Letter -Spread burden of new schools

Published 6:23 pm Tuesday, December 12, 2023

Editor, The Smithfield Times:

Everyone who has ever heard me speak at the Isle of Wight Board of Supervisors and School Board meetings knows I am about as anti-tax increase a citizen as it gets. Many will find it strange that I personally support a 1% sales tax that can only be used for school construction.

New schools must be built and one on the drawing board in our county so far has a price tag of $72 million. This is something that will happen and must be paid for. As it stands now, it will be paid for by an increase in real estate taxes, so only people who own a home, not all those who have children in school, must bear the cost. I do not think this is fair and there is a solution that will keep real estate taxes down and spread the cost of school construction to every citizen in the county and those from outside who utilize services here.

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As of now there are eight counties that have the right to have a 1% sales tax to pay for their school construction. Only the Virginia legislature can allow additions to that list. This is not by directly passing a law saying a county has the power to enact the 1% sales tax for school construction; it is by allowing the county’s citizens to decide in a voter referendum if they want new schools to be paid for by an increase in the real estate taxes only homeowners will pay, or by a 1% sales tax everyone will pay. 

The county and I personally have supported a bill in several past legislative sessions that would allow the citizens who pay these taxes to decide, only to have the bills killed in committee. I say give us, the citizens of this county who pay the taxes, the right to decide how we pay for school construction. 

I suggest you contact Sen.-elect Emily Brewer, Del. Otto Wachsman and Del.-elect Nadarious Clark immediately and tell them if they want your support in the future to introduce and/or support bills in the upcoming General Assembly session that will give us that right. We pay the taxes, we are not stupid, and we should be allowed to decide for ourselves.


Volpe Boykin