New taxes, fees loom

Published 10:23 pm Saturday, June 25, 2011

A Suffolk resident who owns two cars and whose home was worth $250,000 in 2010 will be paying nearly $300 more in taxes and fees in the coming fiscal year.

The new fiscal year starts July 1, and that kicks a variety of new or rising charges into gear, including a 6-cent real estate tax increase, a new monthly trash fee and a hike in vehicle license fees.

A home worth $250,000 in 2010 netted a $2,275 tax bill for its owner. That same home, based on the 3-percent average decline in assessments, is worth only $242,500 today, but brings with it a tax bill of $2,352.25 — a rise of $77.25, thanks to the tax hike.


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The vehicle license fee for a car under 4,000 pounds rose from $20 to $26, meaning a two-car family will pay $12 more for the privilege of owning its vehicles. The car tax is not rising.

But the biggest rise in the average homeowner’s bill will be the new trash fee. City Council is expected to set it at $17.50 per month at its next meeting.

City officials say the new fee is needed to implement a citywide recycling program, prepare for the eventual demise of the Southeastern Public Service Authority, maintain the property at the Hosier Road landfill and more.

But it hasn’t been popular with residents, who will pay $210 per year for a service that they used to pay for through their general taxes.

All those hikes add up to $299.25. Water and sewer rates also are rising, but the bill for those utilities will vary widely, depending on each family’s usage.

A few other fees, although for services less widely used, also are going up.

If you need an ambulance ride, for example, you may have another heart attack when you get the bill. The charge for basic life support has risen to $400 from $350. Advanced Life Support Level II services now cost $650. And the charge per mile to take you to the hospital has risen to $8.50 from $8.

If it ever did before, crime certainly doesn’t pay now. The cost of being prosecuted by the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office for a misdemeanor has tripled to $7.50 — only a small amount of what you’ll wind up paying if you’re found guilty. A felony charge will get you a $20 fine, in addition to what you’ll already owe in imprisonment, restitution and other charges.

If you’re part of a civic group that meets at a library, your group now will have to cough up $10 per hour to use the space, something that previously didn’t cost anything.

All these new fees got you down? Take heart — if your check to the treasurer’s office bounces, you’ll only owe $35 for a returned check fee. That would have cost you $50 last year.