Danville City Council approved its proposed $282.6 million budget Tuesday night that carries tax hikes for city residents and lodgers.
The city’s real estate tax rate will increase from 80 cents per $100 of assessed value to 84 cents and the personal property tax rate will go up from $3.50 per $100 of assessed value to $3.60.
The 10-cent hike in personal property taxes averages out to $12.60 more paid on a car valued at $15,000. For homeowners, under the new 84-cent rate, a house assessed at $100,000 would bring $840 in taxes. Under the previous rate, a home with the same assessment results in $800 in taxes.
Also, hotel and motel occupants will see a 1 percentage-point increase in the lodging tax from 7% to 8% and a new $2-per-day room occupancy tax.
Councilmen voted 8-1 to approve the budget. Madison Whittle voted against it.
The budget includes an average 2% pay-for-performance increase for all city employees, excluding those who work in constitutional offices or the school system.
The city has about 1,045 employees who will be considered for the raises.
Vice Mayor Lee Vogler pointed out accomplishments by the city this year, including passage of a new paid parental leave policy giving new parents paid time off to bond with their children.
“In 2019, paid parental leave shouldn’t be considered a luxury, it’s a necessity,” Vogler said. “It will help recruit and retain employees in our city.”
He also pointed out approval of funding for additional positions in the commonwealth attorney’s office and police department to help make Danville safer.
Councilman Adam Tomer said he was proud to be part of a team that put together the budget and led the effort to get more funding for the Danville Life Saving Crew.
The $2-per-day room fee will provide an extra $280,000 for the Danville Lifesaving Crew. Also, the city plans to provide $260,000 in bond money for an addition to the crew’s northside station at Maple Lane.
However, there are some large gaps the budget doesn’t totally address, he said.
“In some ways, this budget is a Band-Aid with a large gash over it,” Tomer said. “I hope that what we have in place and the work economic development [office] is doing comes to fruition.”
Miller agreed the lifesaving crew needed money.
“We’ve underfunded that for years,” Miller said.
About $2.05 million from the general fund will cover economic development incentives because the city does not have enough revenue to go toward that cost, Budget Director Cynthia Thomasson told the Danville Register & Bee during an interview in her office Tuesday.
“We’d like to get to where we’re funding economic development with current revenues, but we are not there yet,” she said.
The 2019-20 overall $282.6 million budget is about $7 million lower than the 2018-19 budget, which was $289.8 million, Thomasson said.
The majority of the reduction resulted from a $6 million drop in power purchase costs in 2019, she said.
The budget also includes a total of $26.9 million to the Danville Public School Division for operations, debt service and capital improvements.
Crane reports for the Register & Bee. He can be reached at (434) 791-7987.