Springfield To the Editor:
On November 8, Fairfax County residents will have an opportunity to vote on a meals tax that may add nearly $100 million into our county budget. This issue has come up before and it didn’t pass. This time, it’s critical that we vote yes because it is doubtful that we’ll have another opportunity to diversify our tax revenue stream again.
Beautiful parks, resource-packed libraries, and other services are part of why I moved back here when I had children. But by far the biggest reason was that I wanted them to get the great (if not better) education that I did when I went to school here.
But let’s just take a step back — certainly, not everyone feels the way I do about schools. Many people hate, even detest the idea of additional taxes — even if a significant portion of those taxes will be paid by other people. With 28 percent of the added revenue coming from commuters and tourists, I would think that help adding to our budget would be a welcome solution. Voting no on the meals tax is a no vote to Fairfax getting funds from anywhere but the state and property taxes. I don’t know about you, but if someone else’s lunch tab, or just four pennies on the dollar can lessen the blow to my October tax bill and help our schools, why would I say no to that?
The School Board has made it clear that the increased school budget will go towards giving our teachers a much-needed raise. These raises will keep more great teachers from going just a few miles to Arlington or
Alexandria, where they can earn as much as an additional $10K per year.
Some restaurants (many of which I used to patronize frequently) claim that this tax will hurt their business and employees. Really? If that was the case, why open “any” restaurant in a county with an existing meals tax? If it was that damaging to businesses, you’d think that those jurisdictions (nearly all in Northern Virginia) would have significantly fewer dining options — just to avoid the meals tax.
People that go out to eat simply don’t base their decisions on a local meals tax. It’s about the quality of food, service, location, and now, at least in my case, how they support the community.
Less than stellar schools lead to dropping property values. As school Superintendent Karen Garza said, “We can’t cut our way to excellence.”
Pennies invested now will help preserve a great education system, as well as the safety, resources, enrichment, and support that are found in our schools and county services. But we can’t begin to invest those
pennies unless you vote yes to the meals tax. Learn more at yesmealstax.org
Esther Rege Berg