Sunday, December 11, 2005


The liberal(but good) blog James Walkinshaw has a great post up about the Prince William County Board of Supervisors Split on their plea for a bifurcated real estate tax. Here are a few of the Supervisors, and their stances on it. Connaughton-In Favor Why? To Help the average Homeowner Nohe-In Favor Why? To Help the average Homeowner -Supervisor Marty Nohe even owns a small business, and says the tax would not hurt his busieness, but will help him as a homeowner Covington-? Why-Wants more roads? Stewart-Against Why-Virginia is a pro-business state! This is the problem I have with people who are so stubborn, that they won't budge unless its all or nothing. Here is my view of this from a logical common-sense standpoint. -So Stewart disagrees, and from a fiscally conservative pro-business standpoint, I see exactlly what he is trying to say..but what does this mean for the vote? Him not agreeing to this, seems to mean that the board will then have to compromise and not lower residential property tax rates as much as they would, thus hurting the average homeowner. The principle is great, but the outcome is poor. This is a perfect example of what seperates the the percieved "moderates" and "conservatives" in the Virginia party. It is not ideological stand points, but results. On one side we have people who are logical, think through issues, and do what is BEST for their constituents. On the other side we have people who refuse to budge and inch, then when a compromise has to come into play..blame the other side for the compromise.


At 12/12/2005 12:35:00 AM, Blogger GOPHokie said...

Don't forget that commercial property is usually assessed higher to start with. Also, I assume you have machinery taxes on businesses as well in PWC.
PWC does have the advantage of not having to use alot of tax breaks to lure business though, so helping citizens won't hurt business too much.
I think both have good arguements.

At 12/12/2005 01:00:00 AM, Blogger Willis said...

To a simple mind, a simple world is apparent.

At 12/12/2005 06:53:00 AM, Blogger too conservative said...

GopHokie-I see your point.


At 12/12/2005 08:06:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The problem the County faces is that the dramatic drops in the rates which have occurred over the past 6 years are benefitting commercial properties more than residential because the former are not appreciating as much as residential. Last year, pretty much every commercial property owner in the county paid less taxes then the year before because the rate drop was more then the appreciation rate for commercial properties. If the County could have two different rates, they could equalize the property tax impact on both types of property.

At 12/12/2005 08:52:00 AM, Anonymous TJDavis said...

You can't really trust anything Sean Connaughton says about taxes anymore.
He has made a career out of claiming that his rate reductions equal tax breaks even though they are typically outpaced by assessmnets.
Corey Stewart, on the other hand has always been the more business-minded member of the PWC Board of Supervisors. He is correct in his assumption that shifting the tax burden will dissuade new businesses from locating in the county.

At 12/12/2005 09:00:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Corey Stewart, on the other hand has always been the more business-minded member of the PWC Board of Supervisors."

WHAT?!?!?! Where, or WHERE, did you get that?!?!?!?!

Go to a meeting of the public policy committee of the Prince William Regional Chamber of Commerce and find me one person who would vote for Corey Stewart for anything. The business community HATES that guy!

At 12/12/2005 09:27:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have to agree with anonymous 9:00 AM on this one. Stewart is very much disliked by the business community whereas Connaughton is considered their champion (even when they don't agree with him they know he is pushing to reform the County and its operations).

Since Stewart has voted against cutting the tax rates, I don't think he has any record on this issue that he or anyone else should be proud of.

At 12/12/2005 10:17:00 AM, Blogger Riley, Not O'Reilly said...

Anon. 8:06 has a point. Businesses are getting a bigger effective tax cut than homeowners due to the differential in the appreciation of commercial real estate vis a vis residential real estate in the county. The dual rate concept is meant to equalize the disparity between the two distinct types of real estate.

No one is suggesting that taxes be raised on businesses. Worst case scenario, they wind up paying roughly the same amount year to year (which is still far below what they'd be paying in other area jurisdictions to our north based upon the value of their property.)

The declining revenues from business real estate does keep the residential rate from being cut even more (or other local taxes, such as the personal property / car tax from being reduced or eliminated.)

This proposal would seem to be an equitable solution that would help homeowners keep more of their own money while maintaining a business-friendly climate in the county.

And that comes from someone who has taught his 3-year old daughter to say, "The Government took my money. We have to get it back."

