2017-06-14 / Letters

Simple math explains county’s tax rate

I would like to respond to a letter from David Edmonds [“Why is Chesterfield’s tax rate so high?” May 3]. I share Edmonds’ concern for high taxes and fees in Chesterfield. When I move in the near future, they are of concern to me in selecting where I go. He asks why it is so much more in Chesterfield, and that answer is very simple: The citizens of Chesterfield have chosen this path.

There used to be a sign at a speed shop I went to in my youth, “Speed costs money, how fast do you want to go?” The citizens of Chesterfield expect a fire engine, ambulance, or police officer to show up quickly, 24/7. Chesterfield citizens expect the finest schools in the area. Powhatan or Charles City County residents are not going to get that level of service.

If we compare ourselves to a county with similar levels of service like Henrico, it is again very simple. In many cases when someone wants to develop a property for commercial use in Chesterfield, the citizens rally against it. Not always wrongly, mind you, but nevertheless we have much less commercial development in Chesterfield as compared to Henrico. Commercial pays for way more services than it uses, so that is a large part of the difference. All you have to do is look at Route 288 in the morning and see all the people who are commuting to Henrico, who probably just dropped their kids off at Chesterfield schools. In addition, a few years back there was a referendum on a meals tax in Henrico and Chesterfield, the tax revenue of which would be earmarked for schools. Henrico passed it and Chesterfield did not.

I am not saying that there are not inefficiencies that can be found; I am sure there are. Everyone wants a free lunch, and it is just not possible. There is no “free” public education, roads, public safety, or anything else. Chesterfield is far from perfect, but if you were to look at many of those places the writer speaks of, including Albemarle County, many of the current and past top officials got a start and learned their trade in Chesterfield. I am going to continue to hold the board’s feet to the fire myself, but I am going to do it with the understanding that we must have a way to pay for what we have chosen Chesterfield to be, and that means a higher property tax rate for now.

Stuart Smith

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