SWAC Girl (a.k.a. Lynn Mitchell) reports that the Augusta County Board of Supervisors will reexamine the quadrennial real estate assessment. Given that the last assessment was in 2005, Augusta’s assessments initially were slated for a 33% increase. When local residents hit the roof, the Board agreed to a do-over, the results of which will be released tomorrow.
From what Lynn reports, the assessments will still rise. Given that the last assessment was two and a half years before the housing bubble burst, that’s understandable.
The locals’ reaction is just as understandable, especially considering the Augusta hadn’t equalized its tax rate (i.e., reduced it to account for higher property values in over twenty-five years.
The Supervisors who has tried hardest to postpone the assessment and spare the taxpayers – Tracy Pyles, the Board’s lone Democrat – called for equalization in response to any assessment increase. None of the majority Republicans reacted in the Waynesboro News Virginian piece cited by Lynn.
The last time assessments were made (2005, and they rose), the Republicans had four of seven seats on the Board – but they didn’t equalize the tax rate. This time, however, the rest of the state is watching.
This isn’t just about Augusta – which was one of the few counties the GOP swept last November (yes, even Jim Gilmore carried it). If what is arguably the most Republican county in the Commonwealth ends up with a tax increase, it will be much easier for other counties in Virginia to hit up their taxpayers for more money. Moreover, the State Senator the represents Augusta (Emmett Hanger) has been using local government “needs” as his excuse to support tax increases in 2004, 2006, and 2007.
The Republican Party began its political recovery in Virginia during last summer’s special session, and it started to bear fruit last night. Will the Augusta Republicans on the Board of Supervisors keep up the momentum? Or will they turn the party back toward the wilderness of higher taxes, angry activists, and libertarians defecting to the Democrats?
We’ll see in the coming weeks.