At 12/12/2005 10:52:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't think Stewart CAN vote for this proposal - he signed a NO TAX INCREASE pledge. If he votes for a differentiated rate, then business taxes will go up - probably only a miniscule amount - but up nonetheless. Therein lies the problem with this brainless all-or-nothing pledges.

(Of course, on his own, Stewart would never agree to this anyway, IMO. Mostly because he is a fool.)

At 12/12/2005 11:12:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sean wants to raise taxes, again?

There's a surprise!

At 12/12/2005 11:17:00 AM, Blogger too conservative said...

Agreed Riley.

I wonder where Stirrup and Caddigan stand.

At 12/12/2005 11:22:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Riley makes the point. By cutting rates to the point that all businesses pay less taxes year to year, homeowners pick up the slack. The County is trying to manage the actual tax bills paid so that homeowner and commercial bills remain roughly the same from year to year.

At 12/12/2005 11:30:00 AM, Blogger GOPHokie said...

Riley does make a good point. The key here is how much business would really turn away if their taxes went up (or weren't going down).
My guess is it won't have a big effect. Sounds like Chairman Sean is on the right track here.

At 12/12/2005 11:49:00 AM, Blogger too conservative said...

As always..!

At 12/12/2005 12:48:00 PM, Anonymous Rtwng Extrmst said...

Anon, there is no automatic increase for businesses just because there is a change to a separate business rate. Stewart certainly could vote in favor of the change without endangering his tax increase pledge. It would depend on how he voted on any proposed rate to assign to business.

BTW most of these "brainless" pledges as you call them are not "all or nothing". They merely state that there should be a limit on the growth in taxes and that the signer is agreeing to work to add sanity to the tax policies being enacted and not approve needless increases. For example, many of these "anti-taxers" support legislation that would limit the increase in taxes in real dollars to inflation rate plus population growth. This is still technically an increase, but meets the requirements of the pledges.

At 12/12/2005 02:01:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If that were true, why has Stewart voted against the County budget which pretty much mirrors County population growth plus inflation? I think he just likes to be contrarian to get his name in the paper...

At 12/12/2005 02:17:00 PM, Anonymous MOM said...

"the County budget which pretty much mirrors County population growth plus inflation"

Which alternate universe are you in?

At 12/12/2005 04:30:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I saw number that said that population is growing at 5% a year and local inflation is around 4.5%.

At 12/13/2005 07:35:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

That is why the Prince William Taxpayers Alliance changed their pledge to just inflation instead of population growth PLUS inflation. Remember the adage: when the other team starts winning, move the goal posts!

At 12/13/2005 10:45:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

When PWTA started out their pledge was just "No tax increase".

So, what is this now, the 3rd or 4th iteration?

Why does it keep changing? Because it is a game, a con.

The bottom line is most of these people are actively engaged in working to get rid of 50% of the taxes residents pay - by eliminating funding for public schools.

If these people were honestly concerned about where our tax money was being spent, they'd be dissecting the county budget and advocating specific budget cuts - there are a lot of them to be found in the budget. Instead, they advocate nebulous "lower taxes".

At 12/13/2005 11:16:00 AM, Anonymous MOM said...

Perhaps cutting the funding for that sacred cow is part of the answer, albeit an unpopular and impolitic one. Explain to me why many of the schools require a vice-prinicpal for each grade, multiple guidance counselors at the elementary or middle school level, school psychologists on staff, social workers, etc. It would appear at first blush there is a tremendous amount of money to be saved by cutting the bloated administrative staff, money that might be better used if not for other county priorities at least to get the students out of trailers. How's that for a specific cut, not that making specific cuts in the county budget is easy as the budget is about as easy to read and informative as those put out by Federal Agencies, long on fluff and feel good mission statements, short on specific program costs.

At 12/13/2005 12:06:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

" ... the schools require a vice-prinicpal for each grade, multiple guidance counselors at the elementary or middle school level, school psychologists on staff, social workers, etc."

Does Prince William have all this? I have never seen them (although after reading this blog I may need the psychologist)!

At 12/13/2005 12:47:00 PM, Anonymous MOM said...

