Taxes schmaxes

What is this raising county taxes thing I read about? I’ve been a little out of the loop lately but nevertheless, I read in the Richmond Times Dispatch last week that Chesterfield’s Chairman of the Board of Supervisors, Dan Gecker, said we should be raising taxes next year. That’s not what I heard a year ago.

Granted, Mr. Gecker did not have any competition in the election, but three out of the five Supervisors who now sit on the Board said during the debates said, “No,” when asked if they would raise taxes once elected. That means that Gecker would only gain one vote on the issue in March when the board sets the real estate tax. Over the last several years, Chesterfield’s real estate taxes have been reduced. Last year real estate taxes were dropped by $.02.

A penny in property tax (now $.95 per $100 of the assessed value of your home) raises about $3 million for the county. If you own a $200,000 home, your tax would increase by $20 a year. If you live in an apartment, it wouldn’t cost you a thin dime unless your landlord raised your rent to cover his increased taxes.

I understand real estate assessments will be reduced once again in Chesterfield. I think I would rather have my assessment go up or stay the same and pay a little more in taxes than have my property devalued. Many people are now underwater due to property devaluation through lowered assessments over the last several years. Assessments, since the county bases them on 100 percent of the value of your home, sway appraisals and would, along with other factors, convince a bank that your house in not worth as much you might think it is.

But when speaking of taxes it may not be real estate taxes that is being considered by Gecker, it could be a plethora of other taxes: Sales tax, the county now gets one percent of every dollar you spend; new vehicles, food, appliances and practically anything you buy in the county; BPOL taxes, (Business/Professional/Occupational Licenses,) or any type of personal property tax. Now, some taxes may be controlled by state guidelines, but fees are not and BPOL taxes are not and local car taxes are not. In fact Hanover County recently did away with cash proffers for builders in favor of an additional $10 fee on vehicle registration.  

Admitted, Chesterfield needs tax money, if not for general operating expenses for the Capital Improvement Program (CIP), which covers infrastructure such as small road improvements, but I believe any tax increase should first be provided to schools. If we don’t fund our schools then we are lost.

Now comes the Hanover County plan. If Chesterfield follows suit, which the development community is now pushing hard, they must balance the budget somehow. In addition to needing tax funding for the operations portion of the budget they will now have to cover the reduction in cash proffers that fund county infrastructure or construction needs. We have to fund improvements for roads, schools, parks, libraries and fire stations.

No one wants to pay taxes but they want services, better roads, schools, parks and so on. Somebody has to pay for it. The county has to balance the books. Someone told me the other day that there’s too much county government. Maybe so, but after the 2009 layoff of almost 250 employees do we want to layoff enough to cover our budget shortfall?

How about parks and rec? Why not just let the ball fields grow up in weeds; close River City Sportsplex (formerly SportQuest,) leaving the supposed tourism dollars magnet behind and stop this silly preservation of historic sites.

We could close libraries another day or two, who needs them, nobody reads books anymore, people get their books on Kindle. Hey, we could turn libraries into coffee shops and offer Wi-Fi.

Let’s not forget schools, we could cut their budget and increase class size. I’ve seen those classrooms and there’s room for a lot more desks in those classrooms and forget specialty centers, too. If students want to learn a little more about what they’re good at they can go to the coffee shop, Wi-Fi enabled library, but only four days a week.

Problem solved, taxes and assessments left alone, “No more taxes,” reduced spending. Who needs all this fancy quality of life? If you want quality of life, move to Henrico, or better yet Hanover, but keep your car registered here in Chesterfield.

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