The Purcellville Town Council on Tuesday unanimously voted to reduce the real estate tax rate to 21 cents for the Fiscal Year 2023 budget even as Town Manager David A. Mekarski continued to urge a greater investment in the staff and efforts to promote long-term fiscal stability.
In introducing his proposed budget March 16, Mekarski proposed keeping the town’s 22-cent real estate tax rate despite calls from several councilmembers to cut at least a penny from the rate in response to high growth in property values over the past year.
Mekarski said holding the current rate, when combined with the average 11.72% increase in assessments, would cost the average homeowner $50 next year while adding $405,000 to the General Fund.
The town levies a separate 3-cent tax for its Parks and Recreation Fund, creating an effective real estate tax rate of 24 cents per $100 of assessed value. Water and sewer service rates are proposed to increase by 3% and 5%, respectively.
While the council will be debating areas of the proposed budget over the next several weeks, it had to vote Tuesday to set the tax rates to meet the deadline needed for the county government to prepare tax bills. The town this year is joining the cooperative agreement with the county under which property owners receive combined bills for county and town taxes.
To reduce the tax rate to 21 cents, the council will have to reduce the proposed $12.8 million General Fund budget by $174,000.
Mekarski argued that the money generated from holding the tax rate steady will provide more opportunities to invest in the town’s quality of life and more fairly compensate its 85 employees—all for a cost to residents that he equated to buying one latte a month.
In going with the 21-cent rate, council members agreed that sharply rising property values and inflation are hitting many residents hard and contributing to the stress experienced during the pandemic.