Supervisors take hard look at proposed tax increases

Quinton Sheppard - Posted on Apr 10, 2013 - 02:25 PM

Gloucester supervisors came to a consensus during a work session April 3 to keep the county’s boat tax at $1 per $100 of assessed value. The decision was made prior to the county’s budget adoption, which is scheduled for Tuesday night during a meeting that will begin at 7 o’clock in the colonial courthouse.

Board members also seemed leery of raising the real estate tax rate, which combined, could force up to $2.1 million to be cut out of the county’s proposed fiscal year 2013-14 budget.

The board of supervisors adjourned the meeting, which was held in the colonial courthouse, taking home information to make tough decisions on what they are willing to cut from the county’s budget in order to minimize or eliminate a tax increase.

County administrator Brenda Garton’s proposed $138 million fiscal year 2014 budget calls for a four-cent increase in the county’s real estate tax rate, as well as a $1.95 increase in the rate at which boats are assessed.

Garton said each penny of the real estate tax generates approximately $400,000 in additional revenue ($1.6 million for four cents), while the increase in the boat tax would add roughly $600,000 to the county’s coffers.

VIMS marine business and coastal development specialist Tom Murray was invited to the meeting to speak on the economic impact that raising the boat tax $1.95 may have on the community. Though he said the relationship is very complex, raising the tax rate on boats impacts the larger vessels more than the smaller ones.

Murray said it is his hope to see consistency among the localities "to level the playing field" for the business community.

He also said there are a variety of factors that guide a boat owner in where to house a vessel, such as amenities and proximity to their favorite fishing spots. "It may not just be the tax rate," Murray said.

Petsworth district supervisor John Northstein said people he has talked to across the county are not happy with the proposed increase in the boat tax.