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A Love-Hate Relationship

We want the best. Are we willing to pay for it?

The recent announcement of a possible property tax increase at the February 14 Board of County Supervisors meeting wasn’t exactly embraced by the community. Immediately, complaints about higher taxes began to be voiced by the majority of residents in Prince William County, yet those complaints were heard while the chambers were filled with teachers protesting they are underpaid for the number of hours they work.

The work of the county budget process is a mystery to most people. We generally follow the idea that a tax increase is bad, lower taxes are good, and ne’er the twain shall meet.

That kind of logic has been a source of misery for the state, too. Virginia gas tax is ten cents lower than the national average and hasn’t changed since the 1980s. We complain about the condition of the roads and the traffic, but we also believe gas prices are already too high.

We think all our taxes are too high, and while I agree it is a pity we work for the first four months of the year just to pay our taxes, Virginia is not so bad compared to the rest of the United States. Virginia taxes have actually declined  by .07 percent since 1977. That’s right, adjusted for inflation, we pay less tax in Virginia than we did 35 years ago!

There are a lot of other facts about where Virginia ranks tax-wise on that page, and while it may not make you feel better about your tax burden, at least take comfort we are about the middle of the pack. Somehow that makes me feel better that I don’t live in Hawaii. Beautiful state and ideal climate, but I would pay a lot more taxes on my $400,000.00 salary!

One fact I want to note for Patch readers: The proposed property tax increase will result in an average $111.00 per year. That’s less than one dollar a day for 34 new county employees, twelve of whom will be police officers and two arson investigators. It also includes assistance to some non-profits, and county partners like the Americans in Wartime Museum and it also includes funding for a satellite office of Economic Development in the Eastern District.

I know a lot of people are opposed to contributions to the museum. Since we were told the museum would not cost the taxpayers money, but would be an asset, I expect some sort of repayment once the museum is operable would be part of the plan. It’s also possible the museum will be required to contract an MOU (memorandum of understanding) with the county like we require all our other partner non-profits.

You can find more about the county budget on the county government website.

Connie Moser February 19, 2012 at 02:32 PM
It's hard to put a price on quality of life issues, isn't it? I don't think the government belongs in the business of health care, either, but to see the obvious needs of handicapped, desperately ill, even homeless all require our assistance. We want our churches and charitable organizations and families to care for their own, but not everyone has a church, a charitable organization or a family to do so. Is art a necessity to be funded by the government? I don't know. Are parks and museums to be funded by the government? I don't know? What I do know is that we need all those things and until we can be certain all those things can be funded privately, we depend on the government to allot our money.
Al Alborn February 19, 2012 at 02:58 PM
Connie, I disagree with your basic premise, "...we depend on the government to allot our money." That follows the assumption that the Government owns all of the wealth of the nation and we get to keep what they don't need. I think not... Public Safety (cops, firefighters, EMTs) and social services (as in helping the least among us who really need assistance, not checks for everyone who wants one) are any Government's highest priority. Everything else (Hylton Arts Center, Baseball Stadium, the American War Museum, et.al.) should be left to the free market. If enough people don't "sign up" to support private entities (or "vote with their pocket books" that they should exist), they should "go away". I am particularly surprised that a supposedly majority Conservative Republican BOCS doesn't "get" free market principles. Picking "winners and losers" with "our money" is not a legitimate role for Government at any level. Want lower taxes? Encourage Government to not "give away" so much of "our money" to things that have nothing to do with its legitimate role in our lives. I can write my own checks to vote for the things in which I believe.
Connie Moser February 19, 2012 at 03:06 PM
Thanks for your comments, Al. We know each other well enough to predict the continuing trend of this conversation. I respect your opinion and your right to express it, even if I don't always agree. (Of course, sometimes I surprise you with agreement you don't expect :-)
Al Alborn February 19, 2012 at 04:20 PM
Connie, People of good will disagree over the Government's size and its role in our lives. I obviously I believe small is better; however, all I hope for is compromise somewhere in the middle. Discussions such as this are how we get there.
bill cummings February 22, 2012 at 10:53 AM
Ms.Moser,the WTM has to pay its own way;why the equivocation?
Connie Moser February 22, 2012 at 11:14 AM
Bill, I'm trying to get some more information about the funding request for the Americans in Wartime Museum. They made a request at a recent BOCS meeting for one million dollars, to be given over a five year period. The county has invested $721,000 since 2003 and now is committing to another million. I'm sure it is an investment on the future return expected from tourism revenue when the museum opens in 2014. I actually am on the steering committee for the museum, but we have had little new information for quite some time. I absolutely want the museum to succeed, as I feel it will bring some much needed improvements to the surrounding area and make Dale City a place to drive to...not through. When I acquire more information, I will certainly feature the museum in a future column.
bill cummings February 26, 2012 at 08:13 AM
54 million up front
Connie Moser February 26, 2012 at 04:34 PM
I'll devote a column to the Americans in Wartime museum, soon, but I can safely say the prior investment of $721,000.00 and the current request of $200,000.00 a year for the next five years is money invested in the return projected for the museum. More details soon, but I still feel we're on firm ground in support of the museum.
Sheila Beaty March 16, 2012 at 12:37 PM
I still think the War Time museum should be in Triangle, Not in Dale City.. I know Hyltons donated the land, So What....( Make sure they have a plaque ) I thinks its a Poor judgement decision. I also know I'm beating a dead horse and you all are going to see it through no matter how foolish it is. I wish there was a way to stop this.

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