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Four cents on the dollar

Fear and Loathing in Waynesboro column by Chris Graham

The rumors that have Jerry Gwaltney as the next city manager in Waynesboro interest me in one key respect.

The city council that he is leaving behind on June 30 thinks that a key reason for him doing so has to do with a squabble over budgeting – which was of course what led to the effective dismissal of Doug Walker from his post in Waynesboro.

“We’re in the middle of a budget crisis, and it looks like it’s not going his way. He may feel like council’s not supporting him. But that’s just a guess,” said Danville City Councilman David Luther last Wednesday, the day that Gwaltney shocked Danville leaders with the announcement that he will resign on June 30 after eight years on the job.

That resignation came a day after Walker’s forced resignation in Waynesboro.

Two days after Gwaltney announced his resignation, Danville City Council voted in favor of a proposal to roll back the city real-estate tax rate from 77 cents per $100 assessed value to 73 cents per $100 assessed value, essentially keeping taxes neutral in the face of revenue reassessments that have pushed property values in Danville up 5.9 percent this year.

Gwaltney told The Danville Register and Bee that lowering the rate would leave the city’s $250 million-plus budget with about a $600,000 shortfall.

He also told the paper that the budget issue was a factor in his decision to step down from his Danville job.

Walker met with criticism from conservatives getting ready to take control of Waynesboro City Council in July with his recommendation that the city increase its tax rate four cents, from 70 cents per $100 assessed value to 74 cents.

City council later found $600,000 in spending cuts to balance the budget at 70 cents.

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