Letter – Surry Sprouts weighs in

Published 5:42 pm Tuesday, April 30, 2024

Editor, The Smithfield Times:

What’s a “Local Composite Index”? Why should I care?

The Local Composite Index is the method the commonwealth uses to decide how much (percentage) a locality contributes to fund local schools. This can affect citizen tax burdens. Surry County’s Composite Index is ca. 0.8, which is relatively high.

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Money that could (or should) otherwise come from the state can mean less wiggle room for local governments to lower tax rates and/or allocate funds toward land preservation programs. Surry Sprouts (a Surry-based group advocating for land preservation, human connections, community and small business) strongly supports the latter, and (since we’re all citizen taxpayers) is open to the former.

Business tax revenues in the $12 million range (with Dominion as our primary source) help keep our taxes from being even higher. Though controversial, data centers on Hog Island are projected to provide tax revenue that will dwarf the entire current tax base, giving Surry County the option to eventually lower property taxes under 50 cents and/or consider land use taxation (which will greatly benefit farmers and other large landowners). This new revenue stream will also allow serious consideration of other land preservation tools (purchase/transfer of development rights) to meet Surry County’s Comprehensive Plan goals of preserving our rural character and natural resources, so long as the county does not over-obligate us with debt and/or capital improvement programs. 

We hope the county will exercise fiscal wisdom, patience and restraint.


Daniel Shaye