BRISTOL, VA (WJHL) – A bombshell announcement at a Tri-Cities city council, a more than $1 million budget defecit council members said took them by total surprise.
At Tuesday’s budget work session, the city’s Commissioner of Revenue, Terry Frye, said that real estate tax revenue coming off assessed value is down about $1.7 million. A major concern as council puts together next year’s budget.
Bristol, Vrginia City Council members told News Channel 11 the news caught them by surprise and it could force cuts in spending or maybe a tax increase.
Councilman Kevin Mumpower called for Commissioner Frye’s resignation and Councilman Doug Fleenor agreed, both saying they should have been warned about the deficit sooner.
Council members were well on their way toward setting the budget, but that’s now at a standstill.
Mumpower said he and others on the council were under the impression real estate tax revenue would increase.
“We should have had the revenue projections back in February and so then we would have shaken all of this out so now here we are in the corner, at the last hour, learning that we have a shortfall in revenues,” Mumpower said.
Councilman Doug Fleenor called it a borderline crisis and that the city is already hurting because of the decision to fund The Falls retail development project.
“It’s sad because we’ve had tax payer funded employees, the city manager, the new CFO have worked their rear ends off, tax money in a budget,” Fleenor said.
Commissioner Terry Frye said cuts in the assessed value were based on the appeals of taxpayers over months’ time and he hopes it can be resolved where it doesn’t cost jobs.
“The Board of Equalization waited until all of the hearings were over gave their decisions all at once to us, that vast number of decisions that made the difference in terms of determining how much was cut wasn’t evident to me until the very end of the process,” Frye said.
Despite Mumpower’s call for resignation Frye said he doesn’t plan to resign and he had already decided not to seek another term.
The city’s next budget meeting is scheduled for Thursday, May 4. The city has to have a final budget approved before July 1.
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