At the Fauquier County Board of Supervisor’s public hearing on 1/10/13, there were some notable items on the evening’s agenda.
The Board passed a resolution supporting Sunday Hunting on private property, a bill that was introduced and championed by Scott Lingamfelter in 2012 and which he is the co-patron in this year’s version of the bill in the General Assembly.
The Board also passed, on a 3-2 vote, a school bond adding over $4,000,000.00 to the Fauquier High School remodeling slush fund. This was quite a remarkable reversal of events. A little more than one year ago the Board of Supervisors AND the School Board promised all of the citizens of Fauquier County, in a very public debate, that they would not be spending another dime for this school remodeling effort for 15 years. Both Boards at the time said they would make the funds that were allocated work.
And to top that, when the members who would later vote against the school bond pointed out this new bond would not be the end of the slow bleed called the Fauquier High School renovation project, those who voted for this additional money could not refute the fact that the $4,000,000 will not be all the funds needed to complete this project.
Now one might think this meeting could not possibly have anything worse than our elected officials backing down on their solemn promise on the FHS renovation funding, but then one would be mistaken.
It is regretful that School Superintendent Lewis, who never saw an anti-bullying program he did not like, is no longer here. If he had heard the discussion by our leaders when they discussed the alleged merits of the BOS Resolution condemning Delegate Lingamfelter’s “Boneta Bill”, we are sure he would have recommended a course of reasoning less intimidating to the area’s farming community.
Center District Representative Granger, in an apparent swivet, led the indignant discussion by offering what could truly be called a threat. He stated menacingly that this bill, if passed, could change the land use tax assessment of farmers. He went on to say “The Boneta Bill” would make farmers no different than businesses in downtown Warrenton for taxation purposes.
Since it is the Board who decides county taxation requirements, this statement has a far-reaching affect. Of course, if this was the thought of just one supervisor, one could take some solace in the fact that there would have to be two other votes to make this taxation change a reality.
Any doubt about the seriousness of this threat was soon erased when every other Board member affirmed Granger’s rhetoric with hardy affirmations. “I agree with Chris” was heard several more times.
Since 1971, Virginia has sanctioned Agricultural and Forestal Districts for every county. The Virginia Department of Forestry states, on its webpage the purposes of land use tax assessments are:
Small farmers across the state, who are by all accounts, struggling to make ends meet, would be devastated by the loss of this land use designation.
Martha Moore, Vice President of Governmental Relations at the Virginia Farm Bureau Federation, in speaking to this issue, said “Without land use assessment the tax burden would increase so rapidly that the land would not be able to be used for agriculture or forest operations. There would be development at a rapid pace rather than at a planned pace.”
When told about Granger’s statement, “Boneta Bill” supporter Mark Fitzgibbons was incensed. He said of Granger’s statement “It is a threat. It is bullying and intimidation. This will only prompt the next pitchfork protest, but this time it won’t be with mock pitchforks. These supervisors need advice from adults, perhaps therapy, perhaps a spanking over the knee.”
When Delegate Lingamfelter’s office was contacted, they did not want to go on the record with a statement, but Delegate Lingamfelter did say he had assured all the Fauquier County Board Members they would, if desired, be given ample time to testify in Richmond before the Agricultural Committee, the committee deciding on the fate of the bill.
As of today, we have no word as to whether or not the Board will be taking this opportunity.