Three new taxes and a water rate increase proposed for Lynchburg

LYNCHBURG (WSLS 10) – The City of Lynchburg is proposing spending about $20 million more next fiscal year.

To do it, the City is proposing three new tax increases and a water rate increase.

City Manager Bonnie Svercek says it was a hole in the City’s downtown parking deck, caused by winter weather, that put her focus on the Hill City’s infrastructure problem.

“I went and visited that hole and the concrete was about this thick. It is but by the grace of God and the universe that we did not have a tragedy occur at that deck. I’m not willing to take that risk,” said Svercek.

She says that deck was just the tip of the iceberg.

“Our infrastructure is continuing to deteriorate, and we have concerns roofs on our buildings, bridges, sidewalks, our athletic fields,” said Svercek.

Svercek says, the City’s lodging tax was also in need of an update.

“I believe we have not changed that in over 15 years so, and frankly that is capturing money from people who are traveling to and through our community,” said Svercek.

Lodging is proposed to go up 2%, from 5.5% to 7.5%.

The water rate is proposed to go up around 5%.

The meals tax is proposed to go up 0.5%.

The real estate tax is proposed to go up $0.05 per $100 of assessed value, from $111 to $116.

That’s bad news for Ann Ripley.

“For us here, it was triple-whammy,” said Ripley.

Ripley runs the Federal Crest Inn downtown.

She says the real estate tax, lodging tax, and increased water rate would directly affect her business.

“Why are we picking on the hospitality industry when we bring in more business for everyone in this city?” said Ripley.

Ripley looked up how the lodging tax would compare to Charlottesville, a competing city.

“The tax there on hospitality/lodging is 7%, and we’re going to be then 7.5%, which makes a difference,” said Ripley.

The City will be hosting a public hearing on the issue on April 4th at 7 p.m. in City Hall.

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