BRISTOL, Va. - Bristol, Virginia city residents could soon be paying more in taxes and fees.
Next year's budget was presented Tuesday night at a city council meeting. It includes a property tax increase and an increase in garbage collection fees.
To make up for lower property assessments, city leaders are looking at a two-cent property tax increase. "Other council members wanted to raise it a little more but we're going to compromise to where it's about the same, not really a tax increase," says Vice Mayor Guy Odum.
The proposal says a two cent increase on every dollar of assessed value could bring in $220,000 annually.
Odum says some may look at this not as a tax increase, but as a way to bring property taxes back to what they were before the lower assessments.
But City Mayor Jim Steele says he doesn't like the plan to increase taxes. "I'm a firm believer that you don't run a city government by raising taxes every year. That's not the way to do it," he said.
A one dollar per month increase for garbage collection is also in the proposed budget. It would bring the fee to $13 a month, totaling $87,000 for the city's budget.
Odum says there isn't anywhere else to cut, and that's why he agrees with the proposed increases. "Everyone is cutting back and cutting to the bare bones of what we can do," he said.
But Steele says he is the only one of five city council members not on board with the plan. "I felt like two cents with a dollar on trash and the economy being so bad, I think the city manager and new assistant city managers need to look at it again and do away with these increases," he said.
The public will have a chance to voice their opinions about the budget at a public hearing May 28.
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