To the Editor:
A supervisor candidate campaign article “Seeking to Steer Fairfax County” published in the Mt. Vernon Gazette on Sept. 3-9, 2015 issue, describes what the Board of Supervisors (BOS) do in carrying out their responsibilities such as taxing and setting priorities for services to the public. The article also mentions that the BOS is responsible for a $7 billion budget, raised property taxes an average of $185 and approved a $20,000 pay raise for themselves and the tax formula for distributing tax dollars to other Virginia localities is unfair because we send tax dollars to Richmond and get little back. Such tax formula has existed for years and the tax strain on Fairfax County taxpayers is growing.
However, the questions submitted to the current BOS chairman and other candidates for the Mt. Vernon District supervisor dealt with what impact supervisors may have on newcomers to Fairfax County No questions were asked about the problems mentioned in the article or long-standing problems such a traffic gridlock, stagnant economy, and wasteful spending to name a few. In 2013 the BOS gave a $10.8 million bonus to employees whose average salary was $68,000 annually whether they earned it or not, bailed out a bank to the tune of $30 million for an unsecured loan to an Arts Foundation, has subsidized housing in plush communities where unit sell for $1 million. Is that a good practice when there are scarce tax dollars?
Further, the BOS has a long-standing practice of paying substantially more for property it buys that the assessed value. If the assessment is correct, the BOS paid too much. If the purchase price is correct, the county has under collected real estate taxes. In either case, the taxpayers are the losers.
If that wasn’t enough, the BOS voted itself, in 2015, a $20,000 pay raise making the current pay $95,000 for supervisors and $100,000 for the chairman. Prior to the raise the BOS was making more than the supervisors for the four top surrounding counties, Arlington, Prince William, Loudoun, and Henrico according to a 2014 pay study by the Virginia Association of Counties.
Such extravagant and wild spending practices must stop. To help do that, the county needs to have an independent evaluation of all major functions, programs and services to find out if they are still essential and, if so, are their objectives being met in the most efficient, effective and economical way. In February 1015, I requested the current BOS chairman and other supervisors for a list of the major functions, programs and services that had been evaluated since 2006 to the present but I received no response to my specific request. That raises serious question about the kind of data used by the BOS in making its decisions on taxing and spending.
To help in quelling current tax policies, I urge all supervisor candidates sign a no tax pledge until the newly elected BOS can certify to the county residents and taxpayers that all major functions, programs and services are meeting their objectives in the most effective, efficient and economical way. The taxpayers deserve no less. After all, they pay the bills.