Angry Cape Charles citizens stormed the Bastille, we mean, the Northampton Board of Supervisors Work Session to protest the high taxes they will be paying for their delicate and charming bourgeoisie homes. Unfortunately, the Board of Supervisors is actually lowering the tax rate, and they have nothing to do with assessments of property, which are based on ‘fair market value’. Property values in town have gone up close to 55% since the last assessment. So there’s that.
What these citizens seem to not understand is that they have done this to themselves. This is exactly what happens when you gentrify a neighborhood or town, not just in Cape Charles, but anywhere in the country. Richmond and Washington DC have seen this happen. As rich white people move in, renovate, and ‘improve’ the property, the value increases, and with it, all things will rise to meet the tide, including tax assessments. As the Chris Rock joke goes, if you are working class, or a person of color, and come home to find a wealthy white couple moving in next door, well, ‘There goes the neighborhood’.
In Cape Charles, rich white people, mostly from the north, moved in and fundamentally changed the character of the town. These changes have moved the working class out as it became much too expensive for them to live. These shiny and marginally superficial changes increased the property values and the County’s tax assessments.
Cape Charles has also opted to become a tourist destination. When you enter the mode of being a resort, property values, and assessments go up. People were so excited when articles about the town appeared in Coastal Living and other metropolitan news outlets. They were downright giddy to see Cape Charles featured on silly HGTV Beachfront Bargain Hunt shows, which air nationally. Finally, they said, Cape Charles is on the map…it’s on the map alright. Here’s the dirty little secret. Despite all the liberal blathering about the dangers of climate change and sea-level rise, the liberal rich elite wants to live in Coastal areas. Cape Charles was primed to be exploited by these people.
The new Cape Charles residents have finally gotten what they asked for. The working class is moved out, and tourists and Airbnb are in. Now it’s time to pay the piper.
It is only going to get worse for these people. Their town government is about to build a brand new set of town offices. This multi-million dollar folly will only accomplish one thing for sure. It will increase property values, and assessments even more.
It will still get worse. If the town decides to sell off water/wastewater utilities to VAW (another interesting notion coming from the elite 1%), rates will probably rise, and rise quite a bit. Can you say a 40% increase?
Nobody in the hinterlands feels any sort of empathy for these people. They did what they did, now they get to enjoy the consequences of their labor. They can complain and whine all they want, but neither the town nor county governments care. With no industry to speak of, they need the money–these new people are money cows to them, and they will squeeze that teat until it’s dry. Besides, despite all the mewling, the town and county know they can absorb the financial pain.
If they can’t they will move to FLA and someone who can handle the cost will take their place. The circle of life continues.
So it goes.