Listeners to WINA’s

Charlottesville Right Now with Coy Barefoot

heard two sides of the continuing debate over land use taxation in Albemarle County when the program aired on May 27, 2008. Carl Tinder, President of the Albemarle County Farm Bureau, and Tom Loach, who represents White Hall on the Albemarle County Planning Commission, debated the merits of the program, which lowers the tax burden for land used for agriculture, open space and forestry.


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Tinder said the program is vital to preserving the County’s rural areas. He pointed to a Farm Bureau survey which demonstrated support for land use taxation.

“I’ve got 84 percent of people… that say they would have to sell all or part of their properties if the land-use taxation is changed or taken away,” Tinder said.



Tom Loach

Loach, who told Barefoot he was on the show as a private citizen and not as a representative of the Planning Commission, argued that conservation easements were a much more effective way of conserving land.

Conservation easements allow landowners to essentially sell the development rights for their land to the government, either temporarily or permanently.

Loach characterized land-use taxation as merely a shifting of the tax burden, which Tinder argued was reasonable because rural open spaces do not require the same level of government services as houses in growth areas.

In May, the Board of Supervisors directed staff to begin work on a

revalidation program

for all properties currently receiving the benefit. The Board will hold a second work session on the topic later this summer.

Loach advocated the creation of a committee to study land use, echoing the comments of Glenmore resident

Paul Accad

. Both point out that land use will reduce Albemarle County tax revenues by about $19 million in FY2009.


Carl Tinder

Tinder remained unconvinced that the program needs to be changed, and questioned whether the extra tax dollars would be worth it.

”I’ve heard many arguments about how land-use is costing this county $19 million dollars, I haven’t got one precise answer to what you want to do with that $19 million dollars,” Tinder said. Loach was ready with one example.

“I would put [the extra money] into the

ACE


(Acquisition of Conservation Easements) program

,” Loach said. “I would not diminish the amount of money going for rural preservation not one dollar, I would just move it from where it’s not working to where it’s working.”

Loach concluded by stating that “the question boils down to, do growth-area residents have the obligation to subsidize somebody’s private investment, I think the answer to that is no.” Tinder responded that “it’s not their private investment, it’s their home, it’s their livelihood, it’s their heritage, and without land-use taxation they would lose that.”

Ben Doernberg

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