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Stafford’s proposed 2025 budget hits the $1B milestone

by | Feb 21, 2024 | ALLFFP, Government, Schools & Education, Stafford

In the latest development concerning Stafford’s “elementary school No. 19,” the county’s board of supervisors on Tuesday passed a resolution to send a letter to the school board in which they’ll request that no additional money be spent on the proposed Brooke Point site and that another vote instead be held on an Embrey Mill location preferred by a majority of the supervisors.

During the discussion, supervisor Crystal Vanuch (Rock Hill district) revealed that a parcel of land at Embrey Mill had just been transferred to the county.

“Now that the school board has that in their remittance,” said Vanuch, “they may be able to reconsider the location…and not use not having that property in the county’s possession as an excuse?” 

“I’m trying to give them every opportunity to fix what they’ve done wrong without pulling the nuclear option on them,” Vanuch said.

The vote was five in favor, with Tinesha Allen (Griffis-Widewater) abstaining and Monica Gary (Aquia) voting against.

The debate over a new elementary school coincides with a steadily growing student population throughout the county. Also at Tuesday’s meeting, county administrator Randy Vosburg said that the county has seen a 10% increase in students from 2010 to 2019.

“Stafford is projected to remain the only NOVA locality to grow in student populations over the next five years,” Vosburg said.

Proposed budget for FY2025 tops $1 billion

Stafford County administrator Randy Vosburg presented a proposed budget of just over $1 billion for fiscal year 2025 to the board of supervisors Tuesday. This year marks the implementation of the 2040 Strategic Plan’s new five-year priorities. The budget includes substantial investments in education and jobs. 

“The largest piece of the pie,” said Vosburg during his presentation, “is 62% for the schools, debt service and capital.” The full proposed FY2025 budget can be viewed on the county’s website. The board will vote on the budget in April. 

Property taxes remain the county’s most significant source of revenue, followed by state funds. The county’s median home market price is $499,900 and the median household income is $128,036. 

The county anticipates a continued surge in property values, which are expected to reach a total of $27.4 billion. This growth can be attributed to the investments made in infrastructure and data center projects.

“These numbers continue to amaze me as they climb,” Vosburg said. “I think the only one that did not climb is the unemployment rate—so that’ a good thing.” 

Real estate reassessments go out

An earlier presentation by the commissioner of revenue, Scott Mayausky, presented an update to the county’s biennial real estate assessment. Residential properties have increased 13% on average, while commercial properties are up 23%.

“What we are seeing in our office is there’s low inventory still on the market,” county assessor Bart Stevenson said. “There’s not a lot of sales, yet there’s still steady demand out there. That’s keeping prices elevated.” 

Stevenson said this is the first time that the county has been valued in excess of $27 billion.

Homeowners should have received their property reassessments in the mail this week. Stevenson urged residents with concerns to contact his office.

“Our appraisers are standing by, ready to talk to residents and discuss appeals, or you can fill out a form online,” he said.

The deadline for appeals is March 8. The tax rate will be set in April and bills will be mailed in May.  The current real estate tax rate is 94.5 cents per $100 of assessed value, including the fire levy.

Stafford is the third fastest-growing county in the state, behind Loudoun and New Kent. The growth, coupled with a low inventory of homes poses “significant challenges” on the real estate market, Stevenson said.  

“Our inventory is at a significantly low level,” he said. “So you have high incomes, low housing inventory, and we’re seeing as a result, very high home prices.” 

The current unemployment rate is just shy of 3% for a population of 165,185. Vosburg touted the county’s high percentage of veterans, which account for 19.4% of the total population. “We ranked No. 12 in Virginia in terms of population; we are No. 1 in military population in Virginia.” 

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