Public hearing on assessment increase, council poised to adopt budget

Published 6:45 pm Monday, May 2, 2022

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Suffolk City Council will hold a public hearing Wednesday on what would be a 7.71% proposed citywide effective property tax increase if it adopts the lower real estate tax rate.  

Despite a proposed real estate tax that is two cents less than the current one — $1.09 per $100 of assessed value versus $1.11 per $100 of assessed value — the total assessed value of real property, not counting additional assessments due to new construction or property improvements, is 10.81% higher than last year. 

Because the increase exceeds a 1% increase, a public hearing is required. 

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According to a notice of the proposed real property tax increase, the city would need a tax rate of $1.012 per $100 of assessed value to keep real estate tax revenue level with last year. 

Based on the proposed real estate tax rate and changes in other revenues, the proposed budget, also set to be voted on during Wednesday’s council meeting, will have 10.1% more revenue than the current one. 

With nearly 37,000 residential parcels in the city, it represents a $21,184.93 average increase in value for each property. Median sales prices for homes increased 14.6% in 2021, from $295,000 to $338,100, according to a 2021 Real Estate Information Network market analysis report. 

Council held a public hearing on the proposed $767.6 million fiscal year 2023 budget at its April 20 meeting that is expected to be voted on Wednesday. 

The budget would also reduce the assessment ratio for cars and trucks and add 52 full-time positions. Cars and trucks under two tons would be assessed at 75% of their value instead of the current 100% due to the unprecedented 42% increase in the assessed value of light cars and trucks. 

The proposed budget would absorb an increase in tipping fees at the regional landfill, maintain the refuse fee at $25.25 monthly and keep the stormwater fee at $7.50 per equivalent residential unit. 

The water rate, however, would rise 12 cents, from $10.31 to $10.43 per cubic foot, and there would be a 50-cent increase in the meter service rate, which City Manager Al Moor has said would mean an average $1.10 per month increase. The sewer rate of $7.27 per cubic foot would remain unchanged, though it does not include any charges from the Hampton Roads Sanitation District. 

The proposed budget also includes $8.4 million in money for step increases that come in the wake of the city’s compensation study, and it fully funds the school division’s budget, though the school budget depends on what the General Assembly ends up doing with the state budget, and in particular, with the grocery tax.

It also fully funds the school division’s request of $67.3 million, a $2 million increase from the current budget. 

Of the 52 full-time positions to be added, 18 would go to Suffolk Fire & Rescue’s second phase of hiring for the new College Drive fire station, while 10 more positions would be split between the Parks and Recreation and the Planning and Community Development deparatments. 

The budget would also fully fund the $59.3 million of projects in the first year of the city’s capital improvement program and plan. 

Besides a vote to adopt the proposed effective rate increase, council will also vote Wednesday on its budget and other budget-related ordinances. 

View a copy of the proposed budget here. Get a copy of the budget presentation here.