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1999 Summer Bulletin

What Mr. Dyke and the other critics of Governor Gilmore ignore is that during the 80's Fairfax County already had enormous tax and spending increases from which the taxpayer has received little benefit.  Why cannot funds from these tax increases pay for transportation?  Politicians ask for higher taxes without any accountability for past increases.  This is especially true in Fairfax County.

These increases are shown in above charts, which reflect the newly approved Fairfax County and Fairfax County Public School System FY2000 budgets.  Since 1975, school per-student spending, adjusted for inflation, has increased 98 percent, from $4566 to $9021, and has reached a new high.  This means that this year the schools will receive $690 million more

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Virginia Governor Jim Gilmore has drawn criticism from Northern Virginia politicians, editors, and business leaders because he is refusing to raise taxes to pay for more roads.  For example, James W. Dyke, Jr., the new chairman of the Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce, has said the Chamber might support higher taxes for transportation if the issue were put to a voter referendum.  Mr. Dyke is a long-time advocate of higher taxes.  In 1996, the Democrat-controlled school board appointed Mr. Dyke chairman of the "Financing Education for 2001 Task Force."  That committee's July 11, 1996, report advocated taxing authority for school boards and combinations of tax increases including a higher sales tax, a new piggy-back income tax, a new meals tax, and higher occupancy taxes and cigarette taxes.  The only taxes Mr. Dyke's committee would not raise were utility taxes.

The Fairfax County Taxpayers Alliance


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than was required to keep up with population growth and inflation since 1975.

Since 1975, County non-school per-resident spending, adjusted for inflation, has increased 65 percent, from $613 to $1010 per resident .  This gives the County an extra $380 million per year.

The County's budget for FY2000 is $1.96 billion.  Half of this is due to tax and spending increases in excess of population growth and inflation since 1975.  Several months ago the Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce estimated that the cost of meeting County transportation needs was $250 million per year.  This is only a quarter of the extra  billion dollars the County receives each year due to tax and spending increases.  If money were reallocated from ineffective County programs, there would be funds for transportation without more tax increases.

A brief review of County programs suggests questionable spending.

The Fairfax County Public School System is a classic example of how higher school spending does not improve schools.  Despite nearly doubling per-student spending:

  • Last year, only six percent of Fairfax County public schools (13 out of 202) met the state's new school accreditation requirements (which do not take effect until 2007).

  • This year, only 20 percent of the schools (43 out of 202) met the accreditation requirements.

  • Fairfax School Superintendent Daniel A. Domenech believes that by 2007 only 60 to 70 percent of the schools will satisfy the accreditation standard.

Dr. Domench blames the tests rather than the school curriculum, which is the real problem.  He criticizes the history tests for emphasizing facts instead of concepts.  However how can one analyze concepts without developing a factual background first?

These are tests that an average student should pass. In all 8th grade and high school tests, a student passes if he gets 69% of the questions right.  For the high school chemistry and biology tests, a student need answer only 54% of the questions correctly to pass.

To continue, despite nearly doubling per-student spending:

  • The Fairfax County Public Schools average SAT score is at the 65th percentile.

  • There is a 30 point minority student achievement gap.

  • Only 55% of Fairfax County graduates who attend four-year colleges graduate from college (This is the state average, and Fairfax County has never provided any evidence that its gradu

ates perform better than the state average.)

  • Newspapers cite a shortage of 20,000 technology workers in Northern Virginia.

  • Schools are overcrowded and overdue for renovations.

School administrators claim that student achievement correlates with affluence and the parents' education level.  Fairfax County is in the 99th percentile compared to all counties nationwide for both household income and adults with college degrees.  Yet its students achieve only at the 65th percentile on SATs.  Doubling per-student spending has not increased student achievement.

As for the County, despite a 60% increase in spending per resident, residents face the second-worst commute in the United States.  The County has an $18 million maintenance backlog for County buildings, perhaps a $300 million backlog in stormwater drainage projects, and still relies on one-time surpluses to balance its budget.  Of the extra $380 million the County gets per year from tax increases, only $18 million goes for new transportation programs - the Fairfax Connector bus service and the Virginia Railway Express.

So where does the extra $1 billion go?

Two years ago the Fairfax County Taxpayers Alliance wrote the chairmen of the School Board and of the Board of Supervisors to ask for an accounting of the tax increases.  While the School Board did provide an answer, Board of Supervisors Chairman Katherine K. Hanley did not.  The correspondence is posted on the FCTA website --
www.fcta.org -- under the "Why We Care" heading.

So, taxpayers do not know where the County's tax increases are spent, although a previous FCTA newsletter reported that most of the increase is funding public safety, health and welfare.  We do know that the school system's spending increases have utterly failed to improve student achievement.

