[13 April 2020 mass e-mail to county citizens by Prince William Citizens for Balanced Growth, PWCBG]
Under pressure, Chair Wheeler backs off the 4% real estate tax increase — In her message this morning to county residents, Prince William Board of County Supervisors Chair Wheeler, under intense public pressure, backs off from her late-Feb-March 4% real estate tax increase, but then immediately proposes an 8% increase on businesses in the next paragraph.
But how about new 8% business and other tax increases? — Here’s the rest of what Chair Wheeler said this morning: “We cannot ignore the extreme financial impact of the pandemic on the county finances and the increased need we will see for Human Services. This is why I am recommending increasing the programmable computer equipment and peripherals tax rate from $1.25 per $100 to $1.35 (applies to trades, businesses and data centers). I am also recommending increasing personal property license fees from $24 to $33 for vehicles and from $12 to $20 for motorcycles.” (See below for more detail.)
Loving the wrong things overmuch — Unfortunately, Chair Wheeler misses the broader implications of her too-much love for government and too-little love for private business. She continues to fail to comprehend how burdening any businesses — particularly small- and medium-sized businesses in a moment of extreme peril for them, and thus for the entire county as well — threatens even what she clearly loves most. (See, for example, the following, including what you can do 14-16 April: https://pwcbg.org/2020/04/bocs-majoritys-incompetence-vindictiveness-false-pride-devlined-west-county-tax-increases-despite-growing-business-jobs-meltdown/ and https://pwcbg.org/2020/04/what-you-can-do-11-thru-14-apr-re-bocs-dem-majoritys-callousness-in-proposing-tax-increases-amid-employer-jobs-meltdown/ Note that this article can be found at: https://pwcbg.org/2020/04/alert-chair-wheelers-phony-reversal-under-pressure-on-real-estate-tax-replacing-it-with-even-higher-taxes/ )
Killing the golden goose — It’s your county, our county, and we’ll all have to live with the consequences if the 5-Dem majority further weakens or hollows out the already-very-small and fragile commercial part of the county tax base (traditionally only ~15%, with the other ~85% paid by homeowners.) And if a large number of businesses and taxpayers fail or leave (including capital flight and human capital flight), then how will the Board of County Supervisors (BOCS) majority fund their ever-increasing government programs from an ever-shrinking tax base?
Even Marxists and socialists — in every part of the world except North and South America, it seems — understand that if you kill the goose that lays the golden eggs (businesses and prosperous households, the generators of wealth, unlike government which typically only consumes wealth), there will be nothing left to fund government programs. Raising taxes, rather than cutting them, on businesses at a time when they face grave danger is unconscionable, perverse, and self-defeating for everyone. So be good to businesses and households, the foundation of your government largesse, or you’ll have little wealth left to redistribute.
Now for a question and quest/challenge directly to the BOCS’ 5-Dem majority, but first some background. For many years I ran the budgets and resource planning of government programs worth hundreds of millions of dollars. I never saw a program anywhere that didn’t waste some money, and even some programs the world could’ve lived without. It was always a question of ranking priorities, and then cutting off the bottom priorities when the budget money ran out. Everyone else in the world must live within their means, within tight budgets: individuals, families, businesses, churches, NGOs, large corporations. Why should county government be exempt, especially when almost everyone outside government is suffering right now?
Prove it — So here’s my challenge: Whenever someone anywhere utters the words “spending cuts” in reference to local government, local officials anywhere and everywhere cynically trot out a few cherry-picked, supposedly untouchable programs. Then, completely illogically, every local program becomes a sacred cow. The BOCS Democratic majority implies that all the programs in the county budget help people in a cost-effective way. Prove it. Where are the data that clearly and unequivocally show that? Furthermore, is there any empire building that primarily benefits politicians and their cronies? (If the BOCS or county officials say “no,” no one should believe them.) Though this may be more likely with the federal and state government, are there any programs that foster soul-destroying long-term dependency and weakness? Temporary help and assistance for means-tested, at-risk groups to get them back on their feet (and then “teach a man to fish”…) is one thing; empire building and/or Tammany Hall-like fostering of dependency to keep some people down and dependent as long as possible is something very different, something pathological and perverse indeed.
The only worthy purposes of government — The end product of good government is the greatest good for the greatest number and the protection of minority rights. There are no other purposes of government that I know of that produce anything other than mischief, wasted resources, corruption, human misery, and endless internecine tribal/factional struggles against “the others.”
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.
Issue 8 Monday, April 13, 2020
Prince William County Dear Neighbors,
This is an important time for the county. In addition to being in the midst of a global pandemic creating new economic realities and uncertainties, we must comply with a state mandated deadline to adopt our fiscal year 2021 budget. I have devoted the first segment in this issue to ensuring you are well informed.
During our last Board meeting on March 31, our Chief Executive Officer, Chris Martino, shared stark news of the multi-million dollar shortfall the county will now face. Our county staff has worked tirelessly to make adjustments to get through this year and next. I am incredibly thankful for their efforts.
I want to provide what sense of stability I can for the people of Prince William County during this difficult time. Therefore, I cannot support the real property tax increase that the current proposed budget, even with adjustments, is constructed on. I directed Mr. Martino to prepare a budget keeping the real property tax at its current rate of $1.125 per $100 and present it on Tuesday afternoon for the Board to review. This will mean reductions in many areas and will also impact the funding of our school system.
However, we cannot ignore the extreme financial impact of the pandemic on the county finances and the increased need we will see for Human Services. This is why I am recommending increasing the programmable computer equipment and peripherals tax rate from $1.25 per $100 to $1.35 (applies to trades, businesses and data centers). I am also recommending increasing personal property license fees from $24 to $33 for vehicles and from $12 to $20 for motorcycles.
While my featured article contains quite a bit of detailed information about this week’s meetings, there is other news to share with you. I encourage you to please read the rest of this issue to be up to date on additional important items.
In Service, Chair Ann Wheeler