Letter: Noble? Not really.

It was quite a compliment for me to read my name in concert with Bill Dietel’s and Ken Thompson’s in last week’s article, “Proposed tax rate rise is 5 cents.” Our collective willingness to pay higher taxes to support next year’s county budget, though, is not noble, Mr. Cioffi. It’s our civic responsibility – yours, mine and ours – to pay for Rappahannock County’s infrastructure. There is nothing more important to our community than the safety of our citizens and the education of our youth. Haven’t you heard that there are molesters and murderers, thieves and embezzlers, drunk drivers and drug dealers in our midst? Or that our schools have had a flat budget for five years, while the cost of everything to do with educating our children has gone up?

Our teachers, administrators, support staff and coaches work day-in and day-out to ensure the children of Rappahannock are prepared for their “next step” – now, that’s noble. There are few, if any, frills at Rappahannock’s schools. The niceties are often provided by generous folks in this county who happen to think that our kids need a safe and engaging playground or after-school program, sports equipment or facilities that help to make our teams competitive, or trips that pit our award-winning students against some of the best bands and TSA and Scholastic Bowl teams in the land, or scholarships that enable our students to continue their journey of learning well beyond the halls of RCHS. This year’s school budget isn’t about niceties. It’s a very “meat-and-potatoes” budget about teachers and buses and the kids.

The land-rich beauty of our county is both a blessing and a curse. Because of the extreme values of our properties, right or wrong, we’re strapped with a Land Composite Index (LCI) that is the highest it can be. As a result, it falls to us, everyone who owns property here, to pay the bulk of our county’s expenses. The 5-cent increase on taxes for a $400,000 property equates to a $16.67 per month increase; more if your property is pricier, less if it’s not.  As with most things, I believe you get out of something what you put into it, and I happen to think that our citizens, young and old, are worth another $16.67 a month. That’s not noble, that’s just right.

Amy J. Burnett

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