Home Bad news for Augusta County taxpayers: The deck is stacked against you
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Bad news for Augusta County taxpayers: The deck is stacked against you

Chris Graham
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Augusta County homeowners are being hit with property reassessments that are increasing, on average, 54 percent, according to information from the Commissioner of Revenue, George Price.

This will almost certainly lead to an increase in your tax bills, absent action by the Augusta County Board of Supervisors to lower the tax rate – which may or may not happen, given the spate of new construction authorized by the county in the past couple of years.

With a new county courthouse, regional animal shelter and new schools coming on the books, the money has to come from somewhere.

In the meantime, members of the Board of Supervisors, feeling the heat, want you to know that they feel your pain.

“We recognize the anxiety that residents may feel as a result of the reassessment process. As stewards of our community, it is our responsibility to ensure that we strike a balance between fiscal responsibility and addressing the needs of our residents,” Board Chair Jeff Slaven was quoted in a statement released by the board on Monday.

The statement was released after a staff briefing in which one of the supervisors literally complained about his assessed value going up $17.01.

I wish I was making that up.

You can bet that he will get an answer and corrective action quicker than you will.

The only thing better than having friends in high places is being in the high place yourself.

For you, the message from the Board of Supervisors is, trust the process.

The statement released by the county on Monday highlighted the avenues that taxpayers have to appeal their reassessment – involving the Augusta County Reassessment Office, the Board of Equalization, and the Augusta County Circuit Court.

Couple of issues here – one, the county has made it clear that it will use your tax dollars to fight legal challenges tooth and nail, so you’re forgiven if you go into the appeal process thinking the deck is stacked against you.

Two, this approach advocated by the county assumes that most people aren’t going to fight, because most people have jobs and families and lives that make it hard to fit in multiple visits to the county government center and then the courthouse.

And let’s just think through for a sec what would happen if thousands of people did decide to fight back.

Do we just assume that our already overloaded court system can handle thousands of appeals?

Of course not.

The deck is stacked against you – at the appeals level, and then when it comes time in a couple of months for the Board of Supervisors to set the tax rate.

The assumption on the part of county leaders is that you’ll have gotten past all of this reassessment “anxiety” by the time the next Board of Supervisors election rolls around in 2025.

Don’t worry there; we’ll remind you.

Chris Graham

Chris Graham

Chris Graham is the founder and editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1994 alum of the University of Virginia, Chris is the author and co-author of seven books, including Poverty of Imagination, a memoir published in 2019, and Team of Destiny: Inside Virginia Basketball’s Run to the 2019 National Championship, and The Worst Wrestling Pay-Per-View Ever, published in 2018. For his commentaries on news, sports and politics, go to his YouTube page, or subscribe to his Street Knowledge podcast. Email Chris at [email protected].