In Williamsburg's proposed budget, property values and spending are higher

Staff writer

City Manager Andrew Trivette’s recently released proposed budget for the 2019-2020 fiscal year includes a $858,247 increase in spending and a 6 percent increase in the assessed value of real property in Williamsburg.

The proposed fiscal year 2020 budget, which will go to City Council for deliberation and a series of open forums, totals $68.28 million split across six funds.

The proposed general fund, which covers costs across all city departments, totals $35.06 million. Higher costs can be accounted for by a $175,004 increase in the city’s annual solid waste recycling costs, a $516,149 increase in departmental spending and a 2 percent cost of living pay increase for city staff, Trivette said.

Although the proposed budget doesn’t include any tax rate increases, property owners in the city could still see their tax bills increase. That’s because the proposed budget includes proceeds from a 6 percent increase in the assessed value of real property value in Williamsburg in the coming fiscal year.

The current year’s budget, which expires June 30, raised the real estate tax rate in the city by 3 cents per $100 of assessed value.

“There are two ways that our real property tax revenue can increase. The first is with a tax increase, so the City Council approves a tax rate increase and everybody’s bill goes up and they just pay more,” Trivette said. “The other way is for the assessed value of that same real estate to increase, and this year, that’s the situation that we’re in. We’re expecting an increase not to exceed 6 percent, city-wide.”

As Trivette explained, the average residential property in the city is valued at $332,050 and receives an annual tax bill of $1,992. The change would result in a tax bill increase of $56 for the average homeowner, he said.

The city manager’s proposed tourism fund totals $5.26 million. Revenues in the fund include the city’s $2 per night room tax, a $2.2 million transfer from the general fund and the city’s share of half of the SB 942 1 percent sales tax. $1.6 million of the tourism fund would be spent on tourism grants for new and existing events, which will be doled out following the recommendations of the newly created Tourism Development Fund Grant Review Committee.

Other tourism-related expenses include $800,000 in funding for the Greater Williamsburg Chamber and Tourism Alliance as mandated by SB 942, and a $1.3 million grant to fund the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation’s marketing efforts.

The capital improvement fund, the city’s five-year construction and roadwork spending plan, totals $16.5 million under the city manager’s proposed budget. As Trivette explained, new capital spending projects expected to enter initial planning phases in the coming years include the design and construction of a new city fire station at 912 Capitol Landing Road, which — along with the cost of necessary renovations at the existing city fire station on Lafayette Street — is expected to cost $11.2 million. About $3.5 million is budgeted toward the renovation of the city’s police station.

As W-JCC Schools weigh how to address capacity concerns, $303,950 would go toward the school system’s capital costs under the proposed budget.

City Council is expected to weigh possible modifications to the budget over the course of two work sessions and one regular meeting in April and May. Council may also hold an additional budget work session on April 15, if needed.

The board is expected to adopt a final budget at its May 9 meeting. Fiscal year 2020 will begin on July 1 and ends June 30, 2020.

Budget meetings with opportunities for public comment:

  • Work Session, 4 p.m. April 8
  • Regular meeting, 2 p.m. April 11
  • Budget work session if needed, April 15
  • Work Session, 4 p.m. May 6

All meetings will take place in the City Council chambers at Stryker Center, 412 N. Boundary St. To view the proposed fiscal year 2020 budget, visit bit.ly/2HAfQzM.

Arriaza can be reached at 757-790-9313 or on Twitter @rodrigoarriaza0.

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