Editorial: Budget season is approaching, along with the possibility of a tax increase
As the transition into 2018 is underway, local schools and governments are ramping up in preparation for the budget season. And with the budget cycle in full swing, both citizens in Charles City and New Kent can expect a tax raise.
In Charles City, a reprieve from a tax raise took place last year. The local government has also did a good job negotiating the payment of loans for the proposed Charles City Library to take place once all payments for the county courthouse are complete. That move in itself has saved local taxpayers about four cents.
But in my opinion, a hike will come in Charles City in efforts to support Fire/EMS support and meeting DEQ (Department of Environmental Quality) requirements at wastewater plants. Charles City is currently one of only a few localities that has all volunteer firefighters to assist with calls. Those firefighters need training and support. Often, nearby jurisdictions offer support for mutual aid. At some point though, that has to be minimized.
Ideas have been floated around about having a mutual agreement to have New Kent support Charles City with their Fire/EMS services and have the latter financially support them. While that may be a good idea, we all must remember that New Kent will prioritize their calls before Charles City, even if they are compensated for their services.
Regarding the wastewater plants, they have entered replacement phases and are finally meeting DEQ requirements. The road has been a long, turbulent one as old facility rotted and caused natural water tables to be polluted. The Mt. Zion plant is scheduled to be completed within the first quarter of the year, finally relieving their problems in that area of Charles City.
In New Kent, a tax raise has been budgeted for several years with the expectation of a new elementary school to be constructed. The government has done a good job spacing out the addition of its one-cent increase. With the proposal to take out a $20 million loan for the facility in this year’s Capital Improvement Plan, the tax increase is following the original direction set several years ago. One-cent is scheduled for this year and another penny is tabled for 2019-2020.
Yes, we are expecting a tax raise but this year, I believe it’s going to good causes and support. Until industry begins to pop up in Charles City and a firm population control for New Kent’s steady growth is handled, citizens will have to foot the bill for a little while longer. But for this year, if it makes the counties safer or provides a better educational environment, I think adding a penny or two won’t be a hard thing to argue against.