In February 1997, the school board approved a $9
million computerized student information system.
One would hope that computerization would lead to
a smaller administrative staff. Not so.
On November 20, 1998, the school board received a
Phase I report, "Workload and Classification Study of
Office-Based Positions," by MGT of America. This
is the company that in 1997 performed a $500,000
management analysis of the school system and
concluded that Fairfax County had one of the best
managed school systems in the country.
MGT's report recommends an increase of about 300
new office positions at a cost of about $8 million.
The PTA states that there is a "$500 million deficit in
unfunded, delayed, and unbuilt projects."
This year, the county will spend $168 million, or 9%
of its budget, on principal and interest payments (i.e.,
debt service) for school and county bonds. The PTA
would like to increase the debt service from 9% to
12% or even 15%. An increase from 9% to 15%
would require a tax increase of about $110 million,
more than twice as large as the supervisors' 1996 tax
The PTA article claims that such an increase would
cost the average household only about $65 more per
year in taxes.
The PTA should explain why
there is a $500 million deficit in
school capital projects but does
not. For example the claim has
been made that five high
schools - Annandale, McLean,
Madison, Stuart, and Lee - have
not had comprehensive
renovations since their
construction in the 50s.
However, school records show
that these schools were funded
for renovations in 1977 and
1986 bonds. Why were these
Is the PTA aware that during the 80s the schools
almost doubled per-student spending (up 86%)? The
annual cost to the taxpayers for this 86% increase is
about $600 million.
Is the PTA aware that the result of higher taxes has
been low student achievement? For example, the
county's average SAT score is at the 64th percentile.
Nevertheless, a tax increase is likely. According to
the article, ". . . the leadership of the Board of
Supervisors has promised no tax increases until 2000
. . . " It appears then that the PTA will get a tax
increase, right after the November 1999, supervisors
At the Fairfax County Taxpayers Alliance annual
meeting, held Oct. 6, 1998, Arthur Purves, Tom
Pfister, and Mark Collins were re-elected to two-year
terms as president, first vice president, and second
vice president. Tom Beck, Robert Beck, Doug
Barylski, Ludwig Benner, and Jim Purvis were elected
to two-year terms as at-large directors. All are former
board members except for Jim Purvis, whom we
welcome to the board. In addition, elected as district
directors were Ray Coggin (Hunter Mill District) Lou
DiLeonardo (Braddock District), and Jack Fetner
(Providence District). All three are serving their first
term, which will expire in October 1999. Ray Coggin
and Lou DiLeonardo have been serving diligently for
several months. We welcome Jack Fetner, who is
new to the board.
Tom Beck and Perry Young agreed to continue
serving as treasurer and secretary, which are
appointed positions with two-year terms.
|FCTA 1998-99 Officers
Arthur Purves President
Tom Pfister First VP
Mark Collins Second VP
Tom Beck Treasurer
Perry Young Secretary
Tom Beck At-Large Director
Robert Beck At-Large Director
Ludwig Benner At-Large Director
Jim Purvis At-Large Director
Dick Epperson Mt. Vernon
Warren Hill Mason
Al Marcy Sully
Elizabeth Smith Dranesville
Ray Coggin Hunter Mill
Lou DiLeonardo Braddock
Jack Fetner Providence
At the December 1 board meeting Doug Barylski, who
spearheaded the Alliance's sign campaign against the
recent bond referenda, resigned to run for school
board from Mason District. We wish Doug success in
his school board race. We thank all board members
for their service. Community involvement requires a
sacrifice of family time. We thank the spouses and
children of board members for their support.
