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Tax increase is on the table for Farmville property owners

Farmville property owners may be paying more taxes for the first time in more than 25 years next year after the town manager indicated adjusting the town’s tax rate for the county’s 19% property assessment increase is not an automatic process this time around.

Town Manager Scott Davis said during last week’s Town Council meeting the town’s property tax rate has remained essentially the same, adjusting with property tax assessments either up or down since at least 1984.

“No one has seen an increase in their real estate tax since 1984,” Davis said.

If the town leaves its property tax rate at the current 12 cent level, the town would realize additional revenue of $92,000. To maintain the revenue at an equal rate after the assessment, the town would have to drop its property tax rate to 10.5 cents per $100 valuation.

“There does become a point in time where the services that we provide and the quality of services that we provide have to be met in order to stay with some type of funding” Davis said. “The only thing I would not recommend you do is make it equal.”

Mayor David Whitus said the first step is to build the coming year’s budget and see what the expense level is before looking at the revenue piece.

“Over the years, we have been very fortunate in not raising real estate taxes because we have had BPOL (business licenses), meals tax, cigarette tax, lodging tax. All of those taxes have grown at a pretty substantial rate, and they have provided a cushion, so we didn’t have to raise real estate taxes,” Whitus said. “Now we are in a new world order, and we’ve also had organic growth in there as well. So now we have to see what happens.”

Whitus said the meals tax levels in the coming year will depend on how quickly the town’s restaurants come back from the pandemic.

Davis said the town is currently transferring $900,000 annually from the sewer fund to pay the town’s debt service payments from the general fund. Whitus said although Farmville has reduced its debt from $22 million to approximately $8.5 million, there is still work to do in that area.

“We can see the light at the end of the tunnel,” Whitus said. “We have come a long ways, but I do know we have a ways left to go.”