with a "No" from the General Assembly, it has them looking for other options.
One idea includes increasing the real estate tax for homeowners.
If you take a look around Henrico County, it's growing. There are new schools, new fire houses and more people moving in.
Sallie Rhett is a realtor who's been busy. "We're back in a multiple offer situation, people are flocking to good listings and sellers are doing well," she said.
But as the area expands, the county budget is not.
"We've very lean and now we need to look at how we're going to finance the future," says Pat O'Bannon, Tuckahoe supervisor and Board of Supervisors vice-chairperson.
The future includes trying to close an $18.5 million budget gap.
The Board of Supervisors hoped a local meals tax would help, but the bill was killed in the General Assembly. Now, county leaders are looking at other options including increasing the real estate tax.
"Those are some of the very very hard decisions," say O'Bannon.
Right now, Henrico homeowners pay $.87 cents for every $100 of the assessed value. The county manager says the rate could increase by $.06.
So how does this break down?
Let's say you're home is worth $250,000, you're probably paying about $2,175 a year for your real estate tax. Now if this proposed increased goes through, you would end up paying about $150 more a year to make it $2,325 a year. While some may not think that's too much, according to the Henrico County's Real Estate Division, the last time Henrico was paying a rate like this was about a decade ago.
Tuckahoe supervisor O'Bannon wants people to voice their opinion now.
"Tell us where we should cut services because unfortunately that's where we are now," she said.
There will be a meeting on February 25th at the Tuckahoe Area Library at 7 p.m. to discuss the county's budget. County Manager John Vithoulkas will be there. Other town hall meetings will be schedule soon as well.
Leaders want to emphasize that so far, the county has not made any layoffs even in this tough economy.
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