I’d like to start an educational discussion focused on improving Charlottesville and Central Virginia. Improving Charlottesville is our entire mission with I Love CVille. So, here goes:
Am I the only person who thinks it is a contradiction when Charlottesville City Council says it is prioritizing affordable housing and making The Charlottesville Downtown Mall more approachable yet it is willing to raise real estate taxes, meals taxes and lodging taxes???
Raising real estate, meals and lodging taxes will do THE OPPOSITE of making housing more affordable and The Downtown Mall more approachable.
(1). Increasing real estate taxes will significantly impact our poorest citizens and our commercial real estate tenants (i.e. our small business owners). Landlords pass these increased taxes to the tenants rather than absorbing the taxes themselves. For an example, please consider triple net leases, which literally require tenants to pay all the real estate taxes on the properties they rent from their landlords.
(2). Increasing real estate, meals and lodging taxes will drive our poorest citizens into Central Virginia’s outer counties, which will further gentrify the City of Charlottesville. Increased real estate, meals and lodging taxes create a larger gap between our wealthiest citizens and our most impoverished ones.
(3). Increasing real estate, meals and lodging taxes will further transform our 10.27-mile city into an epicenter of wealthy single family homes.
(4). Increasing the real estate, meals and lodging taxes are regressive tactics. They ultimately hurt the poorest citizens in Charlottesville, who City Council purports to champion.
(5). In a recent survey, 44% of African Americans said they did not feel welcomed on The Downtown Mall. If City Council increases the real estate, meals and lodging taxes, this will make the majority of businesses more expensive on The Mall. As a result, this will make The Mall less approachable and less welcoming.
(6). We are not even two years removed from A12. We should make Charlottesville and The Downtown Mall more approachable and welcoming to people of all races and socioeconomic levels. When you increase the cost of real estate, restaurants and lodging, you are creating a financial barrier of entry.
(7). When City Council discusses increasing real estate, meals and lodging taxes in public meetings, the local media will cover these discussions. As a result, these discussions generate front-page stories, 15-second sound bytes on TV newscasts and topic points for talk radio. This media attention creates an impression that real estate, restaurants and hotels are more expensive, which will keep our citizens from patronizing these establishments. Perception is reality, unfortunately.
(8). Our hotels on and around The Downtown Mall are down 10.4% year over year. If and when City Council raises the lodging tax, this will negatively impact our hotels even more.
(9). Increasing taxes on our small business owners will cause these entrepreneurs to potentially terminate employees and possibly move their business operations from the City of Charlottesville to the urban ring and the outer counties in Central Virginia.
In conclusion, I understand that City Council is trying to win the “long-game” by trying to find more money for a budget deficit, but the “short-game” is looking pretty rough from my vantage point because of the points outlined above. I understand that increasing taxes is a necessary evil. However, now is not the right time to do it.
Please let me know your thoughts. Please “like” and “share” this post if you think others should read it.
I will tag our City Councilors so they know I am not discussing things behind their back, but rather being upfront and transparent with them. I will also tag City Council candidates to keep these important items on their radar.
There are three City Council spots up for reelection in 2019. The June 11 primary, not the November election, will determine these three spots. Please vote. Please understand what is going on in our community. We are at a crossroads right now that will determine the future of Charlottesville, Virginia.
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