[Mass e-mail to county citizens by Prince William Citizens for Balanced Growth]

Fellow county voters, taxpayers, homeowners:

Since taking office in Jan 2020, Board of County Supervisors (BOCS) Chair Ann Wheeler is off to a decidedly undemocratic start by:  

  • Officially attempting to restrict citizens’ First Amendment rights at BOCS meetings in March;
  • Planning to raise on 28 April, rather than reduce, government spending and private employer & homeowner taxes during a severe economic recession that threatens to bankrupt tens of thousands of county residents and businesses; and
  • Forcing the big Devlin Rd. residential development project upon West County citizens on 10 and 31 March, ignoring virtually unanimous local opposition, including over 1,000 petitioners, while also ignoring BOCS rules and procedures and unresolved flooding, eminent domain, phasing, and housing density problems. 

(For info on what you can do to oppose Chair Wheeler’s attempt to raise taxes on 28 April, see:  https://www.facebook.com/144935038911635/posts/3723679831037120/?sfnsn=mo …  You’ll need to sign up before 5 pm 27 April.   Also, see Coles Supervisor Yesli Vega’s message below and this message posted at:  https://pwcbg.org/2020/04/action-taxes-1st-amendment-devlin-rd-and-bocs-chairs-hamster-wheel-of-government/ )  

An already clear, well-established pattern — In attempting to deflect near-universal criticism of her gambit to restrict First Amendment rights at BOCS meetings, Chair Wheeler denied involvement — a lie that convinced no one, since calling, controlling the agenda for, and leading BOCS meetings is solely the BOCS chair’s responsibility.

At the 10 March hearing on Devlin and thereafter, Chair Wheeler, followed by other members of the BOCS Democratic majority, blamed the pre-2020 BOCS for her own regime’s abusive decision on Devlin.  This was yet another lie followed by an attempt to avoid responsibility for her own bad decisions and unethical behavior.  But she who thinks nothing of trashing another’s neighborhood, leaving behind a mess for others to clean up, would clearly think nothing of then lying about it to try to avoid responsibility.

Leading up to and during the 21 April BOCS budget markup, Chair Wheeler repeatedly attempted to avoid responsibility and divert attention from her tax increases on businesses and ordinary citizens who are already in jeopardy from the ever-deepening recession.  She also repeatedly attempted to deflect efforts to cut spending anywhere.  (See county government’s video archive of 21 Apr BOCS meeting at https://pwcgov.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=23&clip_id=2706, from about 2 hrs 30 minutes to the end.)

On multiple occasions over the last two months, Wheeler and other BOCS Dems implied they could not have known the seriousness of the coronavirus pandemic and its effect when they approved the county’s 1.17% advertised real estate rate (at least a 4% overall increase, depending on property value increases) and that they all along intended to lower the tax rate to 1.145 or 1.125.  Besides ignoring that a politician’s alleged and unexpressed state of mind and intent never trumps his written record, the problem with that argument is that Chair Wheeler and other members of the BOCS Dem majority were sending messages to county citizens and beyond throughout March and April taking credit for how up-to-date they were on the pandemic and how much the county government was supposedly doing to alleviate the effects of the pandemic.  But they can’t have it both ways.  Per their own claims, they were very sensitive to the health aspects of the pandemic — regarding which they have little or no expertise or ability to do anything — but completely missed, didn’t understand (economic incompetence), didn’t care about (economic neglect), or ignored the economic effects on county employers, employees, and homeowners of their decision to raise taxes during the economic collapse (economic abuse.) Anyway, a smaller tax increase is still highly inappropriate and should not even be considered at this time.

Furthermore, during the 21 Apr markup, Chair Wheeler chose to focus her frustrations at badly mishandling the tax issue, and being thwarted on raising taxes even more, by claiming that Republicans, particularly Supervisor Lawson, were working to “inflame” their constituents by earlier reporting to constituents how much the proposed tax increases were going to cost them, especially at this perilous economic time when the BOCS should be reducing taxes.  So, according to Chair Wheeler, by doing part of their core jobs, reporting tax issues to constituents, Supervisors Lawson and Vega were supposedly inflaming them, while Chair Wheeler, by not doing her job, is, once again, blameless.  (Chair Wheeler should consider the reality that she is the one inflaming much of the county with her hubris and flippant disregard for anyone but those who think just like she does.)

So just four months into her term of office, Chair Wheeler has established a clear, well-established pattern of lying and avoidance of responsibility.  Apparently for Chair Wheeler, the buck stops nowhere … or at least anywhere but with her.

