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Posted at 6:24 PM ET, 02/ 3/2010

A fair school aid formula for all of Virginia

By washingtonpost.com editors

Gordon Eliot White
Deltaville, Va.

Regarding the Feb. 1 Local Opinions commentary “Insult from Richmond” by Sharon Bulova, Corey A. Stewart and Scott K. York:

The issue of Virginia’s “Local Composite Index” (LCI), which is used in an attempt to equalize state education grants to localities based on their supposed ability to support their schools, is a sore point in much of the state. In their piece, the writers pointed out that because of lower real estate values, the LCI for their counties in 2010 ought to be lower and, thus, their funding from Richmond higher. I wonder, though: Haven’t real estate values declined all across Virginia, not just in Fairfax, Prince William and Loudoun counties?

In Middlesex County, where I live, reassessments are done on a four-year cycle. They were last updated in 2008, based on mid-2007 sales, very close to the 2006 peak in real estate values. Middlesex, with a population of just under 10,000, has no industry to speak of beyond agriculture and recreational boating. Fortunately, it has a large population of summer, weekend and senior residents who don’t have children in the public schools. But it also has a lot of waterfront property, to which Richmond attributes high values, thus raising the Middlesex LCI a great deal.

Unfortunately, even waterfront property with conservation easements, which is taxed far below its full value, is factored into the county’s LCI at the value it would have if it were not under easement.

Perhaps Richmond, rather than freezing LCI values, as outgoing governor Timothy M. Kaine suggested, should reexamine them and adjust them to the reality of the depressed real estate market and eliminate the distorting effect of such measures as conservation easements.

By washingtonpost.com editors  | February 3, 2010; 6:24 PM ET
Categories:  HotTopic, Virginia, schools  
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Comments

The problem is more money goes to Richmond from Northern va and very little comes back in return. Why have LCI on the books if you're not going to continue to use it for what it was intended? Richmond is a clusterfuc*, kind of like a black hole...Money goes in and nothing comes out. Kaine will go down as one of the worst governors in va history just based on his poor decisions. I keep wondering why northern va hasn't succeeded from the rest of Virginia? Imagine keeping 100% of the money locally? Gordon, as far as real estate values declining, yes, but I doubt Middlesex has seen anything close to northern va decline(which is the area you wrote about), where 500K-600K townhomes are selling for 200K. If the LCI is not being updated this year, then just get rid of it.

Posted by: larry40 | February 4, 2010 12:49 PM | Report abuse

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