The Governor may have stymied his Fairfax critics, at least temporarily.  He pointed out that there already is a law that permits Fairfax County to impose a piggy-back income tax for transportation if it passes a voter referendum.  So far this election season, candidates are not rushing to advocate a local referendum for higher transportation taxes.  Perhaps they would rather have the tax increase passed on in Richmond.

Governor Gilmore is right to reject tax increases.  The state and local governments should instead examine previous tax increases to see if they are being spent effectively.  If Fairfax County is representative, current revenues may well be able to pay for transportation improvements.

By Arthur Purves

Arthur Purves, president of the FCTA, is an independent candidate for Chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors.  Visit his website at www.votepurves.org

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The Fairfax County Taxpayers Alliance


Paul E. Gagnon, former vice-president of the FCTA, is running for Chairman of the Board of Supervisors on a tax reform and smart growth platform. Gagnon calls his tax reform plan  "LOWER TAXES TO THE GROUND- REDUCE THE TAX ON BUILDINGS NOW!" The "Lower Taxes to the Ground" plan would replace the current real estate tax with a split rate system, sometimes called a site value tax that taxes land and buildings at two different rates.

The site value tax calls for a slightly higher rate on land assessments coupled with a much lower rate on buildings. The tax on buildings would be phased out gradually over five years. An incremental approach prevents a shock to the real estate market and allows the county government to adapt to lower revenues. Lower taxes on land would be granted to individual property owners who agree to conservation easements to preserve open green space.

The benefits of the site value tax are many. It reduces construction and rehabilitation costs by taxing buildings less; upgrades to current structures will not mean an increase in taxes. The average homeowner will see a decrease in property taxes. Urban sprawl is discouraged because valuable urban land will be used more efficiently and rural open space will remain unused because it has little taxable value. Central business districts will be invigorated because each business will have an incentive to improve buildings and amenities within the district. Renters will pay less because while the property tax on buildings is passed on to the renters, the landlord must absorb the tax on land. Absentee landlords, owners of vacant lots, and land speculators will pay more and have an incentive to sell their properties to more efficient property owners. The site value tax is used in over 700 jurisdictions throughout the world successfully.

In addition to tax reform Gagnon proposes a smart growth program consisting of an Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance, developer impact fees, and ending welfare for big developers. Gagnon advocates giving taxpayers a choice of county services and a tax refund for those not using county services such as libraries and parks. Gagnon believes we can get the kids out of trailers in the public schools by offering an incentive to parents who place their children in schools outside of the county public schools and at the same time save money.

Gagnon has been involved in the community for many years. His public service includes: the Commission for the New Government Center, 1990; the Commission on Organ Donor and Transplantation, 1996-98; the Lee District Land Use and Transportation Advisory Committee, 1990-present, currently Chairman; a Vice-President, Fairfax County Taxpayers Alliance, 1993-94; and Chairman, Libertarian Party of Fairfax County, 1992-98.

Gagnon's professional and education experience is as a Mediator, Trainer, and co-owner of Gagnon Training and Development. Other work experience include: USAF Air Traffic Controller, Medical Technologist, substitute teacher, boxcar loader, dock worker, barber, forklift operator, lay minister, and dishwasher. Gagnon holds a M.S. degree in Conflict Management from GMU. If you would like to help the Gagnon campaign Phone: 703-329-NVLP.  WEB PAGE: WWW.FREEFAIRFAX.COM, Email:74633.3520@compuserve.com  Authorized by the COMMITTEE TO ELECT PAUL E. GAGNON, 7011-A Manchester Blvd. Suite # 1776, Franconia, VA  22310


Johna Good Gagnon, an FCTA member is running for Northern Virginia Soil and Water Conservation Director. Johna has long been an advocate for the land. She will work  for the restoration of stream valleys, watersheds, and environmental quality corridors by increasing public and private cooperative efforts. Johna believes a "one-stop shopping" environmental clearinghouse needs to be established. Johna also wants to eliminate duplicate, obsolete, and ineffective regulations hampering environmental work.

Johna has a long history of community service. She has been on the Fairfax County Environmental Quality Advisory Council since 1993 to the present, representing Lee District; and serves on the Lee District Land Use and Transportation Advisory Committee. She is a member of the League of Women Voters of the Fairfax Area, Fairfax ReLeaf, Friends of Huntley Meadows Park.