The Alliance currently has two vacancies for district
directors (Lee and Springfield districts) and five
vacancies for at-large directors. We invite citizens
who want to rein in government spending to join our
For the annual meeting, the Alliance invited the
county government to send representatives to answer
questions about the November 1998, bond referenda
for parks and public safety. Eighteen county
- John Shivik, John Pratt, Sandra Duckworth,
and Frank Vajda - Citizens Committee for the Bond
- Judge F. Bruce Bach - Chief Judge of the
- Judge Kathleen H. MacKay - Juvenile and
Domestic Relations Court
- Ed Long - Director of the Department of
Management and Budget
- Frank de la Fe - Chairman, Fairfax County
Park Authority Board
- Todd H. Hafner - Director Northern Virginia
Regional Park Authority
- Captain Charron - West Springfield Police
- Assistant Chief Mark Wheatley - Fairfax
County Fire & Rescue Department
- Ron Kirkpatrick - Office of Capital Facilities,
- Kathy Simmons - Office of Public Affairs
- Carol Ann Cohen - Northern Virginia
Regional Park Authority
- Leslie Nickels - Circuit Court
- Martha Newcomb - Department of
Management and Budget
- Merni Fitzgerald and Jay Jorgensen - Fairfax
County Park Authority
These individuals provided Alliance members an
exceptional opportunity to ask questions about
government policies and spending. Attendance was
light, but the discussion was lively. The Fairfax
County Taxpayers Alliance sincerely thanks the
county representatives listed above for attending our
By Arthur Purves
COUNTY COUNCIL OF PTAs:
"PROPONENTS OF RESTRAINED GOVERNMENT SPENDING
AND LOWER TAXES ARE "ARROGANT AND SELFISH"
As discussed in Arthur Purves' article entitled "PTA:
Supervisors To Raise Taxes In Year 2000," the FCTA
recently challenged factual assertions made by the
County Council of PTAs (the "PTA") in calling for a
new local income tax and increased borrowing by
Fairfax County. The PTA's hostile response to this
criticism provides a telling glimpse of the attitude of
some who relentlessly advocate increased government
spending and taxes in Fairfax County.
The PTA supports increasing the percentage of the
operating budget that Fairfax County can spend on
principal and interest payments ("debt service") to
bond holders from 9% to 15%. As an alternative
means to fund increased spending, the PTA has also
proposed a new local income tax on county residents.
This proposal reflects the PTA's frustration in having
their spending goals thwarted by
smaller-than-expected increases in property tax
revenue, due to stagnant real estate values.
The FCTA challenged the PTA's estimates of the
increased tax burden that the average homeowner
would bear if the county increased its debt service to
15% of the operating budget. The PTA claims that its
proposal would cost the average homeowner an
additional $65 per year in property taxes. The fact is
that spending an additional $110 million per year in
debt service would require a 10% increase in the
average homeowner's property tax bill - an extra $210
per year (based upon the average annual property tax
bill of $2100).
When presented with these facts, the PTA resorted to
insults and diatribe. Robert Whiteman, first
vice-president of the PTA, responded in a December
8, 1998 e-mail that even if the increased burden on
the average homeowner were $400 per year, "no
one in Fairfax County who qualifies for a
mortgage should be angry to pay it. They should
be ashamed of themselves for wanting to spend
money on vacations and not on making sure
children are well educated. Associations such as
yours [FCTA] make me ill with the arrogant and
selfish attitudes of the primarily upper class white
Apparently, Mr. Whiteman and the PTA believe that
overtaxed Fairfax County homeowners have nothing
better to spend their hard-earned dollars on than
vacations, and the desire to retain those dollars
through restrained government spending and taxation
is "arrogant and selfish." It is no small irony that Mr.
Whiteman, who purports to know best how to spend
an ever-increasing amount of taxpayer dollars, calls
those who dare to disagree "arrogant and selfish."
Most important, Mr. Whiteman ignores the fact that
public schools are not graduating "well educated"
children, even though spending has increased
enormously. Per student spending has almost
doubled, after inflation, since 1975, while SAT scores
remain mediocre (65th percentile). When will Mr.
Whiteman and his organization learn that
spending more taxpayer dollars is not the solution
to every problem?
In the end, Mr. Whiteman's shocking comments speak
for themselves. They serve to put taxpayers on notice
that the battle against increased taxes is ongoing, and
those who fight it will be subjected to insults and
name-calling. In contrast, the FCTA will continue to
advocate fiscal responsibility, government efficiency,
and lower taxes - by presenting the facts.
By Mark A. Collins
It is no small irony that Mr. Whiteman,
who purports to know best how to spend
an ever-increasing amount of taxpayer
dollars, calls those who dare to disagree
"arrogant and selfish."
