On your ballot: Constitutional amendment addresses flooding and property taxes

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PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — When you head to the polls on Tuesday, you will also see on the ballot two constitutional amendment questions.

One is directly aimed at addressing increased flooding in our area. It would basically give a tax break to property owners who execute flood abatement projects on their property.

A list of the most hurricane vulnerable cities on the East Coast ranks the Norfolk-Virginia Beach area, fourth.

Damage in North Carolina from Hurricane Florence has approached $17 Billion and Hurricane Michael will likely cost Florida more than $4.5 billion.

That is why Senator Lynwood Lewis (D) says Virginia needs the constitutional amendment. Lewis serves District 6 which includes Accomack County, Mathews County, Northampton County, part of Norfolk City, and part of Virginia Beach.

“Resiliency is much cheaper when you are proactive about it than if you try to do damage control after the fact,” he told WAVY.com. 

The question on your ballot reads:  

“Should a county, city, or town be authorized to provide a partial tax exemption for real property that is subject to recurrent flooding, if flooding resiliency improvements have been made on the property?”

That means, if you vote yes and the measure passes,  the General Assembly would allow, but not force, localities to give tax exemptions.

Then, individual localities would decide if they want  to offer the tax break, to whom and for what projects.

Projects could include things such as:  

– installing flood vents

– raising your home

– filling in your basement

– installing a living shoreline

Some argue it’s a tax break for wealthy oceanfront homeowners.

Lewis said it is not, “We have folks who are experiencing flooding who live in homes, middle income homes, sometimes lower income homes … so, we’re trying to give everybody an opportunity to encourage and make it more affordable for them to take some of these measures.”

The other amendment deals with a tax exemption for the surviving spouses of disabled veterans. To read more about that amendment, click here

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