Johna is a Counselor, Trainer, and co-owner of Gagnon Training and Development. Her work experience includes 27 years with the Dept. of Justice. Johna started her working life on her family's Amish farm in Lancaster, PA.  Johna was an office manager for a private Counseling Center in Northern Virginia and holds a M.Ed from George Mason University. Anyone wishing to help Johna can phone: 703-329-NVLP.  WEB PAGE: WWW.FREEFAIRFAX.COM, Email:74633.3520@compuserve.com  Authorized by the COMMITTEE TO ELECT PAUL E. GAGNON, 7011-A Manchester Blvd. Suite # 1776, Franconia, VA   22310

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The Fairfax County Taxpayers Alliance

Vote No! on the School Bond Referendum
Bonds Subsidize Mismanagement.
By Arthur Purves, FCTA President

On November 2, 1999, Fairfax County voters will be asked to approve a $296,800,000 bond referendum exclusively for schools.  Newspapers, almost all political candidates, and the business community are vocal in their support. 

However, at its July 6, 1999  meeting, the Fairfax County Taxpayers Alliance Board of Directors voted unanimously to oppose the referendum.  Arthur Purves, president of the FCTA and running as an independent candidate for chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, opposes the bond referendum as does Paul E. Gagnon.

For five years in a row, the County has spent more on debt service for bonds (i.e., annual payments for principal and interest) than it has received from bond sales.  For example, in FY1995, the County raised $100 million from bond sales while spending  $141 million on debt service; consequently the County spent $41 million more on debt service than it received from bond sales that year. In each year from FY1995 to FY2000 the County will have sold the maximum amount of bonds it could without lowering its credit rating.  From 1995 through 2000, the County will have spent a total of $144 million more on debt service than it will have raised through bond sales.

In addition to current-year debt service, the County owes over the next twenty years $1.5 billion in principal and $600 million in interest for the bonds it has already sold.  Annual debt service costs in the FY2000 budget are projected to be $110 million for principal and $75 million for interest.

The County does merit praise for its AAA bond rating, which results in lower interest rates.  Out of 26,000 local and state governments rated by Moody's, Standard and Poor's, and Fitch, only 28 localities are rated AAA by all three.

Nevertheless, the County is misusing bonds by selling them to cover annual expenses.  Each year the County sells the maximum amount of bonds it can without jeopardizing its credit rating.  It was inevitable then that debt service would exceed bond revenues, as is currently happening.

Of the $296.8 million, only $74 million or 25% is for new construction.  The rest is for school renovations, roof, boiler, air conditioner replacement, etc.  By contrast, the County pays for all of its building maintenance from the operating budget.

During  the past 15 years the cost of school renovations has increased 50%.  The school system has never justified this increase.

One driver for high renovation costs is the increasing demand for small classrooms for Special Education classes.  A significant portion of Special Education is the "Learning Disabled"  ("LD") program. A student is labeled "LD" if he reads or does math at a level well below  his expected capability as determined by testing.  There is considerable evidence that many "LD" students are not really "LD" at all but simply have not had phonics instruction in the regular classroom.  Presumably the cost of school renovations could be reduced if phonics instruction were allowed in the regular classroom.  This would reduce the demand for smaller classrooms.  However, the Democrat school board members have kept phonics out of the regular classroom despite many Republican attempts to introduce phonics.  The Democrats are showing an election-eve rhetorical conversion to phonics, but they still support non-phonics reading curricula.

Finally, the school board's bond resolution states that ". . . the County School board has determined that such public school property and improvements cannot be provided from current revenues Ö"  This statement is false.  The school board has not examined the cost effectiveness of its operating budget programs.  As indicated in another article in this newsletter, even though inflation-adjusted school spending per student has doubled since 1975, student achievement is mediocre.

The Fairfax County Taxpayers Alliance believes that school construction and renovation costs could be reduced and can be paid for from the school operating budget.  Therefore, voters are urged to vote NO on the November 2 school bond referendum.

The Fairfax County Taxpayers Alliance

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Fairfax County is Striking Out
By Perry H. Young

The Virginia General Assembly established the Virginia Baseball Stadium Authority in 1995.  It includes officials from the Loudoun and Fairfax County Boards of Supervisors, as well as leaders from the business community.  Since its inception, it has been studying the feasibility of building a stadium and bringing a Major League baseball team to Northern Virginia. A March, 1996  Fairfax Journal article states that Fairfax County officials have been contributing thousands of dollars and many hours of staff resources to the effort.  So much, in fact, that the stadium site selection committee recommended that they not be charged the same fee that was recommended to be charged to other counties that wanted to join the process later.  They must have spent at least the equivalent of that $150,000 fee to that point, and have continued to support the effort since then.  They could have saved our money.

