The Farmville Herald reached out to me Friday regarding a statement in regards to the proposed effective real estate tax rate increase in the proposed Fiscal Year 2020-2021 county operating budget. I am sharing my statement, along with additional comments on proposed school funding, with you in full should you have any questions or concerns.

First, I commend the County Administrator and her staff for working hard in putting together a budget that reflects the wants and needs of our county and its citizens.

Due to the reassessment of real property, the proposed budget reflects an effective real estate tax increase. This means that although the tax rate will remain at 55 cents, the increased revenue reflects the overall increase in values of property of about 10 percent. So the property values are driving the increase in what many people will pay in their taxes for their homes and real estate. This percentage may change based on appeals by landowners to the Board of Equalization. I implore and highly stress to any landowner who is unhappy with their reassessment to appeal to them.

There’s no doubt that COVID-19 has rocked our reality, our economy, and the livelihoods in our Commonwealth, including Buckingham. People here have lost their  incomes and jobs and their hours have been cut, and more will lose their jobs before this virus has run its course, I predict.

Just like any other business or family, the county has to live within its means, and that essentially means having enough money in the bank to operate. We’re operating in unprecedented times and in uncharted waters and I suspect our collection rate will take a hit. With less revenue coming in, it will likely unbalance our proposed budget, which would mean cutting our budget. 

While I do not support the effective tax increase, forecasting has already shown that the approved state budget over the next two years will have to be cut by at least $2 billion dollars. That cut will trickle down and affect Buckingham County.  State legislators are already considering putting employee increases on the chopping block. Such action will be just one of many financial consequences that we may see down the line. 

With this being said, I encourage constituents of the Maysville District to reach out to me via phone, email,  and social media and let me know what they think, keeping in mind social distancing and minimizing physical contact. I represent them, not my own ideas, and I encourage an open dialogue about this topic.

Proposed School Funding

Regarding proposed school funding for the Fiscal Year 2020-2021, the board, and myself, voted to advertise level funding to the school division. As I said earlier, I want to hear from you on the proposed school funding that is being proposed.

The school board is requesting an additional $80,000 in instruction. I am actively seeking clarification as to the purpose of the additional funding from school board staff so I can make an educated and informed decision on behalf of the taxpayers and voters in the Maysville District. I also have outstanding questions that I would like more information on. I am dedicated to supporting our public schools and our teachers, staff, administrators, and, most importantly, our students, but I am also dedicated to fiscal accountability and responsibility in order to keep our taxes low and fiscal burden on our residents at a minimum.

As always, you can email me at jmiles@buckinghamcounty.virginia.gov, or call/text me at 434-390-7023. I encourage and hope you will reach out and call or email me.

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