The evil twin — Corey Stewart, our least favorite BOCS chair before Chair Wheeler, raised taxes over 35% in 12 years, while home values declined, in order to fund the mostly tax-negative residential development of which he became so fond.  Taxes increased dramatically while services to ordinary citizens declined dramatically — as evidenced by increasingly overcrowded roads and schools, increasing environmental damage, and little or no improvement in the very small commercial tax base.  Chair Wheeler apparently wants to become Stewart’s evil twin by not only approving as much tax-negative residential development as possible, but also by mindlessly expanding county government — because the hive, the collective, the government, not the individual worker bee, is what matters, what lasts, at least in the fevered minds of big-government ideologues.

The “fabric of our community” — Chair Wheeler remains cloaked in unfounded confidence, supported by no evidence whatsoever, in what she has repeatedly called “the fabric of our community,” the part of the county government that is run by the BOCS.  No wonder she cares so much about the government and continuing to feed that beast, while caring so little about what happens to businesses small and large, families, and other private groups that are the real fabric of our county.  Collectivism requires sacrifice by and of people and smaller groups, the worker bees, for the good of the government and the ruling party, the hive, which is what really matters … not the other way around.

The wheel — When we see Chair Wheeler frenetically sending scores of messages and press releases about what the county is doing about Covid-19, about which it can do very very little, including one message to the Vice President of the United States … while abusing ordinary citizens on 1st Amendment, tax, and land use issues, we’re reminded of something else:  A hamster on a wheel.  The similarities are striking.  The cage, the county is littered with Wheeler press releases and other stuffing and trash, which covers up the really nasty stuff that falls on top of the ordinary citizens, taxpayers, homeowners, private employers and employees at the very bottom of her cage.

Chair Hamster-Wheeler


Ralph Stephenson
Prince William Citizens for Balanced Growth

Only in the bright light of public scrutiny can the common good be secured,
while in darkness and obscurity the interests of the powerful and affluent prevail.

———- Forwarded message ———
From: Yesli Vega <yesli.vega@yestoyesli.com>
Date: Thu, Apr 23, 2020, 2:05 PM
Subject: 25,000 Lost Jobs & A $177 Tax Increase
To: Ralph <stephenrkg@gmail.com>

Now Is NOT The Time To Be Taking Even More Money From our Citizens

At a time when nearly 25,000 of our citizens have lost their jobs (a number that will increase this week) the Democrat majority on the Prince William Board of County Supervisors is poised to raise the average residential property tax bill $177 (in addition to increasing vehicle fees).

If you’ve paid attention to this year’s budget process my colleagues in the majority have argued repeatedly that we must increase your taxes because they don’t have enough of your money to spend.

These two graphs speak for themselves:

The blue axis shows how your home values have decreased since FY2008 (the reason I chose FY2008 is because it’s still the closest our homes have gotten to pre-recession values). Even so, the average home value is still almost $27,000 less  than it was 13 years ago – assessed pre-COVID.

It would be fair to assume that as a result your tax bill would also be less.


The red axis is how much your bill will have increased over that time. If the current proposal passes (the vote is scheduled for April 28th) the average residential tax bill will increase by an additional $177 on average meaning your average yearly bill has increased by over $1,200 – or 35% – while your home value has gone down 6.5%.

Home values down. Taxes up. Way up. And going higher.

The second graph shows how county spending has increased over the last decade compared to population growth.

Assuming the Board majority forces through their current budget next week county spending will have increased by almost $500 million over the last 10 yearsa 56% increase.

Meanwhile, our population has only increased by 16% in that same period.
When the size of the government bureaucracy grows 3.5x population growth it becomes pretty clear why your taxes have increased so much.

Yet the Board majority thinks this is perfectly reasonable. In fact, they think you should be grateful that they’re only increasing your taxes by $177 – indeed, their initial proposal raised your taxes by twice the amount.

I hope the cake is good at least.

I think it is downright immoral to forcefully take more money out of your pocket than last year in a time of such economic turmoil.

You ALREADY pay the second highest residential tax rate of any county in the entire Commonwealth of Virginia.

And the worst part is, this tax increase will be felt as equally by the single mom having increased rent payments passed down by her landlord and lower income homeowners as the wealthiest citizen in our county.

No matter where you fall on the spectrum, you have my word that I will NOT vote to take even more money out of your pocket next week.

I believe you’re taxed enough already.

For Coles,

Yesli Vega Coles District Supervisor 

Follow Yesli on Twitter and Facebook @yestoyesli.

Paid for and Authorized by Friends of Yesli Vega

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