For a close-to-home example of the fact that the public subsidy of a sports stadium is a poor investment, the Baseball Stadium Authority needs to have looked no further than the Baltimore Orioles, a team that recently had a state-of
-the-art facility built for them.  The Camden Yards stadium has been credited with revitalizing the economy of Baltimore, creating new jobs and attracting new business to the area.  But were the benefits worth the costs?

According to Bruce W. Hamilton and Peter Kahn's article, "Baltimore's Camden Yards Ballparks", included in the book
Sports, Jobs & Taxes: The Economic Impact of Sports Teams and Stadiums, edited by Roger G. Noll and Andrew Zimbalist, "the state of Maryland spends approximately $14 million a year to attract approximately $3 million a year in job-creation and tax-import benefits." Though Camden Yards routinely sells out, making a handsome profit for the team owners, Maryland taxpayers pay approximately $11 million a year order to keep the Orioles in town. That's in addition to whatever they actually spend at the ballpark.  The $14 million dollars a year are spent to service the debt on the $200 million cost of the stadium, while only $3 million dollars in additional tax revenue and new job benefits are generated for the state.  Although the economic impact of the Baltimore facility has been favorably compared to more dismal results around the country, in fact, the Camden Yards stadium also proves to be a poor public investment.

The legislation establishing the Virginia Baseball Stadium Authority grants them the power to raise money by selling bonds.  This proposed entertainment enterprise will apparently rely, at least in part, on the credit of a government entity rather than that of its owners.  In addition, Fairfax County officials are using staff time and effort to study this issue, rather than devoting them to the real problems of transportation and education faced by the county.

The interests of the citizens of Fairfax County will not be well served by subsidizing the building of a baseball stadium.  If Northern Virginia is, as claimed, the seventh largest market in the nation for professional sports, then private financing can certainly be secured to pay for recreational facilities such as sports stadiums.  Virginia should learn from experience across the nation, and Fairfax County should stop its campaign to secure a stadium for a major league baseball team.

The Fairfax County Taxpayers Alliance

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The Fairfax County Taxpayers Alliance 

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The Fairfax County Taxpayers Alliance


History Suggests That Increased Revenue From A Prosperous Economy Will Not Deter Supervisors From Raising Taxes in Post-Election Year

By Mark A. Collins, FCTA Second Vice-President

Taxpayer money is flooding into Fairfax County Government coffers. County revenues increased by 4.7 percent for fiscal year 1999, the best rate of growth since the 1991 recession.  Fiscal year 2000 revenues are expected to increase by another 5.6 percent.  In particular, real estate tax revenues are expected to increase by 6.0 percent in fiscal year 2000 due to automatic tax increases resulting from increased commercial property values and new development.  With this windfall in mind, the Board of Supervisors recently approved a $1.96 billion budget for fiscal year 2000.  Considering this rosy financial picture for Fairfax County Government, taxpayers should count on no additional tax increases for the foreseeable future, right?

Don't bet on it.

With Board of Supervisors elections scheduled for later this year, 2000 promises to be a perilous time for taxpayers.  Historically, every real estate tax rate increase since 1965 has occurred in a post-election year. The Board of Supervisors has raised the real estate tax rate in 50% of the post-election years since 1968 and those increases, when combined with increased assessments, have resulted in an average 9.3% increased tax bill for the average homeowner.

Moreover, recent history proves that a prosperous local economy and a solid balance sheet will not deter the Board of Supervisors from raising taxes in a post-election year.  In 1996, a majority of the supervisors voted for an unnecessary seven cent ($.07) per $100 valuation increase in the real estate tax to the current level of $1.23.  This increase resulted in a fiscal year 1997 budget surplus of $26 million. Did the Board of Supervisors return this windfall to the taxpayers?  Of course not.  It simply found new ways to spend the surplus, which has now disappeared
from the books.

The Board of Supervisors may be particularly emboldened to raise taxes in 2000 by the relative lack of opposition many supervisors face in this year's election.  Five out of nine of the District incumbents are running unopposed, and Chairman Katherine K. "Kate" Hanley faces no major party opposition.  Party officials gleefully attribute the lack of challengers to "voter satisfaction with the current board."  (Fairfax Journal, 6/11/99).  With this underlying confidence among the politicians, the risk is greater than ever that they will raise taxes once the election is over, beyond the automatic increase that results from rising property values.

The FCTA urges taxpayers not to give the Board of Supervisors

a "free pass" to raise real estate taxes in 2000.   The FCTA plans to survey the candidates and seek their commitment not to raise real estate taxes next year.  The FCTA will publish the results of this survey in its October newsletter, and through press releases to the local papers.  Taxpayers should consider the candidates' positions on this issue (or their refusal to take a position) before they automatically cast their vote for the incumbents.  The time to send a message to the Board of Supervisors and prevent a real estate tax increase is before the election, not after.

