When the idea was proposed a bit more than two years ago, some members of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors greeted it with skepticism, and county finance officials were somewhat pessimistic.

But the stepped-up program to nab deadbeat taxpayers seems to have paid off handsomely.

Originally, the county estimated that the program might bring in $2.25 million in taxes over the first two years through tougher audits, agressive collection and efforts to find businesses that were not registered in the county or were understating income.

Some were suspicious that the tax enforcement program, modeled on one in Arlington, was a political ploy by Supervisor Thomas M. Davis III (R-Mason), and that it would never amount to much.

But Davis saw a "gold mine for the county," and so far it has brought in almost $13.7 million -- more than $12 million of it in the first two years.

Recent figures show that $1.6 million in additional taxes were collected in the first two years as a result ofs progress, the county staff has conducted 151 audits of businesses to determine whether they were paying enough.

An additional $2.2 million was collected from new businesses found operating in the county.

But the bonanza came in collection of delinquent taxes. The county expected to collect $250,000. When all the arm-twisting, litigation and other forms of persuasion were over, Fairfax found itself $8.4 million richer.

"I'm hearing that the staff is perhaps too agressive in collecting some taxes," Davis said. "Some businesses have been hit in a way we didn't intend in terms of how their gross receipts were figured. But a lot of this is from finding new businesses we didn't know about . . . . This was a program that was long overdue."