Lancaster County is wringing too much money out of the citizens who pay real property tax while ignoring its ability to tap other sources. It’s unfair to property owners, and it’s time to make a change, county supervisors, Jack Larson and Dr. Robert Westbrook argued at the board meeting last week.
“As it stands now, I believe the manner in which we raise revenue to cover the cost of goods and services places a disproportionate burden on certain taxpayers. Case in point is the real property tax,” said Larson. “The county raises a greater percentage of its local revenue from real property tax than any other localities, city or county, in the Commonwealth. The only exception is Highland County, which now very likely, has a lower percentage than Lancaster County given our roughly 10 percent increase in real property tax effective this year,” he noted.
As of 2017, almost 78 percent of total local taxes in Lancaster came from real estate tax while only 8 percent came from personal property tax. By contrast, in neighboring counties, personal property tax ranges from 13.6 to 17.1 percent, Westbrook told his fellow board members.
He pointed to Lancaster’s tendency to cut other taxes then demand more from property owners.
After the General Assembly passed the Personal Property Relief Act in 1997, also known as the car tax, Lancaster reduced it’s personal property tax from $3.80 to $2.04, and that rate hasn’t changed since 2007. But Middlesex stayed at $3.50 while Northumberland remained at $3.60. Richmond County increased its rate from $3.50 to $3.75 and Westmoreland went from $2.50 to $3.25.
“We went down, and our neighbors stayed the same or went up,” Westbrook said.
He also called attention the boat tax, or more specifically the lack thereof, noting that it was eliminated after a 2015 meeting. “Consequently, Lancaster County has been without a considerable and significant amount of revenue every year and has chosen to increase the real property tax to make up the shortfall,” said Westbrook.
For the full article, pick up the latest Northern Neck News 11/6/19