Spotsylvania supervisors alarmed by calls from seniors about taxes

by | May 16, 2024 | ALLFFP, Government, Spotsylvania

The majority of the Spotsylvania County Board of Supervisors say they strive to maintain a tax rate as low as possible. 

While that sentiment irritates school board representatives and those seeking higher pay for teachers and others in education, Lee Hill District Supervisor Lori Hayes said she has a simple response. 

“Our job up here is to take our whole citizenry into account,” Hayes said, “not just one segment.” 

Hayes and Berkeley District Supervisor Kevin Marshall said during Tuesday’s board of supervisors meeting that they are particularly concerned about one faction of that citizenry — the senior population. 

Hayes and Marshall said they’ve received calls from a host of seniors in the county worried about the tax rate of 73 cents per $100 of assessed value that was recently passed when the county adopted a fiscal year 2025 budget. 

The seniors are leery that, with high reassessments, they will not be able to afford their homes and other essentials. 

Marshall advised the board to immediately begin examining ways to assist more seniors with tax assistance for the FY26 budget. 

“We need to go ahead and get our ducks in a row, get the information the best we can, and we need to make some decisions to help these folks out, and we need do it now before we get to that budget cycle,” Marshall said. “Don’t bring this up in the middle of the county administrator’s work sessions … He’s probably already started on next year’s budget.” 

Marshall noted that the most recent tax assistance program update occurred in 2019. The county decided then to provide a maximum of $1,500 (up from $1,200) of assistance for any seniors earning less than $50,000 per year and with a total net worth of less than $200,000. 

Marshall said, however, that higher home value reassessments have increased the net worth of seniors, and now not as many qualify for assistance. Hayes noted that the most recent census in 2020 showed Spotsylvania has approximately 29,000 seniors, a total that has likely increased since. Hayes said 6% of those seniors live below the poverty line. 

Hayes added that the Healthy Generations Area Agency on Aging, which serves the Fredericksburg region, provides some tax relief but not enough to make a significant impact. 

“I am very, very concerned about what this tax rate is going to be doing to our senior population,” Hayes said.  

Senior smokers will be faced with even more taxes in Spotsylvania. The supervisors voted 4-0 to add 10 cents to the cigarette tax after a public hearing in which no one spoke. Chris Yakabouski of the Battlefield District, Gerald Childress of the Chancellor District and Chair Jacob Lane of the Livingston District were absent from the meeting. 

The vote increased the cigarette tax from 30 to 40 cents per pack, the maximum allowed by the Northern Virginia Cigarette Tax Board, of which Spotsylvania and Stafford counties are members. The new rate takes effect July 1 and is expected to add $500,000 of revenue to the county’s general fund. 

Supervisors also advised county staff to urge state representatives to petition the General Assembly to allow local taxing authority on vaping next year. 

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