BLACKSBURG — The town is proposing a budget of $97.2 million for the next fiscal year, an increase of nearly 10%, not including capital project funding and debt payments.
The proposal calls for no change to the town’s real estate tax rate.
Town Manager Marc Verniel met with The Roanoke Times this week to go over various budget points. Among the points he highlighted are some of the challenging economic factors he said the town continues to wade through as it plans for the next year.
“We’re facing inflation we haven’t seen in decades,” he said.
Revenues also reflect the town starting to come out of the pandemic, Verniel said.
The town projects in the proposed budget a revenue increase of over $1 million from the meals tax, a key funding stream for the town and one of several service related taxes it collects.
People are also reading…
“People are going out to eat again,” Verniel said, adding that food costs have also gone up.
The town is projecting $7.1 million in meals tax revenue for the fiscal year that starts on July 1, an annual amount higher than any of the ones since the start of the pandemic in 2020. That figure is also higher than the $5.9 million the town got from the meals tax during the 2018-2019 fiscal year.
The proposed budget calls for an unchanged real estate tax rate of 26 cents per $100 of assessed value. However, due to Montgomery County’s completion of its quadrennial reassessment this past fall, many town residents can expect to see their property tax bills go up in the near future.
The reassessment — a process where the value of all properties across the county is recalculated — saw property values go up by an average of 30%, according to figures previously shown by the county.
While the Blacksburg Town Council will have some discussions over the tax rate, Verniel said one reason a rate change isn’t being proposed is due simply to the town having a far lower rate than the county.
The county currently has a rate of 89 cents, an amount its own officials are proposing to substantially trim to 73 cents.
Historically, or at least within the past several decades, Blacksburg has almost entirely avoided cutting its real estate tax rate.
The last time the town cut its rate—a one penny reduction—was during the 1980s, Verniel said.
With the proposed 73 cents, which its officials could still reduce, the county would see one of its biggest tax rate cuts since the turn of the century. County officials, however, said 73 cents would still amount to an increase of 4.3% over the revenue-neutral rate because of the latest reassessment.
Blacksburg’s budget also calls for increases to the water, sewer and solid waste and recycling rates, hikes that would translate to an average utility bill increase of $5.40 per month, Verniel said.