It was a packed house Thursday as Buena Vista city leaders talked about raising property taxes.
No one really wants to pay more taxes, but that was much of Thursday night's discussion. Nothing has been decided upon yet, but the Buena Vista City Council is considering a 7-cent increase to the real estate tax.
"A seven cent increase on a 157 average home could be 40 dollars a month. With a family of two with two children, 40 dollars a month could mean a whole lot," Marvita Flynt told Your Hometown News Leader.
Another resident, Kimberly McKinney, told WDBJ7, "I myself, I can't even get my December taxes paid and here they're wanting to raise them again."
That was the sentiment from many others as well at the city council budget meeting. The city says it has tightened its belt for the last few fiscal years, to prevent imposing higher taxes and fees. But people here are worried.
"They can't afford the taxes. There's people leaving this town. We need to bring the community together," McKinney said.
Here's the city's proposal:
Increase real estate taxes by 7 cents; bringing the rate to $1.14 per $100 of assessed value; which would be Buena Vista's all time highest tax rate. Council members say that increase would help pay for capital projects including paving, a new emergency radio system, Buena Vista Rescue Squad benefits and general school funding.
"I hope that they can find resources from elsewhere instead of trying to take it out of the homes and the taxes." "They need to bring businesses into this town," McKinney said.
Others are worried a higher tax rate will scare off businesses from coming to the area.
"The $1.14 is awful high and to try to attract new businesses or any new industry, they don't look at the assessments, they look at the tax rates," said Flynt.
Dozens raised their concerns to the council, hoping it will find another way to make ends meet.
The council is also considering an increase in water and sewage rates and a higher recycling fee.
City leaders said these plans are not set in stone and budget talks are still in the preliminary stages.