Living in Southampton has become costly

Published 9:01 am Friday, December 2, 2011

To the Editor:

My wife read me your column (“Reassessment means paying higher property taxes,” Nov. 20 by guest columnist Peter Griffith) from The Tidewater News.

We commend him for his well-written article. We were wondering if anyone would come forward who felt the same way we do.

We live in Courtland. We moved here seven years ago. The first couple of years were great. Gas was 99 cents a gallon. We met a nice couple down the road.

In a short period of time, everything started going downhill. Most of it was when gas started going up. Most people in this area seem to work outside the county with a 30- to 60-mile commute. My friend down the street was a longshoreman; he traveled from Courtland to Norfolk every day.

The home he built was his dream home. He stayed there a little over two years until he just couldn’t afford the commute anymore. After the house was on the market almost a year, it sold.

Since my family and I have moved onto this street, there are about 12 newer homes than mine now. There have been seven foreclosures on this street, and two are empty right now. One home at the other end of the street is less than five years old with the top floor windows knocked out and the gutter hanging half off.

Now, in the middle of all this depression, I’m trying to figure out what kind of Christmas we’re going to have after paying personal property taxes. I get a letter in the mail saying my home reassessment has gone up.

My wife and I went to town hall, each on separate days, to argue the assessment. I have told everyone they need to go to town hall to contest these taxes. Not only are we paying our taxes, but we’re paying the taxes of the foreign minority that you see in almost every Ma and Paw convenience store that sells gas, who get tax breaks for seven years only to then put the business in another family member’s name for another seven years of tax breaks.

From what I understand, the person or people who assessed my home are from the Roanoke area. What gives these people the right to come on my property and tell me what it’s worth, when my next-door neighbors, who keep their home in immaculate condition, took their house off the market after two years with no sale?

Michael Beck