Both Chesterfield and Henrico County officials are considering raising taxes to deal with rising costs. So which would you prefer- paying more to eat out, or to own your own home? Both counties are pondering tacking on a meals tax, or raising real estate taxes.
County leaders say they're always looking for ways to save money, but they worry 2015 will be a tough year budget-wise. Localities across the Commonwealth will be forced to pay more by the state, especially into the Virginia Retirement System on behalf of teachers. County administrators are searching for ways, now, to make up those millions.
Henrico anticipates a $33 million dollar budget shortfall in 2015, with nearly half of that coming from retirement payments. Chesterfield will need to find at least $10 million for VRS, and another $6 million for its massive school revitalization plan.
Officials say a one percent meals tax added in Chesterfield would earn the county an additional $3.8 million a year. In Henrico, a four percent meals tax hike would rake in $18 million.
"I think that means maybe less customers," said Yili Lee, owner of Shanghai Restaurant in Chesterfield.
Lee says the restaurant has done well for 29 years, but has struggled recently with the shaky economy. Lee says her business could suffer if prices go up.
"If (customers) have to pay more, that means they… cook at home, instead of going out, so it's going to put us out of business," feared Lee.
However, some would prefer a meals tax to rising real estate tax costs.
"I would rather do the meal tax than property tax, because (property tax) is kind of steep. That's something I can handle, a meal tax every now and again," said homeowner Jamelra Charity.
The counties are pondering raising property taxes by one or two cents per one hundred dollars of home value. That would mean a $200,000 home would cost about $40 more a year in taxes.
The only way to get a meals tax approved, at this point, is if the public votes to approve it. Possible meals and real estate taxes will be pondered in upcoming weeks by both counties, as they hash out budgets.
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