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2003-12-11 Supervisors announce post-election tax hike

Kept it a secret before the Supervisors' election

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors took advantage yesterday of a meeting with state legislators to announce their post-election budget crisis and tax hike. Fairfax residents can once again look forward to higher real estate, meals, and cigarette taxes. Fairfax hotels and motels may be hit with higher hotel taxes. The County Executive is threatening program cuts. At the state level taxpayers can look forward to higher sales taxes and, for many, higher income taxes.

This repeats what happened after the 1995 and 1999 Supervisor and School Board elections. One week after the 1995 elections, the school superintendent announced a school budget crisis, which precipitated a tax hike. One month after the 1999 elections, the school superintendent again announced another budget crisis, which precipitated yet another tax hike.

Arthur G. Purves, president of the Fairfax County Taxpayers Alliance, accused the Supervisors of concealing their budget crisis and tax hike until after the election, a strategy also followed by Virginia Governor Mark R. Warner in announcing his $1 billion tax hike.

Mr. Purves, who had also run for the Fairfax County School Board seat from Hunter Mill District last month, had written letters to both the County Executive and the Superintendent of Schools, asking them to declare before the election if there would be a need for a tax hike or program cuts.

The County Executive's office emailed Mr. Purves three responses, none of which answered his questions. The Superintendent of Schools did not respond at all to Mr. Purves' letter. Mr. Purves stated, "Once again our County leadership deliberately misled the voters and taxpayers by concealing during the Supervisors and School Board election campaign its intention to proclaim a budget crisis and tax hike after the election."

Mr. Purves blames most of the budget crisis on the school system, whose staff has been increasing twice as fast as enrollment. "We have no accountability for soaring public-school spending," Mr. Purves stated. "We are paying for ineffective new programs, expensive supplemental programs, remedial programs made necessary by the schools' flawed curriculum, an over-investment in computers, and excessive administration. Moreover, while the school system gold-plates its programs it neglects school renovation and construction."