Double taxed for stormwater
Published 5:50 pm Tuesday, July 13, 2021
Editor, The Smithfield Times:
The IW stormwater lawsuit article in The Smithfield Times on June 30 (“Trial date set for IW stormwater lawsuit”) is just another example of the county’s disdain for the rule of law.
Who owns the easement in question? Without doubt, the county/state/federal governments own the land, but the citizens are under the illusion that they own property described in a deed. In reality, citizens are just “renters” since if they don’t pay the property taxes it is confiscated. The county also imposes an additional tax called “stormwater fee” on such properties, but it is not used to protect them from stormwater damage.
These programs were mandated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which delegates enforcement to the states and their political subdivisions. The EPA is funded with federal taxes from the general public and in turns it distributes billions to private corporations for pollution control, but when it comes to local citizens, stormwater regulations do not come with federal funds — the reason for the county “stormwater fees.” So we are all double taxed at the federal and state levels for stormwater.
But what happens to the locally collected fees? In my opinion, they are not properly used to correct stormwater problems (usually caused by county or Virginia Department of Transportation). These “fees” are spent mostly on county-run facilities of questionable stormwater abatement value due to poor locations, faulty designs or constructions that have resulted in past additional corrective costs.
The irony of this lawsuit is that federal and state law precedents clearly favor property rights. Still the county refuses to correct stormwater problems for which it collects “stormwater fees” from businesses and general citizens.
Regardless of the outcome, the ultimate losers are the taxpaying citizens due to the county’s incurred defense team legal fees and court costs. The county administration does not see the public interest as a duty and is not accountable for its actions.
Jose E. Hernandez