Should coastal residents who stay put in face of flooding get tax breaks to fortify their property? Ballot question sparks debate

A constitutional amendment on the ballot Tuesday would give localities the option to offer tax breaks to property owners in areas facing recurring flooding.

An environmental group in coastal Virginia is urging voters to oppose a constitutional amendment intended to offer tax relief to property owners facing recurring flooding, prompting a debate that echoes larger concerns about how states and localities should respond to sea-level rise.

On ballots statewide Tuesday, the measure would give local governments the authority to provide partial real estate tax exemptions to people who make flooding resiliency improvements like raising buildings or fortifying shorelines.

“It is fundamentally unwise for any incentives to be given for building or rebuilding on land with recurrent flooding, especially in a tidal region where relative sea levels are expected to continue rising,” said the president of the 200-member Northumberland Association for Progressive Stewardship, Mike Ahart, in an email.

“It would be much wiser to expand incentives not to build or rebuild on this land.”

The issue has drawn limited statewide attention and large environmental groups like the Virginia League of Conservation Voters and the Sierra Club haven’t taken a position. Read full article.