The Vienna Town Council has approved a $12.7 million budget for 1990-91 based on a real estate property tax of 28 cents per $100 of assesed value, the same tax rate as 1989-90. The $12.7 million represents a 3 percent increase over the 1989-90 budget.
Although the 1990-91 tax rate is unchanged, Vienna's 1990 property assessments increased an average of 9.77 percent. Thus, taxes on a house valued at $200,000 were $560 in 1990 and would be $616 in 1991, an increase of $56.
To maintain the 28-cent property tax rate, the town plans a one-time $140,000 transfer from the meals and lodgings tax to the General Fund. Money from the meals and lodgings tax originally was slated for Vienna's capital improvements projects.
Council members Rodger Seeman and Robert Robinson voted against the budget because it "reneged on our agreement with the business community," Seeman said.
"When we raised the meal tax 3 cents, it was with the understanding that it would go to the capital improvements program," Seeman said. "How can we ever again have credibility if we go back on our word?"
"We're trying to maintain a tax base which is much too tight," Robinson said. "It's best to pay a little as you go."
Seeman and Robinson argue that services in Vienna will suffer without a tax increase. Many sidewalks and streets that need improvement will not be repaired.
Postponing a tax increase also will mean a larger increase in the future, they said.
Mayor Charles Robinson said that town services would not be reduced.
"I frankly don't want to be the only jurisdiction in Northern Virginia to raise the tax rate," he said.
Council member George Lovelace suggested that the council conduct a quarterly review of town spending.
"We need to be prepared to be very diligent throughout this coming year," Lovelace said. "Realistically, things are not going to get cheaper, they are going to get more expensive."
The council unanimously approved increases in water and sewer tax rates, and vehicle license and cigarette taxes beginning July 1.
Water rates per 1,000 gallons will increase from $1.57 to $1.81 for in-town customers. For out-of-town customers, water rates will rise from $1.95 to $2.19.
Sewer rates will increase from $1.86 to $2.27 per 1,000 gallons for all customers.
This is the first increase in two years of both the water and sewer rates.
"Our rates for water and sewer are right about in the middle for surveys of jurisdictions throughout Northern Virginia," said Town Manager John Schoeberlein. "We're working towards equalization of the in- and out-of-town rates."
Under the increases, a house in town with a combined water and sewer usage of 25,000 gallons a quarter would have an increase of $5.42 a month, for a bill of approximately $65.
The increased taxes will help fund increased operating costs, including the cleaning and relining of pipelines, Schoeberlein said.
Vehicle license taxes will be raised from $15 and $20 to $20 and $25.
Motorcycle license stickers will increase from $8 to $10.50.
The increased licensing tax is projected to raise $60,000 for the town, Schoeberlein said.
Cigarette taxes will be raised from 10 cents to 15 cents a pack, increasing the town's revenue by approximately $30,000, Schoeberlein said.
But some town residents said that they are being discriminated against because they smoke.
"I do not appreciate paying more taxes than anyone else in town," said Vienna resident and smoker Bob Wilson.