Otherwise, history is likely to repeat itself, at great cost to the taxpayers.

In This Issue . . .

Governor Gilmore Is Right!  Don't Raise Taxes for Roads p.1

Paul E. and Johna Good Gagnon are Running for Office  p.3

Vote No! on the School Bond Referendum  - Bonds Subsidize Mismanagement p.4

Fairfax County is Striking Out p.5

Visit FCTA's New Web Site p.5

A Letter to Governor Gilmore p.6

The Board of Supervisors will Raise Real Estate Taxes in 2000 p.8

Odds and Ends p.9

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The Fairfax County Taxpayers Alliance

Odds and Ends . . .

In the newsletter article "Fairfax County is Striking Out", Perry Young writes "A March, 1996  Fairfax Journal article states that Fairfax County officials have been contributing thousands of dollars and many hours of staff resources to the effort."  "They must have spent at least the equivalent of that $150,000 fee to that point, and have continued to support the effort since then.  They could have saved our money." 

To quote Larry Elder in "Houston, you've got a problem.", Jewish World Review, August 6, 1999, when it comes to public subsidies of sports stadiums, why would anyone expect . . . "taxpayers to subsidize billionaire owners to pay multimillionaire ballplayers, leaving the non-millionaire fans to foot the bill."


So far, the reports that the "government" plans to tax internet usage are unfounded.  From the "Liberator Online", Vol. 4. No. 15, we learn that the United Nations Development Program has proposed a tax on e-mail that would generate about $70 billion a year.  Apparently there is no limit to the number of people and organizations who think they have a right to some portion of our incomes.  How does local, state, federal, and world taxes sound? 


Do you ever wonder why it seems that, regardless of which party is currently in power, "things" just keep getting worse?  Harry Browne, the 1996 Libertarian Party presidential candidate, wrote an article entitled "The Republican betrayal - from A to Z", for "WorldNetDaily.com, Inc."  In this article, Browne assigns each of the letters of the alphabet to what he considers to be  Republican betrayals to the concept of smaller government.  Below are some examples:
B is for the Budgets that just keep getting bigger and bigger.
C is for Corporate welfare -- which expands and expands and expands.
D is for the Debt -- which gets larger and larger, despite supposed "surpluses."
E is for the Education and Energy Departments, which were supposed to be Eliminated, but have Expanded instead.
H is for HillaryCare - the health care takeover the Democrats couldn't pass all at once, but which the Republicans are passing one bill at a time.
J is for all the Judges that Clinton has nominated and the Republicans  have approved, even though the Judges don't support the Constitution.
N is for (what else?) the National Endowment for the Arts -- the Republicans' favorite fund-raising enemy, which of course they have enlarged, not eliminated.
P is for the Pay hike for congressmen, who don't seem to get paid enough for ruining our lives.


F. R. Duplantier, writing for "America's Future", quoted  Arkansas-based certified public accountant Kerry Kerstetter (www.TaxGuru.org). "Any doubts that government-controlled public schools are indoctrination centers for the youth of our country were dispelled by a recent television show about how ninth-grade students in Oakland, California are being educated on the tax system in this country ."  "Their quotes, when asked to describe the tax system, made it clear that the job is working."  ""IRS has a bad rap about being mean and cold-hearted,"" one proselyte parroted.  ""Taxes are good because they provide for good things, such as teachers,"" chimed in another.  ""Taxes are necessary to pay for social things," a third student regurgitated, " and anyone who wants to pay less is being mean, cold-hearted, and selfish.""   


Last year, only six percent of Fairfax County public schools (13 out of 202) met the state's new school accreditation requirements (which do not take effect until 2007). This year, only 20 percent of the schools (43 out of 202) met the accreditation requirements.  Fairfax School Superintendent Daniel A. Domenech believes that by 2007 only 60 to 70 percent of the schools will satisfy the accreditation standard.  >From "Governor Gilmore is Right! . . ."page 2.


According to an editorial in The Washington Post, "The Gridlock Is in Richmond", August 16, 1999, p. B6, the bipartisan Transportation Coordinating Council reports that in Northern Virginia . . . "$11 billion will be needed for (road) projects over the next 20 years.  Even after spending that much, the council says, most main roads would be as congested in 2020 as now; and some highways, such as Interstates 395 and 95 and Routes 50 and 123 would be worse."  Something to think about as you sit in construction traffic while driving into Wash. D.C.  for the next ten years. 


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The Fairfax County Taxpayers Alliance
P. O. Box 356
Fairfax, Va. 22030