FAIRFAX COUNTY SCHOOL BOARD AGAIN ADVOCATES INDEPENDENT
TAXING AUTHORITY AND A
LOCAL INCOME TAX
The latest threat to Fairfax County taxpayers is an
unhappy case of deja vu: The Fairfax County School
Board (the "School Board") has released its 1999
Legislative Program, and once again the School Board
is asking Virginia legislators to authorize local school
boards to independently levy new taxes on their
constituents. The School Board also advocates a
variety of new or increased taxes, ranging from a new
local income tax to increased sales and cigarette taxes.
Specifically, the School Board supports amendments
to the Virginia Constitution that will empower elected
school boards to impose taxes separate from (and in
addition to) taxes already imposed by county
government. In addition, the School Board seeks a
"menu of tax options for localities to select from
according to local need." The Legislative Program
advocates "additional sources of tax revenue be made
available, either by creating new instruments of
taxation; permitting all localities to levy a piggyback
local income tax; extending and/or raising the
maximum limits on existing taxes, such as the sales or
the cigarette tax."
This is one menu that is sure to turn the stomach
of Fairfax County taxpayers. Exhibiting a
seemingly insatiable desire for taxpayer dollars, the
School Board refuses to come to grips with the fact
that higher taxes and spending doesn't necessarily
raise academic achievement. Per student spending
has increased 70% after inflation since 1975, yet
standardized test scores have remained flat at the 75th
percentile. Since 1988, Fairfax County Public
Schools SAT scores have not increased from the 65th
percentile. Instead of again "shaking down" the
taxpayers, the School Board needs to take a hard look
at its own performance, identify and eliminate
unproductive programs and utilize the savings to
satisfy any new funding requirements.
Of course, this is not the first time the School Board
has advocated these new burdens on taxpayers - its
1998 Legislative Program did much the same thing.
As a result, in the fall of 1997 the FCTA surveyed all
Fairfax County candidates for the House of Delegates,
asking whether they would commit to opposing the
array of new taxes advocated by the School Board.
Taxpayers should take some comfort that certain
delegates to the Virginia General Assembly offered
that commitment, including Delegates David Albo,
Vincent Callahan, Jr., Jeannemarie Devolites, and
Jay O'Brien. Delegate Vivian E. Watts committed
to opposing independent taxing authority for local
school boards. The FCTA encourages all of its
members to contact their delegates and senators and
urge them to oppose the new taxes advocated by the
School Board in 1999.
By Mark A. Collins
Phyllis Schlafly, founder of the national volunteer
organization Eagle Forum, recently reported on a
proposed FDIC regulation, "Know Your Customer,"
that would require each bank to . . . "determine the
identity of all its customers, determine each
customer's sources of funds; determine each
customer's normal and expected bank transactions;
monitor the activity of each account, looking for
deposits and withdrawals that are inconsistent with
the expected pattern of financial transactions; and
report any transactions that someone might call
In addition, . . . "if you deviate significantly from this
pattern (such as by earning some extra money or
buying or selling a car), your once-friendly bank will
report the "inconsistent" transactions to a federal
You can find more information on the following Web
Page - http://www.fdic.gov/banknews/know.html
You can reach the FDIC directly at 202-393-8400 or
by sending an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org The
comment period ends March 8, 1999. T. Pfister
No car tax. These three little words swept
a candidate into the governor's mansion
and kept Virginia state legislators working
overtime in the longest legislative session in
While I am no fan of the car tax, at least there was
some consolation in the fact that I paid considerably
less tax on my 1985 Japanese hatchback than my
neighbors paid on their late-model Swedish and
Unpopular though it may be, the car tax is based on a
clear-cut system that uses the year, make, and model
of the vehicle to determine the amount of tax to be
paid. Can the same be said for the process used to
determine residential property assessments?
Those who disagree with their assessments can file an
appeal with the Fairfax County Department of Tax
Administration (DTA) and eventually appeal to the
Fairfax County Board of Equalization (BOE).
When the Fairfax County Parkway was routed just
behind David Olson's property, he appealed the
revised assessment because he felt it did not
adequately reflect the negative effect on the value of
his property. He cited the case of his next-door
neighbor who, because of the proximity of the
parkway and the high noise level, was unable to sell
his property even at a price below the assessed value.
