Albemarle BoS chair David Slutzky is toying with a significant overhaul to county taxation policy, Brandon Shulleeta writes in today’s Daily Progress, although he says it’s nothing more than idea, one that he’s not even sure that he’d vote for. The county provides a significant real estate tax cut to landowners in rural areas who agree to keep their land rural. The majority of the county’s land is enrolled in the program, $18M worth of tax breaks in all. A lot of folks are using the program as it’s designed. But some folks aren’t. Land speculators that aren’t planning on developing their land just yet can enroll their land, get tax breaks for as long as they want, and when they decide to develop it, they just pay the last few years of rollback taxes. Slutzky proposes requiring that, in order to get the tax break, rural landowners commit to permanently keeping their land rural by placing it in a conservation easement, so that neither they nor any future owners would be permitted to develop it. He figures it could bring in an extra $10M-$20M year in real estate taxes, revenue that would come in handy right about now.
Rodney Thomas, the Republican opposing Democrat Slutzky in this year’s election, doesn’t support Slutzky’s idea, and told the Progress:
I think it’s just taking the rights away from the individuals that own the land. I don’t think they [should] have to put their land into conservation easement just to prove that they aren’t going to develop some property. It’s their property. It belongs to them.
Slutzky doesn’t intend to do anything with this idea before the election, but says that he wants to learn more about it to see if it’s worth pursuing.