WAYNESBORO, Va. (WVIR) - At 90 cents, Waynesboro has one of the lowest tax rates in the Commonwealth. But the City Manager says in his view, the city continues to fall short on meeting basic service demands on core services.
City Council wrapped up its second consecutive meeting Tuesday night talking about next year’s budget, the Capital Improvement Plan, and utility fees.
This year’s property reassessments mean more money for the city if they hold the line at 90 cents, but beyond that, Waynesboro City Manager Mike Hamp says local revenues are generally flat.
The proposed 2022 budget includes a 3% raise for city employees, money for the West End Fire Station, and some new positions.
It does not address wage and salary rates for city employees that are below market, nor several requested positions, including six firefighters and a dozen police positions. It also makes no headway on the city’s Capital Improvement Plan, including Sunset Park.
Councilmember Terry Short is suggesting the city assume debt to get the West End Fire Station and Sunset Park done. “The longer we wait, the more costly it’s going to become for taxpayers,” said Short. “And so while it might feel good to not entertain a borrowing it’s again, in the grand scheme of things, it’s a nominal investment for something that the taxpayers are expecting us to deliver.”
Councilmember Bruce Allen disagrees. “We have other debt that we’re gonna be borrowing in the next phase of the high school. If and when we start the connector road, we’re gonna have debt there. If the museum steps up, we’re gonna have debt there. If SOCA comes in, we’re gonna have debt there,” stated Allen. “We have a lot more pressing issues.”
City staff plan to gather more information about the idea and the city’s future debts and share it with City Council in a couple of weeks.
The city is also proposing an increase for sewer, storm water, and refuse fees, but no increase for water rates.
Waynesboro will hold a public hearing on April 26 on the tax rate, utility rates, and the budget. It will be at Waynesboro High School at 7 P.M.