TJPDC round-up: Assessments up all over, Nelson County commuting patterns

The Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission is made up of five counties and the City of Charlottesville. Like similar bodies across Virginia, the TJPDC’s mission is to help those localities with both planning and implementation. 

For instance, the TJPDC is currently leading a 13-county effort to use federal funding to leverage private dollars to expand broadband internet across southern and central Virginia. Locally, the body now collects county-issued cigarette taxes. 

The Board of Commissioners meets monthly and provides an opportunity to check-in with what’s happening around the region. All across Virginia, it is budget time and that includes Louisa County, where Rachel Jones represents the Green Springs District on the Board of Supervisors.

“Our [real estate property] assessments went through the roof and I think many of yours did, too,” Jones said. “It’s not just Louisa County. It hits hard for our residents. Last year we did make adjustments to our personal property tax and I think we will be probably be figuring out if there’s anything we can do to help with our assessments.” 

Fluvanna County also has higher real estate property assessments according to Supervisor Tony O’Brien. 

“We’re up I think about 17 percent which is pretty significant,” O’Brien said. “Our equalized rate would be 77 cents or something like that.”

The equalized rate is something Virginia code requires localities to publish that represents what the real property tax rate would need to be to keep revenues neutral. O’Brien said a big item in the budget is a long-term plan for the county to run its own Emergency Medical Services department. 

Next, Nelson County Supervisor Jesse Rutherford said his locality is also thinking new ideas about linking real property taxes with the provision of housing to residents versus tourists. 

“Board members had some thoughts on real estate tax mitigation for people who choose to have long-term rentals especially in homes that were dilapidated and were remodeled,” Rutherford said. “What does that look like?” 

Rutherford also said that Nelson County is past the middle of its Comprehensive Plan update, which he said is getting into the nitty-gritty of data, such as commuting patterns. For instance, 1,660 people live and work in Nelson and 4,837 commute to jobs elsewhere. 

“The number… of people who have to come into Nelson County to work Nelson County jobs, and that number is above 2,000,” Rutherford said. “We had a long lengthy discussion in the Comprehensive Plan about what that data means to us. Does that mean we want that 4,800 to live and work in Nelson County? Does that mean we want those 2,000 to be able to infiltrate our economy and live, that 2,000?”

Rutherford said the average home sales is over $400,000, which is way outside the range for many of those people commuting for those jobs.  He said that Amherst County is also playing a role in Nelson’s workforce.

“We’ve come to the realization that Amherst County is having to field a lot of our talent-specific roles and a lot of our kind of low-end infiltration to certain career paths,” Rutherford said. “So Amherst County is fielding our jobs just as Nelson County is fielding the jobs of Albemarle and Charlottesville which is a perplexing thing to be in a rural county context.” 

One day when Charlottesville Community Engagement expands, there will be many more stories about all of these things. For now, we leave it there and hope to be back soon with more. 

Before you go: The time to write and research of this article is covered by paid subscribers to Charlottesville Community Engagement. In fact, this particular installment comes from the March 9, 2023 edition of the program. To ensure this research can be sustained, please consider becoming a paid subscriber or contributing monthly through Patreon.

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