The Jan. 16 Metro article “Fairfax to take control of hobbled Lorton arts center” contained a revealing statement from one of the county supervisors who decided to stick taxpayers with the legacy of a failed venture: “The worst thing we can do at this point in time is let the Lorton arts center fall down after we invested $16 million in it.”
That is applying a Vietnam War mind-set to the arts. Irretrievable or “sunk” costs are irrelevant to forward-looking decisions. The worst thing to do would be to fail to face failure and refuse to cut losses.
Unless the supervisors have a brilliant business plan to make the Workhouse Arts Center self-sustaining — which I strongly doubt — taking on $30 million in arts-foundation debt owed to a bank will not bring back the $16 million already spent; it will add to public debt while only postponing the day of demise.
I have enjoyed several visits to the Lorton arts center, and I wish it were more popular. But I also pay taxes to Fairfax County, and I suggest that putting taxpayers further in debt to bail out a non-governmental entity’s pet cause is a peculiar way to avoid embarrassment and sets a poor precedent.
Clark T. Irwin, Fairfax
There was a glaring contradiction between articles related to Fairfax County finances on adjacent pages of the Jan. 16 Metro section. The article “Bulova: Fairfax faces difficult budget choices” reported that Board of Supervisors Chairman Sharon Bulova said “it won’t be easy” for the county to close a projected budget shortfall of $25 million. But in “Fairfax to take control of hobbled Lorton arts center,” we learned that the Fairfax Board of Supervisors agreed to assume $30 million of debt owed by a local nonprofit to avoid an “embarrassing foreclosure.” This after the county already pumped $16 million of taxpayer money into this black hole.
Earth to Ms. Bulova and her cohorts on the board: Taking on $30 million in unnecessary debt is only going to make your budget problems worse.
Ed Linz, Springfield
Regarding the Jan. 20 editorial “Paying for schools in Fairfax”:
Fairfax Schools Superintendent Karen Garza wants to cut hundreds of staff positions and provide a salary increase for everyone else. Assuming a relationship exists between the number of teachers and instructional effectiveness, this is very harmful to students. Why not use funds to continue employing teachers and use what money remains for a salary increase? By the way, what do students get out of a $41 million expenditure for increased salaries?
Allan Butler, Westminster, Md.