by Rose Murphy, Bull Run Observer

14 January 2011, p. 10

“Haymarket Town council member Robert B. ‘Bob’ Weir is all about open government and what he calls ‘fiscal conservatism.’

“Standing in front of the Prince William Board of County Supervisors [BOCS] last month, Weir told the board members as well as everyone else present that he is now a candidate for board chairman-at-large.

“A perceived lack of transparency by the supervisors, influence by special interest groups, inconsistent fiscal policies and the management of the county are some of the things which Weir indicated led him to decide to run for board chairman in this year’s election.

“Weir said he’s watched the board for the last seven years and that ‘the last two years have provided numerous examples of BOCS action wherein it appears the tail is wagging the dog.’ As an example, he asserted how the county’s comprehensive plan has been reviewed and amended.

” ‘Thousands of man hours on the part of county staff, citizens and stakeholders resulted in several drafts of each chapter of the comprehensive plan, each with some measure of compromise from the parties that created them. In each instance, subsequent to the public hearing, they were subject to 11th-hour amendments drafted by such entities as VRE or the chamber of commerce, amendments that were considered and enacted by the BOCS without public input and in the case of Mr. (John) Jenkins’ transportation amendments, without disclosure,’ Weir noted in a press release.

“Weir also questioned a recent sale of public land at Innovation and a memorandum of understanding on land proffered at the Avendale tract.

” ‘Neither was publicly vetted prior to the meeting, and in the case of the Innovation property, substantive details were withheld until moments before the public hearing, ostensibly in violation of the various FOIA and Sunshine statues,” he charged.

“The councilman contended that, in budget matters in recent years, the board has spent lots of time ‘trimming the margins and engaging in the politics of deflection.’

“He asserted cuts to senior day care, senior transportation services and library hours were designed to cause public outcry and obscure other budget items.

“Weir said that in recent nonelection years, the capital improvement plan (CIP) has been pared and projects deferred because the county was near the debt limit needed to save its AAA bond rating.

” ‘Curiously, despite current economic conditions, a forecast of significantly lower commercial property values and the potential for further funding cuts and deleterious legislation from Richmond, in this year’s budget guidance, the BOCS has instructed staff to include funding for popular projects such as road building and two libraries.’  Weir contended that policy direction is fiscally unsound and ‘smacks of electioneering.’

“Weir said the actual basis for the county’s AAA bonding rating is that general obligation bonds are based on the county’s authority to levy and collect taxes.

” ‘The rating could be maintained ad infinitum through the adjustment (raising) of the tax rates to maintain the acceptable ratio of debt to revenue. Let me underscore that it is based on the authority to levy and collect taxes, not whether or not the county’s spending and taxation policies are sound, popular or responsible,’ he said.

“The candidate reported that during his years on town council, he established ‘a record of transparency and fiscal conservatism. Although sometimes unpopular with other members of the town council, it is designed to protect the long-term interests of the town and its residents. It is that record, experience and knowledge that I bring to the table,’ Weir concluded.”