Stafford sets advertised tax rate at 91 cents

by | Mar 6, 2024 | ALLFFP, Government, News, Stafford

The Stafford County Board of Supervisors member reports got off to a rocky start Tuesday night. During the 7 p.m. session, a recess was called during Monica Gary’s (Aquia) report. The supervisor was abruptly cut off a few minutes after she started speaking. 

“Let me be careful, because I’m supposed to have a poker face and not say certain things,” Gary began. “I’m not very good at that, but I will be professional, and I will be direct. I will say some things that need to be said right now to our community…

“We have some severe deep problems on this board, and it absolutely is because of some of the personalities and actions of people on this board that we are having significant issues in this organization.” 

Chairwoman Meg Bohmke (Falmouth) commented that Gary was out of line and moved that the board take a recess. 

“The fact that two of my colleagues were so fearful of what I might say that they censored the free speech of a fellow board member was very telling,” Gary wrote in a statement to the Free Press. “This is the kind of thing I am asking the public to pay close attention to.” 

Upon returning from that break, the board heard from Anthony Toigo, intergovernmental affairs manager. Toigo introduced the county’s new federal funding consulting firm, Merchant McIntyre Associates. The firm will help to identify and apply for federal grants to fund county projects. 

Following another round of public comments and approval of capital transportation plans, the board came to the main event of the evening: approving a resolution to set the advertised real estate tax rate for 2025. 

Ultimately the board approved a tax rate of $0.8969 with a fire levy of $0.131 in a 5-2 vote Tuesday night. Supervisors Crystal Vanuch (Rock Hill) and Bohmke voted against the proposal. 

Vanuch had made an alternate proposal of a $0.8769 rate but the motion was defeated, 4-3. The cigarette tax was increased from 30 to 40 cents and the transient occupancy tax went from 7% to 9%.

“This isn’t our money. This is a billion-dollar budget,” Vanuch said. “There’s plenty of time to move things around and prioritize. In my opinion, the 89-cent total tax rate requires us to do the hard work… and then in November we’re potentially going to be asking voters to go to the ballot box and support a one percent increase in sales tax… and they’re going to say no.” 

“When I look at supporting the advertised rate, I’m at the 91 (cent rate),” said Supervisor Deuntay Diggs (George Washington). “I’d like to support the $15 million for schools and I want to balance it. We have a lot of needs, but the most important is taking care of our staff and our constituents. At 89 (cents), I don’t think we can take care of county staff like we should… Past decisions brought us to this point.”

The public hearing on the proposed tax rates is March 19.

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