The Montgomery County Board of Supervisors District F representative Mary Biggs proposed that the county consider a two-cent increase in property taxes that would be set aside for future school capital projects.
If passed, the increase would take the current rate of $0.89 (per $100) to $0.91, which would equate to a $20 increase per $100,000 of assessed property value.
Presently, the county sets aside approximately $1.5 million of the property taxes levied to go towards school capital projects, and Biggs’ proposal would increase that amount to just over $3 million, which she believes is vital to replacing the system’s aging infrastructure, particularly in the Christiansburg strand.
Biggs said that the increased savings would go a long way to helping the county fund a new Belview Elementary School (built in 1954) that the school system has aimed to break ground on in 2022.
Based on 2015 projections, a 450-pupil school would cost between $29-32 million, and a 720-pupil school would cost $38 million, $12 million of which could be raised if Biggs’ plan is approved.
Supervisors Annette Perkins (District A) and April Demotts said that they were in favor of the plan.
“It looks like we don’t have enough money to do the things we want to with the schools,” Perkins said, regarding the county’s current situation.
Tuck has said in the past that he is generally not in favor of raising taxes, and he continued that sentiment during Monday’s meeting.
“As a fiscal conservative, I want to see new schools, but I also want to see us live within our budget,” Tuck said. “I just don’t know that raising taxes is the right decision at this point in time.”
School Board member Connie Froggatt (District F) spoke in favor of the tax increase during the public address portion of the meeting.
She said that there are quite a few schools that need to be renovated or rebuilt, including a new Christiansburg High School and Shawsville Middle School (built in the 1930’s) that total nearly $200 million, and the current savings plan was not an adequate solution.
“A good budget includes saving for the future,” she said. “We need to start thinking a lot further in the future.”
The supervisors will vote on the tax rate and budget to advertise to the public at the March 20 meeting (6 p.m. at the Montgomery County Government Center, 755 Roanoke St., Christiansburg).