At a relatively brief end-of-winter, pre-budget-season meeting Monday afternoon (March 2), the Rappahannock County Board of Supervisors agreed to the county administrator’s request that the new motor vehicle tax — which no longer requires you buy a $20 county-issued windshield sticker for your qualifying vehicles— be applied consistently to all types of vehicles.
Any continuation of the current policy of exempting (or applying a different rate) to such vehicles as antique cars, certain types of trucks, motorcycles and motor homes, could cost the county some $10,000 in consulting fees for the developers who’d have to customize the county’s Keystone accounting system, administrator John McCarthy told the supervisors.
Board members agreed, though no vote was required or taken. The board adopted the revised motor-vehicle ordinance at its February meeting; the ordinance allows the board to set the flat-rate tax annually, when it sets the personal-property and real estate tax rates after the spring’s budget season. The board agreed then that the flat rate would be a simpler alternative to what the supervisors did for the current tax year — when it did away with the flat rate entirely, and attempted to compensate for the lost revenue by adding 25 cents to the county’s personal property tax rate.
To compensate for this year’s increases, McCarthy expects the supervisors will adjust the motor vehicle flat rate down this year — as well as remove that 25-cent increase from this year’s personal property tax rate.
After a brief discussion, the board voted to appoint a board of assessors to assist contracted appraisers with 2015’s every-six-years real estate reassessment, agreeing to ask three Rappahannock residents to serve: Amy Timbers of Piedmont district, Ron Makela of Jackson district and Yogi Bear of Hampton. Besides providing local intel for the appraisers during the reassessment process, the board also provides an outlet for property owners to challenge appraisals early in the process (after the assessments are finalized, a board of equalization is appointed by the court to serve a similar function).
McCarthy pushed the board to make a decision this month, although he had suggested that property assessments were not headed up “anywhere near” as much this reassessment as the one in 2009-2010.
“I think property values might be headed slightly higher than they [the supervisors] think they are,” said Timbers, a real estate agent, after the meeting.
In other action, the board heard presentations from school superintendent Donna Matthews, who said the school division had missed only eight days due to snow this season (last year there were 17 snow days), and credited Virginia Department of Transportation and the school system’s own staff and volunteer weather watchers for enabling the division several times to successfully turn what were cancellations in surrounding counties into two-hour delays in Rappahannock.
A presentation by John Tole, president of the Rappahannock Historical Society, made the case for the society’s request that the county consider funding a match sometime this year for a $7,500 challenge grant offered to RHS by an anonymous donor. The funds would go toward the RHS’ continuing archives digitization project, but toward a planned book, “Histories and Mysteries,” a collection of essays and stories centering on Rappahannock’s bygone days, and on continuing preservation and expansion of the Rappahannock Historical Society museum’s collection in its Gay Street headquarters.
Though the board made no decision, several supporters rose after Tole’s presentation to recommend the grant be made to support the historical society’s good work.