The Albemarle County Farm Bureau recently distributed a letter strongly opposing Albemarle County’s Rain Tax. Read the entire letter below:
Friends and Neighbors:
The County of Albemarle is poised to impose the largest fee ever enacted on real estate property owners. Staff has been instructed to establish a storm water management utility. The proposed utility will be funded by impervious surface fees. Sometimes referred to as rain tax, impervious surfaces are roofs, parking areas, driveways, and roadways (gravel and hard packed dirt are considered impervious).
How will the county determine your impervious surfaces? A new utility department with numerous new staff will be formed. Computer software will compare aerial photography with county data to determine the amount of impervious square footage you own. A fee will apply to every 500 square feet and will appear on your May 2019 real estate tax bill. Due to inaccuracies in the county’s GIS data, some property owners will be charged erroneously. Fairness in taxation should prohibit Albemarle County from using this method of assessment.
Things you should know about the Storm Water Utility Fee/Rain Tax:
- Calling it a fee as opposed to a tax allows the county to impose this on churches, schools, volunteer fire departments, food pantries, and similar tax-exempt organizations.
- When the City of Charlottesville enacted this fee, it was estimated that the economic impact on the average citizen would be minimal; however, the result for property owners with extensive buildings and accompanying parking areas was much higher. For example, First Baptist Church on Park Street pays approximately $8,000 annually.
- Homes and properties that have multiple structures such as sheds, carports/garages, etc. will be greatly impacted by this fee. Research shows that the rain tax will represent a tax increase of 500% or more on some structures.
- Through public and private water quality improvement practices already implemented, Albemarle County is currently 95% compliant with the Environmental Protection Agency’s water quality targets for the year 2028. The proposed budget for the stormwater utility is $52 million over the next 10 years.
The Albemarle County Farm Bureau (ACFB) Board of Directors are opposed to the stormwater utility fee. We support maintaining and improving storm water management in the developed areas of the county and believe it is most efficiently and best funded through capital improvement projects from the general fund. Albemarle County has a $14 million surplus in 2017, and taxes are proposed to rise by approximately 3-4% in the next two years, not including the proposed rain tax. Surely revenue could be allocated from the general fund for this important storm water management work.
Please contact your supervisor or county staff for questions or concerns. Click here for more information. Check our ACFB Facebook page for updates on upcoming county meetings on this matter.
Your Friends at Albemarle County Farm Bureau