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Canceling roundabout would bring tax hike

The controversial Cartersville roundabout project, which has regained attention in recent months after its approval back in May of 2017, has been the target of criticism by several Cumberland County citizens who have been calling for the project’s termination.

But a decision to terminate the project could cost the county a tax hike, according to County Administrator Don Unmussig.

Don Unmussig

Cumberland, which regularly bears a much higher tax rate than surrounding counties, had its real estate property tax rate set at 77 cents per $100 of real assessed value last year after a 10.87% assessment increase. The rate to offset the increase would have been 71 cents.

While last year’s effective rate increase left a number of citizens dissatisfied, the county recently advertised a proposed 75-cent tax levy for FY-22, a decrease of two cents.

While it is encouraging news for taxpayers, the decrease could become yet another increase should the current board of supervisors put a stop to the Cartersville roundabout.

At the Tuesday, April 6 Cumberland County Board of Supervisors public hearing for the FY-22 budget and tax rates, Unmussig addressed the board on the roundabout issue and its potential financial impact on the county.

Unmussig told supervisors on Tuesday night that if he was asked by a member of the board to contact the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) to cease the SMART SCALE Cartersville roundabout project, VDOT would invoice the county for all costs associated with the project to date.

“Right now, that figure is right about $250,000,” Unmussig told the board. “That $250,000 is not in our budget. If that happens, instead of 75 cents for $100 of assessed value, which I presented to the public tonight, it’s not going to be that number. It’s going to be 79 cents per $100.

“So, I have no choice. If the board is compelled to do that, I’m just letting you know that instead of a tax decrease, this is going to end up being a tax increase to cover that cost.”

VDOT has received several recent requests to hold a public hearing related to the roundabout. As of Tuesday, a specific date for the hearing had not yet been scheduled.

The Cumberland Board of Supervisors will meet Tuesday, April 13, at 7 p.m. during its regularly scheduled board meeting to vote on the real estate tax rate, capital improvement plan and the FY22 budget.