Supervisors consider potential loss of tax revenue

Published 11:13 am Thursday, October 17, 2019

For a second time this year, during its monthly meeting, the Charlotte County Board of Supervisors (BOS) tabled an action that would give the Virginia Department of Forestry (VDOF) support in bringing a state park to the county but could potently cost loss in tax revenue.

Harvey Darden, Agency Lands director with VDOF addressed the BOS on Sept. 11, seeking a letter of support from the county; however, the BOS tabled the request siting they needed more information from Darden.

According to Darden, the letter of support would help the VDOF in applying for grants.

“Currently, there is no state forest in Charlotte County, and this property would provide access and recreational opportunities to citizens that wish to hike, bike, horseback ride, hunt, or enjoy nature at no cost to the county,” said Darden.

The Virginia Department of Forestry (VDOF) is in discussion with The Conservation Fund (TCF) for the possible purchase of 4,944 acres of land currently owned by Stanley Lumber Company in Charlotte County in hopes of turning it into a state forest.

The land is adjacent to  Double Bridges Road and Mossingford Road near Drakes Branch.

According to Darden, the VDOF does not pay real estate taxes on property, but with the purchase of the land, the county would receive 25% of any timber sales.

It was during the September meeting that Darden told board members, “I looked up the current tax value with the taxes all on these parcels, and it’s $37,532,” he said.

According to County Administrator Daniel Witt, those figures are old land values; however, the new assessed value of the land is approximately $52,000. “He did provide the old tax numbers,” said Witt. “That was not the reassessed price … he didn’t click on the right link on our website. The actual assessed tax values of that land are approximately $52,000.”

Concern for the loss of tax revenue raised questions for the BOS in which they requested a timber management plan from Darden to determine how much of the 4,944 acres would be harvestable timber. “This board had asked for a management plan from Mr. Darden, but he said that it would take hundreds of hours to develop for that. So, he’s basically saying he’s not going to provide a management plan,” added Witt.

Witt continued to say that Darden did provide timber sales figures for over a ten-year period, noting that the county could see $500,000 in timber sales for the time, which is about equal to the real estate taxes. “He did not include anything in the revenue that would be added for people coming into the county that utilize the trails and things that may be purchased, such as meals and gas and stays in hotels or whatever within the county,” Witt said.

Still concerned with revenue that the county may be losing Wylliesburg/Red Oak Supervisor Kay Pierantoni said she wrote a letter to the governor adding her concerns. “Citizens should know the bottom line on costs,” Pierantoni’s letter read. “I’m only one supervisor. If the data presented is a true indication of harvests that will truly occur, Charlotte County should be OK for at least 10 years. However, if these harvests don’t occur, citizens here will suffer further.”

Pierantoni said she felt it was her duty at the local level to make leaders at the state level aware of the burden that localities can sometimes bear.

During the public comment period county citizens, Katy Liston and Bill Devin, addressed the BOS, stating their concerns for lost tax revenue. “I’m asking you to put a hold button on this, “said Liston. “We need more research. If we are losing tax revenue … we can’t afford that.”

Devin echoed those statements saying, “I ask that you look at this issue thoroughly, he said. “We need every dollar we can get.”

BOS members now plan to go and tour the land and revisit the matter at its November meeting.