A Big Mac, a Whopper, a BLT …

We’re a couple of hours away from our Big Mac Attack, and we have some good news to mark the occasion. The Waynesboro School Board didn’t bow to the pressure being applied by Vice Mayor Frank Lucente and his friends in the local media to cut its 2009-2010 budget $600,000 to accommodate Lucente’s push to drive the city tax rate down three cents.

The School Board voted Thursday night against funding the tax cut “on the backs of students,” Board member Brian Edwards told the News Virginian after the meeting.

So that’s a victory in Round One of the fight to keep our city on life support this year. Because yes, that’s what this is about. A budget based on a 70-cent tax rate isn’t Shangri-La. The $39.4 million general-fund budget cuts general-fund spending $750,000 even with the tax rate remaining unchanged and is balanced on the backs of city water and sewer customers and city employees, with 16 full-time positions being frozen or eliminated and a two-day mandatory furlough for all full-time classified employees in the works as well.

A three-cent reduction in the tax rate would undoubtedly do much more cutting, as I have begun to say lately, through the bone, taking the Heritage Museum to the point where it looks like it would have to close, while also totally eliminating city funding for the Boys and Girls Club and Blue Ridge Legal Services and New Directions and a host of other public-private partner services.

All this, and the benefit to the average city taxpayer would be all of $72 a year, or $6 a month. Note the change in the number that I’m reporting here. I had been putting the total at $60, which is the basic math on a three-cent difference on a home valued at $207,000, the median value for a residential home assessment in Waynesboro. The $72 figure represents what a person owning that median home will pay in addition in taxes given the average 5.3 percent increase in property assessments in 2009.

Granting that, it’s another dollar a month on top of the $5 that folks have been pointing out would buy you a Big Mac extra-value meal. Add an apple pie like they always want you to do in the drive-through, and that makes up the difference.

See you at noon.

 

– Story by Chris Graham


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