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Montgomery County supervisors must remember the mistakes of the past and prepare for the future.
Wednesday, April 10, 2013
Montgomery County supervisors will vote Monday on a budget for the upcoming fiscal year that incorporates a modest real estate tax increase to make a down payment on future school construction needs.
With recent history as its guide, the board should adopt the spending plan developed by County Administrator Craig Meadows.
Increasing the real estate rate by two cents to 89 cents per $100 of assessed value would generate $1.4 million, which the county would set aside for future school capital projects. That could avert a repeat of the jolt county taxpayers got last year, when the board approved a 12-cent hike in the real estate rate. Much of the increase went to support debt service on two new high schools and a middle school renovation.
No one on the board could have anticipated the roof collapse at Blacksburg High School three years ago. But, as Supervisor Mary Biggs pointed out Monday night, previous boards could have done a better job of funding school maintenance and taking a longer view of the county’s facility needs.
“We did lower the tax rate after reassessment,” Biggs said. “We didn’t plan for the future, and we weren’t proactive.”
Biggs said she didn’t agree with that approach.
Recalling the Blacksburg High roof collapse, she said, “we can’t do that anymore.”
As Meadows stated in his budget message last month, the county “must begin to set aside revenues now in order to avoid substantial real estate tax rate increases in the future.”
Supervisor Bill Brown said he hopes the current board will be thought of as “forward looking” for setting aside funds to cover needs that supervisors already can anticipate. The board has a chance to look forward and step up on Monday.
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