The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors proposed yesterday cutting the county's telephone tax, a move that would shave about $1.10 off the average resident's monthly phone bill.
The tax reduction proposal was prompted by angry protests from county residents over the rising costs of telephone service that have followed the split-up of the American Telephone and Telegraph Co.
"Rates all over the country are increasing," said Springfield Supervisor Elaine McConnell, a Republican. "It's becoming more and more unfair to the constituents. This way, the average homeowner will have some reduction."
The proposed reduction would cost the county about $3.2 million a year in tax revenue -- about one-fifth of the total revenues the county receives from its telephone tax.
If imposed after a Nov. 19 public hearing, the proposed reduction would eliminate the telephone utility tax for the first $5 of each resident's monthly phone bill.
Supervisors proposed making the reduction effective March 1.
Some county supervisors argued that the county government could afford to give residents an even bigger break on their utility bills.
Annandale Supervisor Audrey Moore, a Democrat, proposed earlier this year a two-thirds reduction in the county's telephone utility tax, saying that the county was unfairly benefiting by the rising utility rates.
Board members said they would impose the reduction on the base cost of telephone service to provide more savings to lower-income residents.
Supervisors originally had suggested giving tax breaks to the customers with the highest telephone bills.
"That would mean you would be taking the people with all the bells and whistles on their phones and giving it to them tax-free," said Thomas M. Davis III, a Republican representing the Mason District.
The board also voted yesterday to consider revamping its personnel policies to curtail employe "double-dipping," in which workers receive full retirement benefits from one county job while holding a second county position.
The board agreed, at Moore's urging, to hold a hearing Nov. 19 in reaction to the controversy over the $157,000-a-year, four-year contract promised to School Superintendent William J. Burkholder by School Board members.
The contract was to compensate him for the retirement benefits he would lose by remaining in the superintendency job instead of taking early retirement benefits.
Burkholder announced he would retire next summer after the controversy flared.
The board retreated yesterday from its plans to sue a citizen activist group for raising questions over potentially dangerous chemicals they said were beneath the Manchester Lakes housing development in Springfield.
County Attorney David Stitt told the board he could find no "legal basis" for suing the Citizens Clearinghouse for Hazardous Waste Inc., despite the supervisors' vote to sue the group.
Although board members deferred to Stitt's advice, Lee District Supervisor Joseph Alexander said: "I'm not enthused at the recommendation of the county attorney. These people are irresponsible and will continue to be that way unless we take them to task."