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Remote work remains popular in Virginia, so what does that mean for localities?

Signage states an office complex is for sale or lease.
Rogelio V. Solis
Signage states an office complex is for sale or lease.

A significant number of workers in Virginia are still working from home. And, that’s creating challenges and opportunities for local governments.

40% percent of days are worked from home in Virginia, according to Census data compiled by the Pew Charitable Trusts. That’s a trend that does not seem to be letting up anytime soon, and it'll likely have long-lasting consequences for local governments.


Stephanie Stern at the University of Arizona College of Law says cities and counties will need to rethink their focus on transit.

"Now with this rapid acceleration to remote work I think there's going to be a shift in policymaking and in other areas to thinking about how we accommodate work from home or untransit," Stern says.

As transit yields to what she calls “untransit,” commercial property tax values are plummeting. Lucy Dadayan at the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center says that means local governments are seeing a hit to revenue they used to get from office spaces and the workers that used to be in them.

"They don't really go buy their lunch or spend on transportation, etc," Dadayan explains. "And all of that adds up and translates into a fiscal burden for local governments."

She also points out that while the value of commercial real estate is down, the value of residential real estate has skyrocketed during the pandemic. So, local governments are raking in new revenues based on residential property taxes.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.

Michael Pope is an author and journalist who lives in Old Town Alexandria.