Bull Run Middle School, 6th, 7th and 8th grade

Bixby, William Principal
Addington, James Assistant Principal
Donley, Yvonne Assistant Principal
Horbert, Denise Assistant Principal
Vega, Lisa TAA
Puhlick, Dan Part time TAA

Guidance and Counseling Email Address

Graney, Beth Director
Rainer, Paula 8th grade counselor
Stone, Tori 7th grade counselor
Walker, Jennifer L. 6th grade counselor

School Psychologist

Luk, Deb

Social Worker

D'Amico, Tracey

This doesn't include the 18 Special Education staff members, 7 specialists, Student Assistant Program Specialist, Educational Diagnostician, countless aides, etc.

This is a scenario repeated countless times across the county. Start adding up the salaries and dollar figures are staggering.

At 12/13/2005 03:45:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

4 principals for 1500 kids - that's not too far offbase - guess it depends on whether you've got a school full of angels or not.

I've never heard of multiple counselors for the elementary level - got some backup?

Is the school social worker and psychologist full time at that one particular school? In many areas they float. Then again - what are the demographics of the school - maybe they need a social worker there full-time. Unfortunately, the world isn't full of perfect parents like you and me.

God forbid they have 18 special ed teachers for 1500 kids. Maybe 1 would do. All those special ed kids don't actually need extra help, do they.

And the PWC budget - yeah, it's full of fluff - and lots of info if you bother to sit down and read it. And even more info can be had with a few well placed FOIA requests.

Unfortunately, the taxpayer alliances frequently make accusations just like that in the post above - lacking any research or facts. 18 special ed teachers is not out of line just because there are 18. Maybe 18 are needed. Maybe there is a high percent of special ed students in that school of 1800. And of course we all know that you can't teach 25 special ed students in one classroom like you can with regular ed students.

Let's try for specific cuts backed up by FACTS.

At 12/13/2005 04:13:00 PM, Anonymous MOM said...

"4 principals for 1500 kids - that's not too far offbase - guess it depends on whether you've got a school full of angels or not."

How much administrative/discipline work is there? I'm aware of many high schools with fewer, ie: 1, vice-principals.

"I've never heard of multiple counselors for the elementary level - got some backup?"

The four listed are straight off their website.

Given the demographics of the school, I find it hard to believe there is a great need for a full time social worker or a psychologist. Even if there is such a need, why is the school board shouldering that burden, doesn't the county provide other social service programs, is this a needless duplication of other programs?

As to the budget, I am too familiar with that type of budget info. Lots of "performance measures" and "program costs" but little in terms of little item allocations. It's harder to question a divisions allocation if they don't provide a detailed line item accounting of their budget request. That type of detail should be provided routinely by the departments and if it isn't, the County Executive should require it of them. Oops, forgot, its in his interest to keep the budget request vague.

You don't lecture me on FOIA requests, I file several hundred a year and in order to make efffective use of it, you generally need a somewhat specific request to avoid delays, exorbidant costs and the delivery of hundreds or thousands of pages of useless material that have to be sifted.

I merely mentioned the other positions as a potential further example of what is possibly bloated staffing. You wanted a specific cut, I gave it to, slash the administration and guidance departments.

Me thinks you doth protest too much with your shrill cry for cuts based on FACTS, you wouldn't be a member of the NEA would you?

At 12/13/2005 05:20:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

UH, mom -

That's Bull Run MIDDLE school.

In case you didn't know, a middle school is NOT an elementary school.

At 12/13/2005 05:24:00 PM, Anonymous MOM said...

Uh, anonymous-

It was anon. 3:45 that asserted "elementary" school.

Please tell me you're not educating our children.

At 12/13/2005 05:34:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oops, hit enter too soon.

You claimed counselors for every elementary grade level - and then provide an example of a MIDDLE school. A middle school is NOT an elementary school.

Are you aware of the backlog that PWC social services has? And now you want them to tackle every social ill in the schools TOO?

I don't know the exact demographics of Bull Run Middle - apparently you don't either. So - before you say they have TOO MUCH -- maybe you better learn. Maybe they DO have too much -- but I'd sure as heck like to KNOW before someone advocates cuts just because they BELIEVE they have too much.

Yes, FOIA can be a bitch. But if you shoot in the dark as much on FOIA as you've done here, it's no wonder you get the run-around.

And I agree completely that all the info one needs is NOT in the budget - and it SHOULD be.

