Wednesday, April 17, 2024

James City County Approves Budget That Reduces County’s Real Estate Tax Rate

The James City County Board of Supervisors approved the budget for the upcoming fiscal year. (WYDaily/Molly Feser)

JAMES CITY COUNTY — The James City County (JCC) Board of Supervisors unanimously approved the Fiscal Year 2023-24 budget that reduces the county’s real estate tax rate during the Tuesday, May 10 meeting.

Major changes to the budget for the upcoming fiscal year include a reduction in the County’s real estate tax rate from 84 cents to 83 cents, which resulted in a $1.1 million reduction in revenue.

Sharon Day, director of finance and management services, told the board that the county reduced the same amount from its Capital Improvement Plan to balance the budget.

The budget includes $32 million for public safety, $87 million for Williamsburg-James City County Schools (WJCC) and $14 million for debt services to WJCC.

Board members expressed their gratitude to county staff for their work and for being responsive to citizens’ requests for tax relief but warned that the county may not be able to reduce tax rates in the future.

Supervisor Michael Hipple cautioned they “may need that penny back” in the next few years.

“Remember, there are some projects coming up in the future that we need in order to keep the county going, and that’s going to require some more debt,” Hipple said.

Supervisor Ruth Larson noted the staffing issues that local first responders are facing, and also that when they are asked to make adjustments to the budget, it does not come without a cost.

“A cost reduction doesn’t come without cost,” she said. “We may not be able to do this forever. We need to make sure we are paying our people a decent wage.”

Chairman John McGlennon said that the county was able to provide almost immediate tax relief and recognize staff with significant pay raises thanks to the cautious approach taken to the budget.

“We didn’t have the falling-off-the-cliff that we expected from COVID-19,” he said.

However, McGlennon warned that the County is still a growing community.

“It’s sobering to think about the fact that in the first year since the census, James City County’s growth actually exceeded that of Loudoun County, and that would mean that if it continued on a cumulative basis, we would grow more than double digits over the course of the next decade,” he said. “That’s a thought that’s a real challenge because of the desire to provide quality services in an efficient matter and maintain the quality of life that is so critical to our community.”

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