BLACKSBURG – A public hearing was held at Blacksburg Town Council’s meeting Tuesday, April 11 on the town’s budget and tax rates for the coming fiscal year 2023-2024.
The council also heard an additional request for a conditional use permit concerning a downtown commercial property in Kent Square.
Real estate taxes for the 2023-2024 tax year will see a proposed rate of $0.26 per $100 assessed value as presented to the council and community by Marc Verniel, Town Manager. The proposed rate is the same as the current rate. Blacksburg town residents pay property taxes to both the town and the county of Montgomery. Property in the county is assessed every four years with notices most recently mailed to residents in November 2022, with an effective date of January 1, 2023. County taxes are established through the Montgomery County Board of Supervisors and Blacksburg taxes are set by the Blacksburg Town Council.
Verniel expressed that “one penny on the town real estate tax rate generates just under $500,000 for the town.”
Reassessment of property has seen an increase, particularly in the area of rental properties and multi-family homes. Historically, 2023 real estate reassessment rates are seeing an increase of an average of 31.6%, which is comparable to the average rates last seen in 2007 of 33.7%, occurring just prior to the real estate recession of that period.
The overall budget for fiscal year 2024 was presented at the town council meeting at $97,225,00. The total operating budget increased by 9.8% and the general funds seeing an increase of 9.4%. The general funds portion of the budget accounts for approximately half of the overall budget.
Some increases in taxes and fees by the town of Blacksburg will be seen in cigarette taxes, water, sewer, and solid waste fees. Cigarette taxes will increase from $0.30 to $0.40, which will come up to the current rates in Montgomery County and the town of Christiansburg. Overall, utility fees will increase by $5.40 per month for town residents.
In overall economic health, Verniel said “being a college town helped the town be more stable” compared to the pandemic period when college students were attending courses virtually.
A work session on the budget occurred April 18, with a vote on the tax rate scheduled for April 25, 2023. A copy of the proposal made be accessed under Budget and Reports at the www.blacksburg.gov website.
The April 11 meeting also included a request to combine previously approved conditional use permits (CUPs) at Kent Square and Kent Square North, 202 and 250 South Main Street, currently zoned as downtown commercial. Blacksburg Zoning Administrator Paul Patterson presented information on the item of discussion that would allow for additional medical and office spaces in the location that totals approximately one acre.
Patterson shared with the council that an opportunity for public comments had occurred on March 2, 2023, in the form of a neighborhood meeting, at which time no citizen comments were expressed in person or by correspondence. The Planning Commission voted on the topic of the permit as well at a meeting on April 4, with a 7 to 0 result in recommendation of approval along with the contingency of specific conditions being met.
The meeting concluded with the announcement of Take Back the Night’s event date change to April 26, 2023 on Henderson Lawn in Blacksburg.