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2009-11-25 / Opinions

Property tax rate should not be increased

letters to the editor

Dear Editor,

I was reading my copy of the Nov. 9 edition of your paper with great question as to how Chesterfield County will survive when all of the small businesses in the county move to “better” environmentally friendly locations? After all, with the obsession by the Chesterfield County “Big Corporate Business Oracles” that keep chanting “more property taxes” for businesses in the county, why would a small business want to stay? I own such a business, and I have had talks with other small and medium business owners who feel the very same way.

Then, I read the letter from Mr. Michael W. Giancaspro, who is the “chair” of the Chesterfield Community Services Board, proclaiming that a property tax rate hike is necessary to keep services. My question to Mr. Giancaspro is: Have you and your board examined the cause for the “exodus” of small and medium businesses and private taxpayers from the state of New Jersey in the past 12 months? That is a state, not just a city or county. What we have here, my friend, is called “recession” and little to no marketplace. The people of New Jersey can’t pay their bills, much less taxes. They are leaving behind homes and businesses that they have worked long and hard for because they have been taxed beyond their ability to survive. Is this what we want for Chesterfield County, Va.?

I have been a Chesterfield County resident for 62 years versus Mr. Giancaspro’s 25 years. I have yet to see where “community services” has done anything to promote more jobs or pay property taxes, and spend “our” tax money on programs that make this a productive place to live.

Let me explain that when I refer to more jobs, I mean businesses that make sales, tax collections and give real working people jobs, not more governmental computer geeks. When I refer to paying property taxes, I mean businesses that pay their own way, fair and square. Patrick Henry gave the most (and now) needed speech in all of American history about taxes and the right of the citizenry to have say to the use of such funding. Is Chesterfield County government deaf to the people and to small and medium business?

In this “recession,” we give away too much money in this county to fancy frills like this “community center for the arts” and the “beautification plan for Midlothian Turnpike median” (in this same Nov. 9 edition) along with individuals who use every means and way to suck money from “community services” and other “social programs” that were not available when I was coming up.

Yea, there are individuals out there that really do need a helping hand but not a continual hand-out. Where are those volunteer 501c3 groups who claim to be taking care of all of this in their charter? Welfare means “never work.” This county is way over 250 years old, and suddenly in the last 45 years, we need to give tax money away. I can get you at least 350,000 people that want a part of that!

Charity belongs to churches, volunteer organizations and the like – not dogging the hard-working men and women of Chesterfield with over-taxing programs to do all the charity work. “Big brother” was not included in the Constitution of the United States of America. And socialism, as in “social programs,” is just another liberal way to sneak in a Communist way of life. If you look back in the not-so-distance past, Nikita Khrushchev, in a United Nations meeting, after slamming his shoe on the desk several times to get attention stated, “The Soviet Union will take over the United States without firing a shot.” The way things are going today, old Nikita just might get his wish.

You want a balanced budget? Start by cutting some, if not most, of this big brother charity work. Let the 501c3 charities do what the federal government made them a tax-free entity to perform. Don’t you think that there are enough of them to do the job? I get junk mail from quite a few of them each year!

Finally, has the great community called Chesterfield County become so educated beyond its intelligence to not understand that a great county is great by the quality of its people, not by having the biggest schools, shopping centers, malls, huge corporations and the like? You want a great place to live? Then back off, let the people have some breathing room and cut all these big spending projects while the recession is still on.

You’ll be surprised at just how much money there is to be found by cutting spending. It is called balancing the budget, and stop trying to do everything on credit. Remember that the state and local governments are supposed to be a service to the people, so stop trying to make Chesterfield County the center of the universe.

Al High

Midlothian

Dear Editor,

I recently attended a budget meeting that Chesterfield offered for the purpose of getting input from the public due to the current economy and [the] projected shortfalls in government income and what services should be cut. We were shown the pie [chart] on the screen as to where the money comes from and projections as to cuts expected in the coming years’ budgets. After the presentation we were asked to form several smaller groups with county [facilitators] to discuss the issues. I don’t know if many citizens have ever participated in these, but it’s like leading cattle to slaughter. Don’t forget the county person is trained to do this. I have always felt afterwards that I just thanked them for the pat on the shoulder as I went up the ramp to the slaughterhouse.

I am getting ahead of myself. Let me give you a little background. I am 65 years old [and have] lived in Chesterfield for 38 years. My home cost $31,500 [and is] now appraised by the county at $262,500. I have raised two children and four grandchildren, and for many years participated in county, civic, area zoning and many other activities. I have a resolution on my wall presented by the board [of supervisors] for being the first officer and establishing the nonprofit Friends of Chesterfield’s Riverfront.

