Some Thoughts About A New Rappahannock United Way Study
I recently got the opportunity to speak with Interim Lee Hill School Board member Kassie Palmer, who brought to my attention the ALICE Report, a new study done by United Ways of Virginia that highlights financial challenges effecting Virginians.
After having a chance to review the study, it highlights that perhaps more Spotsylvania residents are struggling financially than one might have initially imagined. The study created a formula that determines the income-level needed to afford basic life necessities. For Spotsylvania, the study estimates that 47% are living below this income threshold. This is notably higher than the state average of 39% and second highest among the four neighboring localities.
Why does this matter? It matters because many of the choices a Supervisor makes have direct impacts on these households.
For example, if a tax rate increase is determined to be necessary as we expand as a community, then it is imperative that the Board of Supervisors consider adjusting the real estate tax exemption parameters to provide relief to those most vulnerable to any new increase.
Balanced decision-making is key on this issue.
We cannot arbitrarily dismiss all tax raises as unnecessary or burdensome due to the possible effects on some citizens. Conversely, if services are permitted to decline below a satisfactory level due to aversion to higher taxes then it's those that have financial difficulties that are going to bare the brunt of the reduced level of services. This is why it is extremely important to strike a balance where a satisfactory level of service is provided to the community while working to keep the tax rate as low as possible.