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The Franklin News-Post
P. O. Box 250
310 Main Street, SW
Rocky Mount, Virginia 24151
Fax: 540-483-8013

UPDATED: Supervisors reject proposed tax increase

Friday, April 26, 2013

By CHARLES BOOTHE - Staff Writer

The real estate tax rate for Franklin County will remain the same for fiscal year 2013-14.

Supervisors voted 6-1 Tuesday evening to lower the proposed 2-cent tax increase from 56 cents on each $100 of assessed value to the current 54 cents.

All other taxes remained the same as well.

Blue Ridge Supervisor Bobby Thompson was the only vote against the motion to leave the tax rate as it is.

Thompson suggested a 1-cent increase, which would generate more than $600,000 a year.

The 2-cent increase would have meant more than $1.2 million, all earmarked for county schools.

All supervisors except Thompson said they had heard from their constituents, the majority of whom expressed disapproval for any tax increase.

"Given the current economic situation and uncertainty about revenue (in the future), at this stage I can't see taking a risk and approving a tax hike," said Gills Creek District Supervisor Bob Camicia.

That statement was echoed by other supervisors.

""We have to look at the whole picture," said Rocky Mount Supervisor Charles Wagner. "People have lost their homes and their jobs.I just can't support a tax increase."

"We asked our staff to balance the budget at 54 cents, and they did," said Boone District Supervisor Ronnie Thompson. "I can't support a tax increase."

"People are struggling to make ends meet," said Chairman David Cundiff. "We can't put an extra burden on families."

The total county budget next fiscal year will be about $124 million with the school budget at $78.9 million.

Without the extra $1.2 million the school system requested that would have come with the tax hike, school officials have said cuts will have to take place for fiscal year 2013-14.

In a discussion of the proposed school budget last month, schools Finance Director Lee Cheatham said no tax increase would present a "worst-case scenario" as far as cuts are concerned.

Ranking the cuts in terms of impact on instruction, the most serious cuts in this scenario would include cutting four resource teacher positions ($259,127) and cutting three technology resource teachers ($150,000).

Other cuts in this worst-case scenario include pay-to-play fees for athletics and marching band ($56,450), a 30-percent cut in athletic supplies ($33,000), a reduction in the number of slots in the Roanoke Valley Governor's School by 12 ($49,152), and the restructuring of a special needs program at Benjamin Franklin Middle School ($76,829).

Also, five social worker positions would be cut ($295,652), individual school budgets would be cut ($97,334) and the gifted and talented program would lose 20 percent of its funding ($12,750).

The school board will meet May 1 to discuss the budget for next year.

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