The comparator properties used by the DTA to justify
his assessment were all located much farther from the
parkway. The Board ruled against Mr. Olson.
However, noise does become a factor when it supports
the county tax assessor's case. When I questioned
why I paid higher taxes on a vintage rambler than my
neighbors paid on newer, higher-priced colonials just
across the street, the DTA replied it was because the
colonials are closer to the beltway and "the noise level
in their back yard is greater than in [my backyard]."
Frederick Suffa, Chairman of the Board of
Equalization, says the Board will only consider a
reduction in taxes when the owner can produce
documented proof of a decreased dollar-value and its
direct correlation to a specific condition.
Henry Delima thought he had such proof. When the
Delimas built a house in McLean, the DTA assessed
the property based on the prices of nearby homes with
similar living space. But the assessment per square
foot of the comparator homes was lower than
Delima's. Using the DTA's own figures on the square
foot value of the properties they had chosen as
comparable, Delima showed that his house was
assessed higher. The BOE refused to change the
assessment, saying there were other factors besides
square footage that determined an assessment, but
neither they nor the DTA assessors were able to
specify what these factors were in Delima's case. "It
was like I was wasting my time." Delima said.
Jack Cooper, an independent real estate appraiser with
36 years of experience, says an appraiser would
normally check the sales prices of similar properties
not affected by the negative condition and factor in
any difference. The golden rule for appraisers, he
says, is "staying in the subject neighborhood and
being sure you are comparing like properties." An
appraiser looks not only at the sales price of
comparable properties, but will check on their actual
interior condition and amenities. But, Cooper stresses,
an assessment is not an appraisal.
Like Delima, several other homeowners had done
their homework by checking on assessments of
neighboring properties, pointing out disparities in the
DTA comparator properties, and checking with real
estate agents on the current market value of their
properties and recent sales in the neighborhood. A
number of them said that Board members were
dismissive of their supporting evidence.
Discrepancies and inequities in the real estate
assessment system, whatever their origin, can only be
corrected if homeowners are vigilant and are willing
to pursue an appeal when warranted. Homeowner
associations should check periodically on
neighborhood assessments and query significant
variations, advising their district supervisors as well
as the DTA of any concerns.
by Gail Berre
Hidden Costs of Government
When I got back from a recent vacation, I found the phone companies had charged us for the following government
taxes and fees, scattered around our bill:
3.50 Federal Subscriber Line Charge
- 1.75 911 Tax Local
- 0.16 Virginia Relay Center Surcharge
- 0.50 Public Rights-of-way Use Fee
- 0.58 Taxes Federal
- 4.83 Taxes Local
- 0.64 State and local taxes-out of state
- 0.42 State and local Surcharges - out of state
- 1.07 National Access Fee
- 4.54 Federal Universal Service Fee
- 0.08 Federal Tax (collect call from pay phone)
- 0.21 Universal Service Fund
- 0.30 Federal Tax
- $ 18.59 Total government taxes and fees
The fees added 17.7% to my phone bill in direct charges. It would have been $ 104.37 without the taxes and fees.
Hidden in that $ 104.37 is the unknown but surely a substantial amount of money the phone companies had to spend
for collecting, distributing, and recording of data for the taxes and fees involved. Add the costs of state and federal
audits and the cost must be another 3-5% of my bill.
Probably not one in 100 taxpayers realizes they are carrying these hidden burdens of government. Until they do,
proliferation of such hidden burdens will continue to grow in the future. While a Federal flat tax or sales tax would
be a big help, that would not fix the local and state problems. The fragmentation of the taxes and fees has got to be
the most inefficient and burdensome way to collect taxes and fees that can be imagined. It illustrates what happens
when governments keep adding taxes and fees on more and more aspects of our lives, and why new government
initiatives must be brought under control by our elected representatives. If you think the phone tax and fee situation
is bad, wait until you see what our legislators do to Internet services if taxpayers do nothing to stop them.
By Ludwig Benner
Wait. There's more.