During the meeting we were told that home values are now 4.4 percent below 1995 values. I researched this and found that in 1995 my appraisal was $114,400 not figuring the 4.4 percent and wonder when the county plans to lower real estate values which now requires four months of my Social Security checks just to pay these taxes and insurance on my home. I have already made the realization that with my good health, I may be able to live another 20 years, if lucky, but not in Chesterfield.

I keep hearing media reports about user fees, proffers and even reduced planning fees on certain requests that will not cost the taxpayer as we have a surplus fund available. The really bad part is I will need to spend at least $50,000 just to get my home in a position to compete with the amenities that new homes now have and will still be much less than the new homes on the market, but are those things really needed? [I] guess if they read this [letter], my appraisal will go up to $312,500 or maybe even more.

The county needs the economy to step on its toes and get back to reasonable figures, and remember that a lot of you may be in the same boat if the spend-spend continues. If anyone cares, I could make a list, but [there’s] not enough room in this paper, and Chesterfield surely does not want to see it either.

My first suggested cut would be a 50 percent or more cut in the budget department. Anyone can make figures look good or bad. Just look at the corporations that went under this year. Where did they learn it from? The government. If anyone reading this has ever worked for government, they know of the waste and should be watching county spending even in good times. If we doubled the rate on property taxes, Chesterfield would spend it and want more. I am forced to tighten my belt. Why not the county? Oh, sorry. This may cause reduced services.

B. F. Matthews

Chester

Budget and Management Director Allan Carmody said his presentation reports that home values in the Richmond area as of the second quarter of this year are down 4.4 percent compared to a year ago. Editor

Dear Editor,

Even though I am a relatively new resident of Chesterfield County, I wanted to share a comment regarding the discussions on property tax rates and proposed increases. Mr. [Mike] Giancaspro [at a community meeting] mentioned the previous tax rate reductions as if they were mistakes. However, I would argue that this is one of the issues that makes Chesterfield County competitive and attractive to new homeowners and businesses. When my family moved to the Richmond area last year, our real estate agent guided us in the direction of Chesterfield County in part because of the relative lower property tax rates.

I would suggest, if the tax rate needs to be increased, that there be an index created that maintains the net amount of actual tax payment that is made by the property owners. A portion of the current revenue shortfall is related to the decline in property values and assessments, which is a vital part of the net payment calculation. While it may be currently true that with the downward trend in assessments, the net effect of a rate increase is neutral, maintaining the rate at the increased level in the future would have a net compounding effect on the actual amount of tax paid. Therefore, any increase in the tax rate should be indexed so that the rate is automatically reduced again when the assessments begin to rise. This would allow for stabilization of the revenue generated by existing properties, and growth in property tax revenue would then be realized by growth in actual properties.

A process such as this would help in maintaining Chesterfield’s competitive tax rate advantage over surrounding counties, thereby attracting new homeowners and businesses, which results in increased revenue from property taxes.

Steven Eddy

Midlothian

Career Academy is needed Dear Editor,

Thank you to Chesterfield County Public Schools (CCPS) for having the vision to now completely serve all the students of the county with an extended career academy [Oct. 28 issue]. Not all students can qualify for the gifted, IB, etc. high school programs – but all need to graduate with a valid career opportunity.

Although we have a technical center, many students are turned away from programs due to lack of space. And the need for expanded programs has previously been on the back burner for some time. We do not need to allocate more money for programs or schools for the mainlined kids – but those on the fringe that probably will never go to college. These kids need to leave high school not only with a high school degree but also direction either for college or toward a competent career. In tough economic times, do not expect that any child that wants to can afford college, or that all want to attend college.

I am sure CCPS has many ideas to help this rather large group of kids, and now that we have a large building, we do need to serve them. And the Clover Hill High [building] is perfect. It is in an upscale area of the county, and we need to reflect our best intentions, direction and hope for this undervalued group. They are our kids. They either graduate from college with a degree that qualifies them for a certain job, or they have a career with education from the vocational-technical department. Either way, they become county citizens with families, homes, jobs and area involvement. We really owe this group our best.

We do not need a center for adults, seniors, art programs, public services; we finally need to serve this neglected portion of the entire school system.

Susan Poe

Chesterfield

Letters to the editor can be e-mailed to letters@chesterfieldobserver.com, mailed to P.O. Box 1616, Midlothian, VA 23113, or faxed to 744-3269. Letters should include the writer’s phone number and home address, but neither will be printed. All letters may be edited for clarity or space. For complete guidelines, visit www.chesterfieldobserver.com and click on “letters policy.”

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