Equal taxing authority bills introduced; VACo’s overarching legislative priority

January 23, 2020

VACo is working with legislators in both chambers and both parties on legislation to provide parity between city and county taxing authority, a long-standing priority for the Association.  As funding partners with the state in the provision of core government services such as K-12, public health, and public safety, counties need tools to raise the revenues required to meet their responsibilities, but are limited by an outdated tax structure, leaving counties heavily reliant on real estate taxes.  Additional funding options, which are currently available to cities, will assist counties in responding to the challenge of meeting increasingly complex needs, such as securing elections against cybersecurity threats, modernizing the E-911 system, and maintaining critical infrastructure.

HB 785 (Watts and Kilgore), SB 484 (Favola), and SB 588 (Hanger) would all provide for general equalization of taxing authority.  SB 588 was initially assigned to the Senate Local Government Committee, where it was reported and re-referred to the Senate Finance and Appropriations Committee, to which SB 484 has also been referred.  Department of Housing and Community Development Director Erik Johnston spoke in favor of SB 588 at its hearing in Senate Local Government; VACo is grateful to have the support of the Northam Administration for the bill.

In addition to these general equalization bills, VACo supports several pieces of legislation addressing specific facets of county taxing authority.  HB 977 (Krizek), SB 682 (Mason), and SB 799 (Lewis) would eliminate the referendum requirement for the imposition of a meals tax and the 4 percent rate cap in counties.  SB 921 (Locke) would extend the authority to impose local cigarette taxes to all counties.  HB 977 has been referred to the House Finance Committee, and the Senate bills have been referred to the Senate Finance and Appropriations Committee.

VACo is appreciative of the Counties that have adopted resolutions in support of equal taxing authority and shared them with their legislators.  Please continue to talk with your delegation about the importance of revenue diversification for your county and encourage their support for these bills.

Support Equal Taxing Authority for Counties Info

VACo Contact:  Katie Boyle

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