Archived Story

Fees, taxes on the way up

Published 9:33pm Tuesday, April 9, 2013

By Lorraine Yuriar

The budget presented to City Council at its last work session not only raises our real estate property taxes, it will also increase our water and sewer bills.

The city has decided to pay for the water projects in the capital improvements plan by raising the fees on your water and sewer. This way, they can claim to keep property taxes low, but still get more money from the citizens. The water usage fee will increase 9.9 percent, while the sewer fee will increase 8.8 percent.

If you have a water bill that averages about $220 every two months, this increase will cost you another $22 every two months. That’s $132 extra a year.

Real estate taxes are determined by the value of your property. For every $100 of assessed value, you are currently paying 97 cents. This year’s proposed budget would increase the real estate tax by six cents. So if your home is currently assessed at $175,000, your new tax bill would be $1,802.50 — $105 more than last year.

Keep in mind also that the more money the city says your property is worth, the more money it can collect from you in taxes on it. This is why there are a few developers and a hotel currently bringing lawsuits against the city for inflated property tax assessments for the last several years.

By the way, this property tax increase will affect renters too. When your landlord’s tax bill for the home you are renting increases, where do you think he will get the money to pay it? Take a good look at your current assessment. Is there any way you could sell your property at that price today? If not, call the assessor’s office and ask to have your assessment adjusted.

City Council has proven that it is listening to us. It has already deferred two major projects the people said should be ditched. We cannot back down now.

All of us, when faced with the prospect of earning less money this year than last, are forced to cut our budgets and make do with less. Yet when the city is faced with less money, council raises our taxes and keeps right on spending. It’s time for City Council to tighten the city’s financial belt and make some tough choices.

Call your councilman. Let him know that this water/sewer fee increase is an outrageous tax on the hardworking people of Suffolk. Tell him the 6-cent increase in property taxes is unacceptable in today’s economy. But most important, show up to the next council meeting, April 17 at 7 p.m. at City Hall.

Get there early, and bring signs. Be prepared to stay for the long haul.

We must make our voices the loudest in the room in order to make sure that the City Council, the city manager and even the School Board hear our message.

Lorraine Yuriar is a homeschooling mom of three and the social media contact for the Suffolk Chapter of the Hampton Roads Tea Party. Email her at thekytikat@yuriar.com.

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