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Whose Fair Share?

Sandhya Somashekhar

A common gripe around Loudoun County these days has been the way Richmond divvies up the tax money generated by Northern Virginia, the state's "economic engine."

Only a fraction of every tax dollar generated in Northern Virginia comes back in the form of road improvements, school funding and similar benefits. Candidates keep demanding "our fair share" to pay for the county's badly needed schools and roads.

But two state delegates this week broke from the chorus.

At a Loudoun Chamber of Commerce candidates' forum Thursday, Dels. David E. Poisson (D) and Joe T. May (R) agreed that the formula could use some more "balance," but spoke of the importance of helping out some of their brethren down south.

"It is a little bit of the issue of, How much are you your brother's keeper?" said May. In some less fortunate areas, May said, "if we don't underwrite their educational process to a considerable degree, things are only going to get worse."

In the well-heeled Washington area, it is easy to forget that the income disparity within Virginia is rather dramatic. For example, the median household income in Lee County in the far southwestern corner of Virginia was $26,106 in 2004, according to the Census bureau. That same year, the median household income in Loudoun was $96,225.
Poisson said that Northern Virginia students are disproportionally represented in the state's highly rated colleges, which get the benefit of tax money generated from across the state.

By Sandhya Somashekhar  |  October 18, 2007; 8:50 PM ET
Categories:  Loudoun County , Sandhya Somashekhar  
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