But then again, if it was line by line in the budget, then county staffers would have their days filled with people demanding less vice principals in each and every school because they BELIEVE they aren't needed. Sorry, I'd rather KNOW they aren't needed - so I don't fling accusations around without FACTS. Apparently you do.

As for wanting FACTS - wow - that's a crime? Well, facts be damned. Let's all just run governments and businesses according to whimsey. What a stupid retort - only people who are NEA can think lack of facts in decision making is IGNORANT. No, I'm not NEA, not associated with the schools, not a teacher, etc., etc. I just happen to KNOW that lobbing accusations at people/organizations without any facts to back it up is IGNORANT.

Guess we can be glad you're not a supervisor since you've already decided that counselors, vice principals, and social workers are valid cuts - without ANY factual basis for that decision.

At 12/13/2005 05:36:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Uh MOM - look at your 11:16 post.

YOU said elementary school counselors.

At 12/13/2005 06:12:00 PM, Blogger Gone said...

This board is not as strong as what it once was. I say bring back Ed Wilbourn.

At 12/14/2005 09:02:00 AM, Blogger MOM said...

The quote was "multiple guidance counselors at the elementary or middle school level" and the example was one for each grade level in a middle school. You guys need to read a little more closely and consider the context of the sentences and the string.

With regard to facts being presented, bear in mind you started the debate by asserting that activists are trying to reduce the tax burden by cutting the school's funding. I see no facts presented to support the position. In response, I merely pointed out the POSSIBILITY of the administration being bloated ergo use of the phrase "at first blush".

Rather than providing a reasoned or rational response to debunk the possibility, you have responded with a shrill attack based on the semantics of my response (a poorly constructed attack) and a request for facts that have or had been presented. It is this behavior that makes the school budget hard and impolitic to attack as it becomes an emotional issue for warriors of the sacred cow who loose the dogs of war upon any who question the wisdom of the school board on any level.

Putting the issue of potentially bloated administrative staffs aside, there are many other aspects of the PWC School Budget and planning process that require scrutiny. No one can debate the massive growth in the county and its impact on the capacity of the schoool system. No one can debate that the growth comes a result of development applications that take years to be approved and additional years to be constructed. That having been said, how do you explain the failure of the School Board to adequately plan for increased demand? I make particular reference to the a lack of long range planning with regard to site acquisiton for new schools. Want a fact, I'll give you one. When the rezoning application for Wentworth Green was heard by the BOCS at shortly before midnight, the primary supporters of the vastly increased density were members of the school board, why, because it proffered a middle school site that the School Board had failed to procure and one that did not have to come out of their budget. I distinctly remember Supervisor Caddigan biting her lip and voting for the rezoning and commenting that the proffered school site was a primary driver in her decision. Adverse impact on the current residents, proximity to Nissan, inadequate infrastructure be damned, the School Board needed the site. Talk about the tail wagging the dog. I just hope the parents of the children who attend the new school remember who voted for it while they wait for the school bus on days when there are concerts at Nissan. Heaven forbid there is a Friday or Saturday function at the school on concert days.

As to FOIA requests and "shooting in the dark", the point was that a request generally needs to be somewhat specific to be effective and the lack of detail in the budget makes that difficult.

Lastly, you requested facts, got them and resorted to the IGNORANT card because you didn't like or understand the response. Again, the original premise was that the administrative staff has the POTENTIAL to be bloated based on numbers posted by the schools. The problem with the topic isn't the related facts surrounding the issue but the hysterics that ensue when the topic is broached. Maybe I should run for supervisor as at least I am willing to catch the arrows loosed by the School Board fedayeen when the school's actions or budgets are scrutinized. Same goes for the Planning Office, Social Programs, VDOT, take your pick, no department, local, state or Federal should be above scrutiny merely because an official fears the emotional outcry of that department's supporters who can't differentiate between debatable propositions and actual assertions.

At 12/14/2005 09:46:00 AM, Blogger James Young said...

A little late to this thread, but Anon 7:35's comment is simply misinformed. The PWTA's pledge (I am a founding member, and have continued on the Executive Board) has always taken account of population growth and inflation.

Once again, an ill-informed slander against the limited government crowd (you know, like the Founders) which bears no relation to reality.


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