The two-man alliance

Two Waynesboro men calling themselves the Waynesboro Taxpayers Alliance sent e-mails to city residents today urging them to take a stand on the “misappropriation” of taxpayer funds by city government. A closer examination of the alleged transgression in the “misappropriation” area, not surprisingly, shows the issue at hand to be nothing more than partisan politics.

“A majority of our City Council wants to raise taxes, and raise taxes on individuals and businesses while Waynesboro is enduring the highest rate of unemployment in years – 11.1%,” read the e-mail, which was signed by Mike Harris and Garnett Weatherholtz as the Waynesboro Taxpayers Alliance.

Harris’ home address at 830 S. Ellison Lane is listed as the mailing address of the Waynesboro Taxpayer Alliance on the e-mail. According to the Virginia Mass Appraisal Network website, the assessment on his South Ellison Lane property was down 2.5 percent this year from where it was two years ago, at $357,100 in 2009 after being at $366,200 in the 2007 assessment.

Harris’ property-tax bill will drop $63.40 in the new assessment assuming that City Council approves the current 70-cent tax rate later this month.

Three of the five members of the City Council – Vice Mayor Frank Lucente and Council members Bruce Allen and Lorie Smith – will also see lower tax bills at the 70-cent rate. Mayor Tim Williams and City Councilwoman Nancy Dowdy will see increases.

Lucente has been pressing for a three-cent tax-rate reduction to account for the 5.3 percent increase in assessed property values citywide. An analysis of assessed values shows that the bulk of the increases have come not in residential home values but in commercial property values and new construction.

The e-mail from Harris and Weatherholtz as the Waynesboro Taxpayers Alliance seems to recognize that point. “We are a non-partisan group whose mission is to challenge attempts to raise personal and commercial property taxes, as well as monitor real estate assessments,” Harris and Weatherholtz wrote in the e-mail.

Despite the claims of being “non-partisan,” Harris and Weatherholtz clearly have Williams, Smith and Dowdy in their crosshairs. “After enduring another increase in real estate assessments, a tax increase was put forth this evening (sic) by Mayor Tim Williams (Ward A), Councilwoman Nancy Dowdy (Ward C), and Councilwoman Lorie Smith (Ward D),” Harris and Weatherholtz wrote, then included contact information for the three under a heading “What Can I Do to Help?” in which the two encouraged readers to “(p)lease contact these officials and let them know that you DO NOT support any raising of taxes at this time.”

No contact information was provided for Lucente and Allen, who has expressed his support for Lucente’s proposed tax-rate cut.

 

– Story by Chris Graham


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