Hmmm. Tastes Like Chicken.


Time to eat crow. The tax assessment numbers are in for Henrico County, and they are disappointing indeed — up only 2.8% from last year. (I blogged about Chesterfield’s assessment results yesterday.) I had suggested that soaring home sales prices would give a much bigger boost to the tax base, obviating the need for a 4% meals tax. The number was slightly higher than the 2% percent that the county administration had budgeted, but not enough to close the county’s perceived long-term budget gap.

So, kudos to the county administration for getting it right.

This still doesn’t change the bigger-picture narrative I advanced about Henrico County — the county cannot continue doing business as usual. I do not buy the false alternative that local governments have no choice but to raise taxes or cut services. The county manager took a small step in the right direction recently when he proposed disposing of excess property, a move that would simultaneously lower operating expenses, increase the tax base and strengthen the county’s balance sheet. But that’s just a start.

Henrico County needs to get serious about exploiting the potential of the “smart city” revolution criss-crossing the globe. The county needs to move more aggressively to urbanize selected parts of the county to bolster its tax base with higher-yielding, lower-costing development. And it needs to take greater advantage of the burgeoning revolution in online learning. In the final analysis, the meals tax is an $18 million blip on a billion-dollar budget. It’s a temporary patch. It’s also over and done. Let’s start thinking about longer-term reforms.


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6 responses to “Hmmm. Tastes Like Chicken.”

  1. but given your philosophy about taxes, anyhow, why would you not call for the increased revenues to be rebated to the taxpayers and not give the county additional money from taxes anyhow?

    There’s a name for this but I cannot recall what it is.

    but at any rate – if one is a hard-core fiscal conservative – the county does not get to keep increased revenues – either.

  2. When you think I’m being dogmatic, you call me out for being a “Tea Party” whacko. When I’m pragmatic, you stick it to me for not being consistent with my principles! You love needling me, don’t you?

  3. no. no. no. although maybe a little.. 😉

    no.. I cannot think of the word/phrase when revenues increase but the BOS reduces the tax rate so that the revenues stay the same and the tax rate decreases.

    but my thought is along the lines that .. why is the BOS entitled to to the increased revenues to start with – IF your own philosophy is that they already spend more than they should.

    You seem to have ceded that to them.. at the same time you were arguing that they did not need more money anyhow..because they have not explored all the opportunities that they could have..

    so.. why would you just let them have the increased revenues? it would seem to undermine your own low-tax, lean-mean govt philosophy…

    I’m not that far from you in reality. I think schools spend too much already but for the wrong things – and they under-fund things they should not – like K-3 core academics… they make choices…about what to do with the money they do get and they say they need more to do better at teaching disadvantaged and I think if you give them more.. they’ll just fritter it away on things parents want and still not spend it on K-3, Pre-K needs which I consider critical – especially compared to things like AP – which is totally duplicative of local Community College (and 4year) offerings.

    but I do argue in contrarian ways..if I think someone’s position is not self-consistent and it varies according to the situation.. for instance, if someone is concerned about deficits.. they are usually concerned about entitlements but then they wash their hands of the disadvantaged kids who do not get a workforce education and then grow up to need entitlements.

    it’s got to fit together for me.

  4. “Why would you just let them have the increased revenues?”

    I truly wish I could overrule them but I can’t. You see, they’re the county supervisors and I’m not. I don’t get a vote. They also won the referendum. The voters have spoken.

    There’s no point in fighting yesterday’s battle. They won. Now it’s time to try to reframe the issues going forward.

  5. re: “why would you let them have”..

    “why would you cede to them their “right” to the increased revenues”?

    I would think it would be a much more consistent – firm argument to affirm that no more money is needed.. even if tax revenues rise.. that if revenues rise, they should be rebated to taxpayers not spent.

    that would be a consistent advocacy…

    it seems inconsistent to argue against a meal tax to generated increased revenues then have no objection to other increases in revenues…

    if the idea is that no new revenues are needed.. then why is the opposition focused only on higher taxes and not higher revenues from increased assessments?

    either way – the impact on the taxpayer is the same… right? and isn’t that the entire point?

  6. “equalized rate” was the term I was searching for. In my county, for instance, assessments are up for residential in single digits – and there is “talk” at this point of “equalizing” by reducing the tax rate 2 cents so the county would not take in any more revenue but instead keep level funding.

    I might add that until this particular BOS was voted in, such “talk” in the past almost never resulted in a full equalization… and sometimes.. the entire increase was taken by the county and used to pay for teacher and county employee raises, etc.

    The BOS we have now is much more fiscally conservative but they are struggling with how to not lose personnel to other counties who pay more.

    A good number of our county employees, EMF, law enforcement, and teachers will go north to Prince William and NoVa to gain 5000 – 10,000 more in salary and they essentially get their start and get training and experience then leave for higher paying jobs – not without some commuting sacrifices… but 10K more in salary buys a lot of needs.

    so are any of the anti-tax folks in Henrico advocating now, for equalized tax rates?

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