Spotsylvania News

Jeff Branscome writes about Spotsylvania County.

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Taxes increase after lively debate

The Spotsylvania Board of Supervisors voted 4-3 to increase the personal property tax rate from $5 to $6.26 per $100 of assessed value, a 7-cent decrease from what Interim County Administrator Doug Barnes recommended in the fiscal year 2010 budget. Of that 7-cent decrease, the school system will sustain 67 percent of it. That means the school system will have to cut $465,000 from its budget (I’ve been told they will use stimulus funds) and the county will have to cut $229,000, likely coming from its reserve funds.

Supervisors Gary Jackson and Jerry Logan were the strongest opponents of the tax increase. Jackson questioned the school’s early retirement program, and said it has an "interesting twist" because most buy-out programs are used to reduce workforce. Logan, who is an owner of a local business, said the rise in the tax rate would hurt businesses and possibly further hamper car sales. He said a person buying a $30,000 car would pay $950, or $200 extra, for the personal property tax rate.

Gary Skinner was one of the biggest proponents to increase the tax rate and save the schools from further cuts. He and Logan went back and forth, albeit gentlemanly, about whether to increase the tax rate. Skinner’s argument was that this tax has not been increased since 1993 and it ends up being a relatively small increase when split over 12 months. He said he rather use that money to help the school system. 


  • 1958

    Formaldehyde and Camping – How Dangerous is It?

    Written on April 18, 2009 – 2:03 pm

    Google Blogs Alert for: formaldehyde

    If you ask one resident of Fredericksburg, Virginia, she will tell you just how dangerous she and her husband believe formaldehyde to be. Three years ago, they bought a new recreational travel trailer because her family spent most of their spring, summer, and fall months camping. They decided a larger trailer with more amenities would be the way to go, especially since they also took their four Chihuahua dogs with them on every trip. Therefore, in 2004, they purchased a brand-new 2005 Forest River Wildwood fifth-wheel travel trailer, believing they would be able to go camping at any time of the year in comfort and safety.

    Soon after first using the travel trailer, both began having problems with headaches, respiratory difficulties, and sinus infections after spending a week in the camper; however, at first they had not connected those conditions to the trailer itself. Then, by January 2006, the dogs began to get sick. By May 2007, they had lost three dogs, two from heart and lung illnesses and another one died from bone cancer. When their veterinarian suggested they have the trailer tested, they found out about formaldehyde poisoning.

    Initial testing showed the toxic levels in the travel trailer to be 0.119 ppm (parts per million) when the levels considered normal were 0.1 ppm – the level at which EPA and other agencies agree that negative acute health issues can occur. The Virginia State Health Department advised them this result was double what was considered safe. They were referred to a doctor who deals only with people that have been in a toxic environment and which could possibly cause them to become seriously ill or even develop cancer. The couple was also warned to stay out of the trailer, to not use it for any camping or to use anything that had been used or stored inside of it. Two more testing kits showed no improvement in the level of formaldehyde. They had just become one of the many victims of “formaldehyde poisoning”.The symptoms formaldehyde poisoning may produce are numerous and people suffering from them may be unable to work or engage in recreational activities. Formaldehyde may cause several diverse symptoms with one or more of the following: Nosebleeds, seizures, migraines, headaches, coughing, wheezing, pain, dizziness, irritated skin and burns, irritation of the eyes, nose, or throat, difficulty breathing, itching, respiratory problems, pulmonary illnesses with injury, and injury to the gastrointestinal tract. All have all been associated with formaldehyde found in the manufacture of many stick built homes, pre-fabricated and manufactured housing structures, including recreational units. Once sensitized to formaldehyde, individuals appear to be more prone to having additional symptoms in a shorter amount of time.

    Formaldehyde is often used as a chemical in embalming and as glue in many building materials and is one of the most used chemicals in the world. Formaldehyde is currently one of the biggest problems found in the FEMA trailers that have been used for victims of hurricanes Rita and Katrina in the past few years. People in other parts of the United States were also developing an assortment of illnesses. Testing of many recreational vehicles, travel trailers, and campers, manufactured by the same people who made the FEMA trailers, found formaldehyde levels far exceeding what is considered safe. Formaldehyde can cause cancer and it has been classified as a carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer. It has also been listed as a probable carcinogen by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

    During their research, the family found out that the CDC testing of air quality in FEMA trailers in 2008 revealed Pilgrim, Gulf Stream, Keystone, and Forest River trailers as the worst offenders. They also found that their camper was not covered for any health issues arising out of the levels of formaldehyde. Airing out the camper, as suggested by the manufacturer, did not lessen the levels of formaldehyde. In fact, during the summer, the levels were even higher due to the out-gassing of formaldehyde from the materials used to build the camper from the heat and humidity.

    After numerous emails, regular mail, and telephone calls, the family has been very frustrated in not being able to either get the Forest River manufacturer to fix the problem or take the trailer back or refund their purchase price. Their agent, who runs a large local Forest River dealership, has tried to help with little success and is angry himself with the company. He told the family there may not even be a “safe camper”.Currently, there are few standards for using materials containing formaldehyde in any building with the exception of mobile homes. However, some states

  • wizard1073

    It is in my nature to distrust government, I and suspect that this tax increase will not go away.

    If I read this article correctly, then business property taxes are also going up. I just filed my business property return so that the county can assess this tax upon me correctly. I estimate this will cost my business about $1,000 more per year.

    For all you consumers out there, this tax falls on all tangible assets that a business owns: furniture, fixtures, computers, (expensive) medical equipment, industrial machinery and equipment, etc. If it can be touched, it is taxed!

    I don’t want to hear any bellyaching from anyone about how “business should pay their fair share.” For non-businesses (i.e., people who live in the county), taxable personal property does not include “all tangible assets.” If it did, there would be a tax riot.

    We small business owners will end up taking it on the chin from this one.

  • dantelvock


    Supervisors can always lower the rate again if revenues increase like the good ol’ days. It just depends on the makeup of the county board. Tax rates go up and down. The personal property tax rate has not increased since 1993. Some argued that supervisors should have increased the rate a long time ago. The tax on business fixtures is not as high as the regular personal property tax rate, however. Just wanted to point that out.