April, 2012

Discontinue the PDR Program

The PDR program has paid 40 landowners in Fauquier County a total of $11,525,000 since its inception in 2002. Sixty-eight percent of that money came from County taxes, most of the remainder from State tax revenues, and a small percentage from voluntary donations. The 40 landowners received an average of $288,125 for development rights to land I doubt most had any intention of developing. The highest amount paid to one family was $1,020,000 and the lowest $125,000.

According to the Fauquier Farm Bureau opinion letter, this use of our money "means a farmer is not forced to subdivide and develop land to realize its value". The idea that taxpayers must subsidize farms to keep them viable is patently ridiculous. That is a concept better associated with socialism than capitalism.

The Farm Bureau letter went on to justify this use of taxpayer's money by stating "For each dollar paid in taxes, agriculture land, on average, uses 34 cents in county resources". I do not understand how this is relevant as a justification. Every person needs to pay their own share of costs to support our county infrastructure -- if the tax code isn't balanced, balance it! Proffers for new home construction is one way to do that. Taxing everyone for the benefit of a few is not reasonable.

And, if people want to be surrounded by more open space, they can purchase more land themselves or join likewise minded people and donate their money to a non-taxpayer provided fund to purchase those "development rights". They need to take some personal responsibility and let the rest of us decide what to do with our money.

Virginia is also using some of our money via the Virginia Agriculture Best Management Practice (BMP) program to pay large land owners to build fences to keep livestock from polluting their streams. Why are we not fining people who pollute streams that leave their property instead? After all, their rights end at their property lines.

America used to be a nation of independent people who worked hard to realize their dreams. When things got difficult, they got innovative and even more determined to succeed. Now we elect people to manage our government who encourage some to just put their hand out for the taxpayer to "lift them up".

I say stop funding the PDR and BMP Programs with taxpayer money and get back to using it for essential infrastructure support only.

Rex A. Hoover