“12.43 percent.” Are they Mad?
Fauquier County’s government wants to raise our property taxes by 12.43 percent or so they said in an announcement in Friday’s paper. They can’t be serious. But they are. Should we start the recall petition now or just grab our pitchforks and surround the county office building, taking a lesson from our brothers and sisters in the Ukraine?
You will hear that they have no choice. That Virginia’s General Assembly is making them do this. But they did have a choice and they made it 4 years ago.
At that time, the school system submitted a budget that included payments to the Virginia Retirement System (VRS) and it was approved by the Board of Supervisors. Later that year, the General Assembly decided to postpone payments to the VRS for 18 months. This was a roundabout way of borrowing some money to balance the budget that year.
We all knew that we would have to pay back that money sometime and that time is now. At the time, many of us, including several members of the Board of Supervisors strongly recommended that we put that money in the bank so we would have it when we needed it but Dr. Lewis and the school system decided to spend it.
This became the new normal level of spending and all future school budgets were biased on including that “loan.” At the time Dr. Lewis assured us that when the time came, he would find the money to repay the VRS money but since he has quit and left town, I can only assume his plan was to find the money in your pocket.
But the VRS repayments are not the entire reason why the county wants a 12.43 percent increase in your property taxes. They only represent about a quarter of the proposed increase. Why do they need the money?
Make no mistake, a 12.43 percent increase will hurt a lot of families and businesses. You do not need to own a very expensive house to see your property taxes go up by $500, $600 or $750 a year. You do not need to have a very large business to see your taxes go up by $10,000, $20,000 or more a year. Every Year. Forever.
Some may argue that taxes are too low in Fauquier and since we are the 8th richest county in the country we can afford to pay more. That is a debate for another day. A 12.43 percent increase in one year in a weak economy is just plain wrong. They must be stopped.
Bob Zwick The Plains, VA