Not paying more taxes, and still complaining about it

“This is definitely no time,” said Stewart Hall of 891 Kent Road at Monday’s public hearing on the city tax rate, “to tighten the financial noose with further increases in taxes and fees.”
Hall must have been speaking metaphorically, because his taxes and fees will be heading in opposite direction of an increase. According to the Virginia Mass Appraisal Network, the assessment on Hall’s home and property on Kent Road for 2009 is $246,100, down from the $258,400 it had been at in the 2007 assessment.

As it stands now, Hall, who spoke in favor of the three-cent tax-rate cut advocated by Vice Mayor Frank Lucente, stands to pay $86.10 less in property taxes on his home and property at the current tax rate. Drop the rate three cents, and Hall saves $139.93 on his taxes in total.

I don’t see that extra $53.83 as being Hall’s motivation last night. Regular AFP readers might remember Hall’s name coming up last summer in the context of the telling of the rest of the story of Tree Streets resident John Lawrence, who met with a group of business leaders that included Hall, Industrial Machine Works president Dave Wolfe, former Hershey Chocolate of Virginia plant manager Tom Reider and local attorney and businessman Roger Willetts to talk about running for City Council with their backing given their mutual interest in conservative-run local government.

The meeting quickly turned to a discussion of former city manager Doug Walker “and his alleged transgressions, how he was manipulating the council, yada yada yada,” said Lawrence, who shared much in common with his interviewers on philosophy but significantly did not share their perspective on Walker, responding to the directive that the next City Council would have to “do something about him” with the declaration that he was “not going to make any judgments about whether or not Walker was failing to do his duties or not until I had firsthand knowledge.”

Hall, as Lawrence related to me last year, got upset at Lawrence’s insistence that he wouldn’t just up and agree to fire Walker before coming to his own assessment of Walker’s performance on the job and “stamped out of the meeting, and his parting shot to me was, You’re just naive. You don’t understand what’s going on.”

This is the Stewart Hall who last night told Mayor Tim Williams that his support of a 70-cent rate “betrayed those who trusted and believed in you,” clearly signaling, to me, what Williams will face in 2012 if he decides to stand for re-election.

I’m referring to the fate of Walker, who was invoked by Cherry Avenue resident Leroy Wells in his attempt at a stinging rebuke of the City Council. “As a result of your actions two years ago, you have set yourselves and the city up for very tough decisions,” Wells said at the Monday public hearing. “Had the ruling majority at the time used due diligence and restrained the city manager and yourselves and not approved the dream-come-true budget, but insisted that the city manager returned to his office and bring back a realistic budget, we might not be facing these tough decisions today.”

Looks like Wells wants a seat in the room with the power-brokers next time they’re on the recruiting trail.

For the record, his property assessment was down, too, according to the Virginia Mass Appraisal Network, from $185,300 in 2007 to $184,000 in 2009.

And guess who else won’t be paying higher taxes after the reassessment? Yep, that would be Mr. Lucente, whose 2125 Pickett Road home and property is assessed, according to the Virginia Mass Appraisal Network, for ’09 at $236,800, down from the $247,300 it was assessed at in ’07.

The tax-rate cut that Lucente is pushing puts an extra $69 in his pocket on top of the $73 he would already save if the tax rate was left alone.

Which works out to another Big Mac a month for the ol’ Frankfurter.

 

– Story by Chris Graham


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