vanessa-newVanessa Remmers covers Stafford County government and schools for and The Free Lance-Star.

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Do you know where your money is?

ZIP codes have been a hot item lately. Henrico County, which borders the City of Richmond, found that millions in tax revenue had improperly gone to the city. Spotsylvania is concerned about losing tax revenue to the City of Fredericksburg because so many Spotsy residents and businesses have a Fredericksburg address.

The same scenario applies to Stafford, where a good portion of the county is classified by the USPS as “Fredericksburg.”

Last week, board members raised concerns that Stafford tax dollars may be mistakenly finding their way into Fredericksburg’s pockets.

“It is a problem, and I’m sure we’re losing revenue,” said Commissioner of the Revenue Scott Mayausky. He could not point to specific examples, but remained certain that Fredericksburg has ended up with money due to Stafford.

“I don’t think it’s the millions you might hear about in Henrico,” he assured the board.

Mayausky went on to say that Fredericksburg does its best to make sure any wayward payments find their way to their rightful homes. The problem, it seems, might be more of an identity issue than a technical one.

Unlike Henrico, which actually shared a ZIP code with neighboring Richmond, All of Stafford’s codes are distinct from the City itself. In fact, the “Fredericksburg” designation may be a benefit to some Stafford businesses. Deputy County Administrator Tim Baroody cited hotels as one business that would prefer to have a “Fredericksburg” designation.

Also in fact, Stafford’s “Fredericksburg” areas have secondary or even tertiary designations. It is possible to address a letter to “Falmouth” or “Hartwood” or even “Stafford” and it will still get to the “Fredericksburg” address.

The board did not take any action, but it could come back up—soon, if officials discover a major money leak pouring into Fredericksburg. If that doesn’t happen, it might just come back as a matter of taste.

“It’s a matter of identity that is important to me,” Supervisor Paul Milde said. “It’s time for Stafford to take its identity back.”

If you share that feeling, start telling your friends and family you live in Hartwood, not Fredericksburg. Only if you actually live in Hartwood, of course.

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