A shocking comparison! Do we pay too much?

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We analyze taxes paid in Pasquotank County compared to Chesapeake City

For several years, many people in Pasquotank County have wondered aloud why the property taxes are so high here, compared to various cities of Hampton Roads area in Virginia where the cost of living is higher?

Therefore, we have sought to obtain information that would attempt to clarify this question.


Differences between the two localities:

  • Property taxes: The City of Chesapeake tax rate is $1.05 per $100 of valuation while Pasquotank and Elizabeth City combined is $1.415.
  • Real Property tax rate: The Pasquotank rate is 1.45% while the Chesapeake rate is 1.05%
  • County population: Chesapeake has 235,000 citizens while our area has approximately 40,000 citizens and we see declines in population in this area while the City of Chesapeake is growing.
  • Median home prices: The median price of a home in Pasquotank County is just above $160,000 whereas Chesapeake has a median value slightly in excess of $250,000. The total value of all sales is taken into account with this number.
  • Tax rates on real property: Pasquotank charges these taxes at $2361 while Chesapeake charges $2676.
  • Tax on vehicles: Pasquotank costs $363 while Chesapeake charges $1020. This presumes a value of one vehicle at a cost of $25,000.
  • Total taxes paid on real/personal property: Pasquotank $2723 and Chesapeake $3696. This reflects an average of taxes paid.
  • Total Budget:The City of Chesapeake budget is just over $1 bill while the combined City/County budget is almost $109.3 mill.

What are the differences?:

The City of Chesapeake pays for all fire and police services out of local tax dollars, while all of Pasquotank County is covered by volunteer fire services. In addition, Chesapeake pays for all of its refuse service and all garbage is transported to a regional facility with no local convenient sites, but Chesapeake also picks up all garbage at the household curb whereas our County citizens have to take it to a convenience center.

Chesapeake pays for all city water to all residents whereas city water is only provided in Elizabeth City and County water is provided by municipal service in some areas with wells in other areas.

The City of Chesapeake has one municipal service to operate the entire County government structure. In Pasquotank County, we have a County government and a City government, which provide overlapping and duplicated services to their citizens. These duplicated costs are reflected in the property tax rates charged by both municipalities.

So what does the City Of Chesapeake provide in amenities that we do not have in the County/City?  Without a doubt, we have a superior quality of life in terms of congestion. But we have virtually no shopping unless we go to Chesapeake.

And what about jobs?  We have no industry here and the job growth here is very limited. All of the good paying jobs (except those in government service) require our citizens to go elsewhere. Our government pays decently but the benefit of employment is more about working close to home and the job benefits, more than the salary levels.

Prices of Real Property (Homes) have higher values in Chesapeake, which is a reflection of the increased value of jobs and labor. Higher salaries provide the opportunity for citizens to afford more cost of housing.

At one time, when the housing boom was in full swing, we had people moving here from Hampton Roads. But that has slowed significantly since 2007. We were then a bedroom community for Hampton Roads, but now not so much.

So as the cost of local government grows, how are we going to meet the increased cost of additional salaries and benefits for municipal employees without the ability to grow the economic base of the region? Regrettably, that is a very difficult question to answer.

For years now, attempts by County Commissioners such as Frankie Meads to restrain growth in the County budget have fallen on deaf ears. It appears that our County and City leaders do not see the prospect that the “gravy train” may be slowing down. The issue of low salaries and low economic opportunity are going to continue to push our younger workforce out of the area to places where they can earn a decent level of income.

Economic Development efforts have been ineffective at best. A suggestion that these efforts have been misplaced has not been received well by our leaders either. How our community will grow to meet the challenges ahead is anyone’s guess.

In the coming weeks, we will do an analysis of Currituck County and compare it to Pasquotank County in much the same manner as we have done here. Currituck County is close to the Virginia line and many people who work in Virginia live in Moyock. But Currituck has other problems and we will address those in our next issue on the subject.