To the Editor:
In the June 2 edition of the Gazette, a letter entitled “Seniors Unfairly Tapped for School Budget” argued that senior citizens in Fairfax County should be given a tax rebate funded by a surtax on school-age families because those seniors “have not had children in the school system for years and years.” Perhaps the letter writer is onto something; I will not be eligible to take advantage of Social Security or Medicare for “years and years,” so it seems only fair that I receive a tax rebate for the nearly 50 percent of my tax dollars that go to fund Social Security and Medicare. Seniors who actually use these programs can simply make up the difference by paying higher taxes.
But, of course, that’s a terrible idea. I benefit from the existence of Social Security and Medicare because it keeps the seniors in my community healthy, living in their homes, and out of poverty, thereby making my community a better place to live — and also because I will one day benefit from those programs.
In the same way, seniors in our community benefit from the lower crime rate, higher income level, and greatly increased property values that they enjoy as a direct result of living in the world-class Fairfax County public school system. They also continue to benefit from the excellent public school education that their now-adult children received, and that was paid for by the taxes of their own elders “years and years” ago.
I do agree with the letter writer on one point: it is a shame that residents’ property taxes are used as the primary source of funds for our public school system. That’s why it is in every Fairfax County resident’s best interest to support the Meals Tax proposal, which will simply add the same few pennies to restaurant tabs in Fairfax County that we all pay when we dine out in any other local jurisdiction. If the letter writer wishes to contain the property tax burden of public schools, he should support the Meals Tax.