January 4, 1999
The Washington Post reports that we can expect new monthly charges to begin appearing on our phone bills. We
now pay a "federal subscriber line charge" of $3.50 a month for our first phone line and $5.00 a month for each
additional line. Starting this month we will be charged a fee of $6.07 per month for additional phone lines. Look
for an additional charge of between 60 and 75 cents per line in July.
In addition, federal regulators have given the phone companies permission to impose a new charge of as much as
$1 per month to pay for "upgrades that would allow people to keep their phone number while changing local service
providers." Perhaps, if enough people call to complain, the phone companies will refrain from passing this new
charge onto consumers. T. Pfister
"None Dare Call It Conspiracy"
Back in 1972 Gary Allen and Larry Abraham authored a book titled "None Dare Call It Conspiracy." In this
book Mr. Allen listed what he called fourteen signposts on the road to totalitarianism. They are:
- .Restrictions on taking money out of the country and on the establishment or retention of a foreign bank
account by an American citizen.
- Abolition of private ownership of hand guns.
- .Detention of individuals without judicial process.
- .Requirements that private financial transactions be keyed to social security numbers or other
government identification so that government records of these transactions can be fed into a computer.
- .Use of compulsory education laws to forbid attendance at presently existing private school.
- .Compulsory non-military service.
- .Compulsory psychological treatment for non government workers or public school children.
- .An official declaration that anti-communist organizations are subversive and subsequent legal action
taken to suppress them.
- .Laws limiting the number of people allowed to meet in a private home.
- .Any significant change in passport regulations to make passports more difficult to obtain.
- .Wage and price controls, especially in a non-wartime situation.
- .Any kind of compulsory registration with the government of where individuals work.
- .Any attempt to restrict freedom of movement within the United States.
- .Any attempt to make a new major law by executive decree ( that is, actually put into effect, not merely
authorized as by existing executive orders.)
It looks to me like the "Bridge to the 21st Century" is being paved with lost freedoms. T.Pfister
In the January 9 edition of The Washington Post, we learn that " More than 97 percent of Virginia's public schools
have flunked the first round of the state's new student achievement tests. . . ." Mark Emery, chairman of the Fairfax
County School Board, laments "How can anyone expect our parents and students to take the SOL [ Standards
of Learning ] exams seriously when they know that students in Fairfax are setting standards on every national exam
and benchmark, sending students to some of the finest colleges in the country and yet failing the state tests?" Mr.
Emory has indicated that he was "stunned" by the results.
I too am stunned. I am stunned when only 17 of 398 schools in Northern Virginia are able to meet the new Virginia
state standards. I am stunned that Mr. Emory would suggest that students in Fairfax County are . . . "setting
standards on every national exam. . . ." when the average Fairfax County senior scores only at the 64th percentile on
I am stunned that Mr. Emory would mention that county students are attending some of the "finest colleges in the
country" without also mentioning that statewide only about 55% of high school seniors who attend four-year colleges
actually graduate. Are the results likely to be significantly different for Fairfax County students?
I am stunned that had the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors not allowed County spending to increase
twice as fast as inflation and population during the 1980's, the average Fairfax County household would be
paying $1000 per year in taxes instead of $3000 per year.
Since 1975, county taxpayers have paid six billion dollars more for school and county services than can be justified
by inflation and population growth. The Fairfax County School Board is now again advocating that it should be
given independent taxing authority, while at the same time, also advocating a new local income tax. T. Pfister
© 1999 by the Fairfax County Taxpayers Alliance, Inc.
The Fairfax County Taxpayers Alliance
P.O. Box 356
Fairfax, Va. 22030
Have You Renewed Your
Membership for 1999?
The Taxpayers Alliance supports lower taxes, less spending, and restrained borrowing by our
government as well as citizen participation in government through initiative, referendum and recall. We
testify at public hearings, write citizens committees, disseminate voting records of elected officials, write
'op-ed' articles and letters to newspaper editors, provide speakers to citizens groups and analyze and
disseminate information on budgets, taxes and borrowing.
In order to successfully discharge our duties we need volunteers and dues-paying members. If you
would like to contribute your time or money to further our efforts, we would like to hear from you. Please
take the time now to fill out and send in your membership renewal application along with your dues and/or
contribution. We would like to thank you for your past and continued support.