Letter to the Editor: Let’s be grateful for those wanting to help


In John Massoud’s letter to the editor of April 17, he takes issue with a local businesswoman who spoke at the Shenandoah County Board of Supervisors in support of the higher real estate tax rates in order to fund our schools.  I attended that meeting, and heard her explain that the tax would hit her pretty hard, as she has a lot of her savings invested in real estate, but that she was willing to make the sacrifice in order to invest in our future.

First, let’s be grateful that we have people like that in our community – people who understand that a bright future for our county requires sacrifices now, and who are more focused on the long-term health of our community than their own short-term bottom line.

The idea behind real estate taxes is twofold.  First, the assumption is that one’s real estate holdings are roughly commensurate with one’s means, such that wealthier people pay more in taxes. Second, they assume that one’s real estate holdings reflect one’s use of county services.

This year, our schools face about $1 million in uncontrollable costs increases – mainly additional mandates from the state and increases in health care premiums.  The proposed rate increase would give our schools enough to cover those additional costs, and restore the money cut last year from the health benefits of the teachers Mr. Massoud says he supports.  Far from the limitless demand described in Mr. Massoud’s letter, that is what the speaker was advocating.

Mr. Massoud suggests that the tax increase will hurt the poor.  The average property assessment in Shenandoah County is $123,000.  The proposed tax increase would cost the owner of that property about $50 a year, or about one $4 Happy Meal per month.   I think the average Shenandoah County family can afford that.  However, if Mr. Massoud or others want to propose expanding the property tax exemption for certain poor people, and raising the rate on the rest of us to cover the lost revenue, I would support that. If this is truly about poor people, that would go a long way toward solving the problem.

Dan Walsh, president, Parents Alliance for Strong Schools