Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Augusta's Inflated Real Estate Assessments are Hurting School Budget.

In the NewsLeader today schools here in Augusta could see additional budget cuts. Augusta County Schools Superintendent, Gary McQuain, says the ailing Augusta County School budget could see an additional $699,000 cut. How does this happen? Well, the Commonwealth of Virginia doles out money to the 134 school districts based on need.

The need is calculated using a number of different values including; Daily average attendance, REAL ESTATE VALUES, student enrollment, and retail sales tax. Two of these values have seen a dramatic change recently. Retail sales have dropped, but they have dropped across most of the commonwealth causing only small differences when compared to other areas.

The real deal here is that Real Estate Values have soared, at least on paper. If you remember back, last year, there was a huge public outcry about the High Real Estate Assessments here in Augusta. Over 10,500 people signed petitions saying the assessments were wrong. More than 1,000 people showed up at the Augusta County Government Center at a Board of Supervisors meeting to tell the Board that the assessments were mistaken as to the true value of their home and land. The Board of Supervisors paid no attention to the public outcry and allowed the assessments to remain. The Board of Supervisors did lower the tax rate on the assessments, thinking that would solve the problem, but their shortsightedness about this issue and the ripple effect that the assessments would have may now mean costly cuts for Augusta County Schools in terms of layoffs and possible furloughs.

All the sudden, at least on paper, Augusta county looks like a rich school district in the eyes of Richmond, no longer in need of as much state money to help with the local school budget. Therefore, seeing that the commonwealth's budget has a $4 Billion gap, the money, that the Augusta County Schools had anticipated it would get from Richmond, may not materialize.

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