LETTER- Rich tax breaks cost the poor

Three recent articles in the Hook ["Family feud: Skaters rejoice, supes kvetch," May 15; "Rural-centric: Supes continue land use support," May 22; "Taxing: County cars cost more," June 3] alluded to how Albemarle County coddles wealthy land owners and sticks it to ordinary citizens. Worse, County leaders feign befuddlement.

To recap, 60 percent of the land in Albemarle County is placed in land use, which provides significantly reduced taxes to land owners (clearly, 60 percent of Albemarle's land is not used for farming or actual timber production). This costs the county nearly $19 million in potential tax revenue, far more than the $13.6 million in revenue-sharing with Charlottesville. Because of growth and service costs, the County has increased its taxation of cars and other vehicles (with little fanfare).

Surprisingly, Board Chair Ken Boyd doesn't want to revisit land use policies but would like to change the revenue-sharing agreement with Charlottesville, which Board member Lindsay Dorrier likened to "taxation without representation." (Dorrier was the County Commonwealth's Attorney when the agreement was approved, so go figure.)

Now that the new vehicle assessments are in county mailboxes, Boyd claims to be "shocked" by the increased taxes. Are these people really serious?

As I've pointed out in other venues, Albemarle is a wealthy locality. But its leaders, like the Bush administration, provide tax breaks generally to those who don't need them, thereby increasing taxes on the middle and lower classes. And because the county groups itself primarily with poorer localities for salary comparison purposes, those who work for the county, especially teachers, see their compensation arbitrarily and disingenuously diminished.

I wonder how Lee Catlin would explain that.

Mark Crockett
Kents Store