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Tuesday, December 6, 2022
FairfaxOpinionCommentary: Fairfax residents can't take more big tax increases

Commentary: Fairfax residents can’t take more big tax increases

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by ARTHUR PURVES, President, Fairfax County Taxpayers Alliance

If you live in Fairfax County and are over 50, you may have received from the county government a five-page, 120-question survey to “inform the county’s . . . Future Aging Plan.”

Here’s the Fairfax County Taxpayers Alliance Future Aging Plan: Stop taxing us out of our homes.

For 20 years, county supervisors have been raising real-estate taxes three times faster than household income. These taxes are the supervisors’ “Unaffordable Housing Program.” The supervisors do have an “Affordable Housing Program,” but with a waiting list so long that they’re afraid to disclose it. Their Unaffordable Housing Program, however, has no waiting list: Homeowners get a tax hike ever year.

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Assessments this year increased almost 10 percent. Everyone thinks that because assessments increased, real-estate taxes have to increase. This is false. The supervisors can prevent a tax hike by lowering the tax rate 10 cents. However, if they keep the rate unchanged, they get an extra $250 million. That’s a quarter of billion dollars.

The supervisors want that money to give 37,000 county and school employees 6-percent and 7-percent raises, because of “recruitment and retention issues.” But for the past two decades, the average raises for all county and school employees have been higher than inflation. Most employees would probably lose pay and benefits if they went to the private sector.

Except for police, the supervisors have provided no data about retention. What’s the impact of mask and vaccine mandates? Administrivia? Or, in the schools, student behavior? What’s the impact of the anti-police rhetoric?
What do our taxes buy us? To wit:

• A county administration that cannot attract business: commercial-real-estate-tax revenues are stagnant.

•A school system that, because of its flawed reading and arithmetic curriculum, provides no upward mobility for low-income children and mediocre achievement for others.

• A school system that uses history to attack the Constitution. As Gov. Youngkin has repeatedly said, we need to teach honest history. But the goal of critical-race theory is to dissolve the Senate, end the electoral college and become a pure democracy. Pure democracy leads to tyranny.

Vladimir Putin was elected president by a 71-percent majority. Hitler and Mussolini’s parties won popular elections. Is that what we want from our taxes?

To prevent a tax increase, the supervisors can lower the real-estate rate by 10 cents. We predict they’ll lower it by only 5 cents.

The supervisors have provided no evidence to back up their claim that recruitment and retention justify a quarter of a billion dollars of raises. Until they do, the Taxpayers Alliance recommends that the supervisors lower the tax rate 10 cents.

Also, union contributions to supervisor political campaigns are a conflict of interest, as unions then sit on both sides of the bargaining table. We therefore recommend an end to union contributions to supervisor political campaigns.

Purves is longtime president of the Fairfax County Taxpayers Alliance.

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