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March 2, 2020 · OPINION

Funding teacher salaries would cost household $260

By Mike Hammond

For several years Fauquier County has discussed the poor state of teacher salaries and its impact on teachers and teacher retention. Few people are opposed to teachers earning more money, except when I start talking about where that money will come from. The most direct route is through an increase in local funding, in other words taxes.

Superintendent David Jeck’s proposed budget noted that getting teachers to 100 percent of market value for their salary would cost $5.2 million. That seems like an extraordinary amount of money, but if we break it down, it seems less onerous.

According to the Census Bureau, there are 24,333 households in the county. If each household contributed $5 a week or $260 a year, we would be able to close this gap. That’s less than one large Starbucks coffee a week. As a community, are we willing to sacrifice a little so those who need it can get what they deserve? This is the pact we make to provide public services funded with tax dollars. We are saying we will share our earnings so that the community can be stronger.

I’m not saying this is the only way to provide well deserved teachers pay increases, but it is the most expedient. I know we need to review the current school budget and ensure the school board is being responsible with our tax dollars. I know we need to lobby lawmakers in Richmond to increase funding for education. I know the federal government needs to prioritize funding for education. I also know this is our community and our responsibility to do what we can to provide for it.

Almost every person in Fauquier County can trace their success in work and life to education at a public school. We should all be willing to sacrifice a little more to make sure that our county can hire and retain highly qualified teachers to give our children an opportunity to succeed.

The writer finished second in a three-way race for the Scott District school board seat in the November 2019 election.

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brandonj · March 10, 2020 at 9:31 pm
TLDR (on this topic)
1. residential homeowners (peons) are going to front the cost of the tax increase
2. the school board will ask for more next year - they'll probably have to build gender neutral shower facilities or something
3. the feudal landlords with clean fingernails will continue to get tax exemption for being "farmers"
psuz · March 9, 2020 at 3:34 am
Getting trained under highly qualified teachers is a basic right of students. To ensure this, it is necessary to provide a proper salary to qualified teachers. The initiative mentioned in this article is the best as it helps in reminding the fact that the prime responsibility of a community is to educate their children.
truthanyone? · March 5, 2020 at 9:32 pm
Bully!!! I totally agree with AngryBob. So many landowners in this county get huge tax breaks, including some former BOS members. However, I think the bigger sin here is the "not in my backyard" mentality this county has had over the last 20 years that has really handicapped their ability to generate revenue. After all, rooftops (residential structures) require services (fire/rescue, law enforcement, schools, etc) yet don't bring in as much tax revenue as businesses. Couple that with the tax breaks for the people squatting on "farms" and you have a double whammy that honest, hard working people have to foot the bill for. Not saying we have to be Central Park in Fredericksburg but we can't have it both ways. And @Jim Griffin, thanks for clearing that up. Most people don't understand the evil eminent domain hook. Thank God this county doesn't really do that very often. Now the state........
AngryBob · March 4, 2020 at 9:44 am
I tried to put some cattle on my 1/4 acre in Vint Hill to get the tax break, but the HOA wasn't too happy about it.
Silii · March 3, 2020 at 6:39 pm
Angry Bob hit the bullseye. Put a few head of someone else's cattle on your farmette and get your agricultural land use tax break, as does the actual owner of the cattle. And, btw, the folks doing this stuff generally send their kids to private schools so they really don't give a darn about public education. They're far too snooty and entitled.
Jim Griffin · March 3, 2020 at 4:17 pm
A few additional comments.

If you own intellectual property, there are termination rights that permit assignments made 35 years ago to be terminated. I threw that in here for those reading who may have assigned to someone else their copyright, such as a book, software, music, movie, etc.

With real property, federal, state, county and municipal authorities have the power of eminent domain. Should future govts wish to reverse a conservation easement, they would use eminent domain (and compensate for the rights claimed -- in this case, again, because they bought those rights with taxpayer money before and then gave those rights away).

So while FF is correct that the county does not own the easement purchased with taxpayers' money (that should raise more than a few eyebrows), it doesn't need to own it to seize it later on.
Jim Griffin · March 3, 2020 at 3:47 pm
Governments can undo conservation easements:

You're correct, sellers (and their descendants) cannot.

Government is a different creature, as are the committees that administer the rights purchased.
fauquierflash · March 3, 2020 at 3:34 pm
Ms Ward Once a property is in Easement, it stays in an Easement.
fauquierflash · March 3, 2020 at 3:33 pm

The County does not own any of the Easements. When a property owner decides to sell, the County has no control over that. They sell to whomever wants to purchase the property.
Linda Ward · March 3, 2020 at 3:32 pm
Jim - "Worse still, someday the joke will be on us for trusting them -- they'll undo easements when they "need" the land."

We've been wondering about that. What happens if someone who inherits a piece of property that is in Conservation Easement takes it out of the CE? Can they do that?
Jim Griffin · March 3, 2020 at 12:04 pm
1. A free market in real property is better than govt control. Basic economic theory.

2. Stop blaming residents, claiming they cost more than farms. They do not. They earn, spend, work and more -- the backbone of our local economy.

The Rockefeller Foundation cons locals into tax breaks that leave the average person holding the bag. Guess which famous family owns lots of large farms?

Our govt now owns more than a quarter of the county's land and continues to tax and spend to acquire more. Worse still, someday the joke will be on us for trusting them -- they'll undo easements when they "need" the land.
Demosthenes · March 3, 2020 at 10:33 am
I agree with AngryBob. It is far past time to stop local government from interfering in the free market while handing out tax breaks to the rich.
AngryBob · March 3, 2020 at 9:30 am
How about the county stops paying wealthy hobby farm owners for "conservation" easements and instead put the money into schools? Or how about ending "agricultural" tax breaks for multi-million dollar estates because they have an alpaca wandering around. That would bring in more "local funding".
jim goodwin · March 2, 2020 at 1:10 pm
I'd be all for it if we hired highly qualified teachers that aren't propagandists operating under the influence of Deep Equity.
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