2006-04-19 / Opinions

Growth is not paying its way


Dear Editor, Why, in Chesterfield County, does our Board of Supervisors insult the intelligenceof its constituency? The only possible reason I can see is that they believe we're idiots in having elected them. In the article (in the April 12 issue) the comments attributed to some of board members brings into question who the true idiots are.

At the root of the crisis faced by the taxpayers of Chesterfield County is the rampant and financially-devastating growth advocated by these board members.

Another article in the April 12 issue of the Chesterfield Observer brings the growth issue into focus. There were 2,635 new homes sold in Chesterfield County last year. Assuming the infl ationary effects have been offset by productivity gains and economies-of-scale benefits in the FY07 budget, one could reasonably argue that the vast majority of the $150,000,000 spending increase was brought about by those 2,635 new homes.

That means each new home created a demandon services [police, fire, schools, roads, et al] costing the taxpayers of Chesterfield County nearly $ 57,000 per new home.

And what did the Supervisors ask from the developers? A proffer of less than $15,600 per new home.Existing homeowners are required, without a vote, to make up the $41,400 shortfall per new home.

With further rampant growth planned along the Route 288 extension, I fear the problem is only going to get worse unless we can elect a taxpayer-friendly board.Other than "voting the bums out," the county should consider doing one of two things:

1. increase proffers to "fair share" or,

2. modify the county's charter to taxresidential real estate at the "last transaction price." I suspect either will put a brake on "growth," which will put a brake on spending, which will then put a brake on tax increases.

Of course, those connected to the "growth industry" (developers, builders, insurance agents, politicians) will have to wait a little bit longer before cashing in.

I have written to "my" board with my concerns but have never, ever gotten a response. Are they too busy taking calls from developers?

In my last message to them, I spoke to their "taking" of illiquid assets and that the only way a "tapped out" taxpayer can access the illusory gains is through an equity loan.

Sure enough, in that same Observer issue, I see a bank ad advocating exactly that. Here's the problem taxpayers see with that [I'm spelling it out for the benefit of the supervisors] ...not having the free cash flow to pay their increased taxes, they borrow against their equity ... now they have to have more cash flow to pay the interest on that loan ... so they borrow more. In the end, what they've done is enter into a "de facto" reverse mortgage, eventually losing their homestead. The banks should be chastised for suggesting it.

Alan Francario

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