If you missed the first of my 2018 Fall informal coffee hours, you still have two chances left! This Saturday I will be at Jireh Cafe in Centreville from 9 to 11 a.m. Stop by to ask questions, share ideas, or learn about some of the issues likely to be debated during the 2019 General Assembly.
Below is the schedule of remaining events:
I am also happy to arrange individual appointments on specific issues or concerns.
Last month, I mentioned redistricting reform and the process of amending Virginia's Constitution. The language must be adopted in identical form twice, with an election in between, and then presented to the voters for approval.
This upcoming Election Day, voters will be asked to approve two proposed amendments. Both of them deal with Article X "Taxation and Finance." In general, Article X provides that all property is to be taxed, and that like property should be taxed at the same rate. Exceptions must be specified in the Constitution.
overview of the amendments
can be found at the Virginia Department of Elections website.
However, below are the specific questions you will be asked and a brief explanation:
Question #1 -- Should a county, city, or town be authorized to provide a partial tax exemption for each property that is subject to recurrent flooding, if flooding resiliency improvements have been made to the property?
The purpose of this amendment is to encourage private investment that will increase resiliency against the impacts of sea-level rise. According to studies by the
Virginia Institute for Marine Science
, the impacts of sea-level rise will be particularly hard felt in the Hampton Roads region -- affecting not only homes and businesses, but also ports and military installations. The proposed amendment is permissive. The decision to enact the exemption, and the specific amount, will be left to individual localities.
Question #2 -- Shall the real property tax exemption for a primary residence that is currently provided to the surviving spouses of veterans who had a one hundred percent service-connected, permanent, and total disability be amended to allow the surviving spouse to move to a different primary residence and still claim the exemption.
Virginia's Constitution was amended to provide this tax exemption in 2010. However, it stipulates that the surviving spouse must continue to occupy the same residence or lose the exemption. This can be highly problematic for a surviving spouse who may need to downsize, move for a job, or find a home that better suits the person's needs. The amendment makes sure that the exemption applies to wherever the surviving spouse may live.
I supported bringing both of these amendments to the voters and have not seen any arguments against Question #2.
However, there has been some useful debate regarding Question #1.
Not surprisingly, the
(a Hampton Roads newspaper) came out in support of a partial tax exemption to encourage investment in flooding resiliency. They cited the fact that it is optional for local governments and that it helps to meet an immediate need. The
(a Fredericksburg newspaper) came out against the idea. They argue that an exemption, even if partial, will "force other taxpayers to subsidize owners of coastal or other waterfront property..." and that it would "provide a kind of flood insurance that is paid for by people who do not own... waterfront property."
My own perspective is that taxpayers will already pick up a big part of the tab to protect our coastal areas from recurrent flooding. Using the tax exemption approach will at least require some level of meaningful private investment. But, I appreciate the points being made. At the end of the day, if the amendment is approved, local elected officials will ultimately get to decide what is best for their communities.
Whatever you decide, make sure to get out there and vote on November 6th!