Charlottesville and Albemarle Retail Retreat

According to a recently released report by The Charlottesville Regional Chamber of Commerce, Charlottesville and Albemarle County are seeing local retail sales tax decreases while counties such as Augusta, Greene, and Louisa are seeing increases in their retail sales tax revenue.

Monthly Local Option One Percent Sales Tax Revenue

 

 

 

 

 

Through Sept 2008

 

 

YTD Percent Change

 

 

2007/2008

 

 

 

Albemarle County

-3.86%

Augusta County

6.54%

Charlottesville City

-3.59%

Greene County

2.62%

Louisa County

19.07%

Waynesboro City

5.78%

 

 

 

Source:  VA Department of Taxation

This report comes out at the same time as the Virginia Employment Commission reports the entire Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) which includes Charlottesville, Albemarle, Fluvanna, Greene and Nelson suffered a net loss of 500 jobs between September 2007 and September of this year.  Brian McNeil has the story in today’s Daily Progress.

What is remarkable is that the Albemarle Board of Supervisors were told just a few weeks ago (in preparation for their retreat) that the business climate was positive and jobs were being added to the regional economy.   One supervisor questioned the assertion suggesting sales tax revenues were down.  Staff replied such revenues were down across the region — This report debunks that notion.

The Free Enterprise Forum believes the latest figures on retail sales are the manifestation of anti-business/anti-retail philosophy in Albemarle County (and to a lesser degree Charlottesville).  Albemarle’s Planning Commission and Architectural review Board have on many occasions suggested that they will not accept Retailer X’s business model and the architectural elements required of their plan. 

The consensus opinion has been if Retailer X really wants to operate in Albemarle County they must meet our high community standard of development.  Individuals have suggested that a two story home improvement store is in operation in Arlington, Virginia surely such a model could work in Albemarle.  What such a philosophy ignores is the other options available.  In Albemarle, there are several other close by localities with ample development opportunities that would welcome a one story big box with the jobs and retail sales tax revenue it represents.  While The Free Enterprise Forum has heard the argument that these are “just” retail jobs and not “good” jobs, we believe any job is a good job. 

When local government stands in the way of citizens being able to obtain jobs and reduce reliance on property taxes, it is time for a change.  Highly regulated development policies play a role in business location and business relocation.  If Charlottesville and Albemarle continue to lose sales tax revenue to more business friendly localities, they will become even more dependant on property tax revenue.   Local government has few revenue options, this loss of revenue should be a call to arms to reduce regulatory barriers to work to retain existing businesses in town.

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