Well, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors did it again. More taxing and spending.
Board Chairman Sharon Bulova in her Bulova Byline FY 2015 budget summary states “It has been a long and winding road as our nation, region and county have struggled throughout these sluggish post recession years.” So what does the Board do to ease the financial pain of struggling taxpayers?
The Board, consisting of Chairman Bulova (D), John Cook (R), John Foust (D), Mike Frey (R), Penny Gross (D), Pat Herrity (R),Gerry Hyland (D), Cathy Hudgins (D), Jeff McKay (D), and Linda Smyth (D), voted 7 to 3 (Herrity, Cook and Smyth) to increase the real estate tax rate to $1.09 per $100 of assessed value, increasing taxes on the average homeowner by $25. That is in addition to the $330 increase in real estate taxes on the average homeowner because the assessments increased in 2014. But, that wasn’t enough. The Board by a 7 to 3 vote (Herrity, Cook, Smyth) also raised seven fees including the sewer tax and the sick tax for ambulance service ranging from $100 to $150 per trip depending on the transport type. Also, a transport fee increased from $10 to $12 per mile. And they passed a motion to form a committee to come up with recommendations for a meals tax referendum. The last time I checked the County had over 100 taxes and fees. It looks like there is no let up.
While taxes and fees are raised, the Board is not too careful about spending. Some examples: The Board passed on a 9 to 1 (Herrity) vote a $30 million bank bailout to pay off an unsecured loan belonging to Lorton Arts Foundation, taxpayer subsidized housing includes units in a plush neighborhood where housing units sell from $850 to over $1 million with a resort style swimming pool, executive business center with computer printers and internet access, billiard room, heated spa, clubroom with big screen TV and 24 hour athletic center. And, in November 2013 the Board paid out over $10 million for bonuses to employees regardless of whether the employee excelled or not. And, if that isn’t enough, the Fairfax County Public School System spends $39 million or more on English as a second language for undocumented (illegal) aliens. It isn’t clear how many years English as a second language is taught before the students have learned English to complete their education. The goal should be to have such students become part of the student body speaking English as soon as possible. That is good for the school system and particularly for the affected students who will proceed to further their education or pursue a career of some sort. Graduation and dropout rates are significant issues because the affected students involved haven’t received an education.
School transfer funds is a significant part of the Fairfax County FY 2015 budget, about $2 billion or 52.1 percent of the proposed FY 2015 county budget expenditures, according to the County Executive. Although the Board of Supervisors (BOS) doesn’t have direct authority over the Fairfax County Public School System policies and personnel, the BOS should exercise influence on the School Board to make improvements and not provide money blindly. The students deserve better.
There are many more examples of questionable spending that I have provided to the BOS but, except for a generalized email response from Chairman Bulova, no one else has responded.
Contact your Supervisor and make a difference. Call the Clerk of the Board at 703-324-3151 for supervisors’ phone numbers.
Frank Medico, Mount Vernon