Opinion: Letter to the Editor: Vote on Amendments

Opinion: Letter to the Editor: Vote on Amendments

Virginia is one of those “lucky” states that has elections every single year. It’s not easy to keep track of who is on the ballot, let alone any constitutional amendments to consider. As such, many residents are likely unaware that there are two constitutional amendments Alexandrians can vote for on the back of our ballot on Nov. 6. Both are positive improvements that the Alexandria Democrats recommend voting “yes” on.

The first amendment is necessary thanks to our state’s “Dillon Rule,” which requires that local governments be granted authority from the state before passing local ordinances. This topic of this one is creating tax exemptions for properties that implement flood resilience measures. In essence, if a locality wants to encourage its building owners to implement changes to protect from flood damage, it can offer a partial tax exemption to do so. Such projects could be building floodwalls and elevating or relocating electrical panel boxes, furnaces, water heaters, washers and dryers. Considering how much flooding Alexandria has seen, with 20 percent of our city mapped as a “floodplain,” it seems beneficial to pass this constitutional amendment and give Alexandria (and really, any city in Virginia) the opportunity to create an ordinance to allow such tax incentives.

The second amendment supports disabled veterans’ surviving spouses. Currently, a disabled veteran’s surviving spouse has the benefit of paying zero property taxes on the home they shared with the veteran. But, if they move or re-marry, they lose that tax-free property status. This change allows the exempt property tax status to apply to any future home that surviving spouse may move to as their new primary residence. It gives surviving spouses mobility in time of emotional and/or financial hardship.

Let’s allow Virginia cities the option to enact tax exemptions for flood resilience measures. Let’s allow disabled veterans’ surviving spouses the flexibility to move residences while still retaining property tax-exemption. Let’s vote “yes” on both constitutional amendments this November.

Marta Schantz