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Land Use Taxation deters Stafford developers


Date published: 4/19/2013

As Stafford County farmers, we are responding to the letter by George Schwartz that suggested Stafford County could increase funding by cutting the Land Use Taxation program ["Harvest more revenue, reap a better Stafford," April 10]. This is not a tax break, but rather a way to tax the land at a rate commensurate with its use.

For all parcels in the Land Use Taxation program, the house and the first acre of land are taxed at the same residential rate as the rest of the homes in the county. All improvements--such as barns--on the entire parcel are assessed and taxed.

The tax rate on the rest of the land is lower because, with fewer houses on each acre than a subdivision, farming and forestry use fewer county services. They put less demand on roads, emergency services, and schools. For every one dollar of tax revenue taken into the county from land in the Land Use Taxation program, fewer than one dollar of county services are used--a net profit for the county.

Conversely, for every one dollar of tax revenue generated by a residential home, more than one dollar of county services are used--a net loss for the county.

The positioning of Schwartz's proposal next to a photo of a farm field and two letters of support for the new North Stafford Farmers Market is interesting. If the Land Use Taxation program is done away with, many Stafford farms likely would be sold to the highest bidder--the developer. The result will be fewer farms and forests and more housing neighborhoods at a large net revenue loss to the county.

Leave the Land Use Taxation program in place. Let Stafford farms and forests provide locally grown produce for your market, hay for your horses, and lumber for your fences. Keep your local farms, the peaceful views, and a sound financial situation for Stafford County.

Mike and Gail Clark

Stafford

The Clark Family Farm