RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) -
In just over a week, Chesterfield County supervisors will decide whether citizens will be paying more in property taxes, or whether there will be cuts to services.
The proposed budget includes an increase to the real estate tax. However, some Chesterfield board members want to know what services could be impacted if property taxes aren't raised. Without a hike in property taxes, schools and bus services could be affected.
Last month, the Chesterfield County Administrator proposed raising real estate taxes by 3 cents to help pay for more than $300 million in improvements to schools and emergency communication. If you own a $200,000 home, you currently pay $1900 a year in property taxes; the proposal would add $60 to your total bill.
Homeowner Rich Minter says he's not opposed to a hike, but some board members want to know what services could be reduced if a hike is not approved. It could take nine years instead of seven for school improvements to be completed, if the property taxes aren't raised.
Donald Wilms, with the Chesterfield Education Association, says he is concerned about any plans to delay school improvements.
"The longer that we put things off, the harder it is to bring them up to where they need to be," he says. "The longer we wait, the more expensive it will be."
"We're starting to become a tale of two counties," he continues. "Where we've got some schools in the county that are completely up to date on modern technology, teaching for 21st century skills, and then we've got schools that are struggling to get to that point."
Rich Minter feels changes to the school are clearly needed. "Let's face it. They could sure stand improvement," Minter says. "Not only the buildings and everything but the quality of teaching, too."
Another possible reduction would be cuts to GRTC bus routes, which currently serve more than 200 people. The cuts are not recommended but were merely provided at the request of supervisors. Chesterfield County leaders and supervisors are expected to decide on April 9 whether to raise real estate taxes when they adopt a budget.