A Fair Trade
I would like to comment on "Staying Competitive," by Meredith Murphree of Haymarket, in the Prince William Forum [on] March 30. First, I would like to admit that I am not familiar with the term Prince William County Employees Advisory Committee, but it appears to be a group of county employees elected by the rank-and-file county employees to speak for them in their best interest, much the same as the Fraternal Order Of Police. If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, chances are, regardless of what you call it -- it is a duck.
I am not anti-public employee, but in my opinion when your salary and benefits are paid for by the taxpayers, you have a special obligation to ensure a fair trade of goods and services for a livable wage, especially when the citizens in your county are among the highest-taxed in Virginia.
I would ask whether the county is having recruitment problems. or do we have a surplus of qualified candidates for the various county positions? It appears, based on my knowledge (limited), that we are not experiencing any lack of qualified candidates for available county positions in any aspect needed to administer the county business.
In reference to the term "topped out," which I assume means an employee who has been in his or her position for a fairly long time, here again, I would assume that this could mean that they are comfortable in their employment situation. If you don't feel entitled to go after the life you want -- you're destined to keep the one you have. Unfortunately, life is a trade-off. If you have stable employment, no ups or downs due to the market conditions, then you may not get as compensated as you feel you deserve. This is a personal choice usually made early in one's working life, to work public or private. Each has their respective advantages and disadvantages.
Please don't misconstrue this letter as being anti-anything but taxes. I have lived in Prince William County for the better part of 20 years and have seen it go from an excellent place to live and raise a family to a nice place to live and raise a family. This downturn in living conditions, in my opinion, is strictly due to overcrowding and all that accompanies it. I attribute the blame squarely on the shoulders of the seven members of the Board of County Supervisors.
No Time to Raise Taxes
Some county supervisors seem intent on raising our property tax bills by as much as they can without being accused of "double-digit increases." After last year's double-digit increase, they are sensitive on that point and only seek to raise your taxes and mine by an average of 9.3 percent, or $218.
That is a tax increase that far outstrips the increase in income of the average resident. Chairman Sean T. Connaughton and his allies would force us to make cuts in our household budgets to fund their unlimited appetite for increased county spending. They would raise the taxes of those of us whose pay grew by less than 4 percent so they can give county employees a 6.5 percent raise on top of last year's 7 percent raise.
The Prince William Taxpayers' Alliance urges citizens to contact their supervisors and urge him or her to vote against any tax rate higher than $1.10. A rate of $1.07 will yield the county the same revenue as was collected last year. A rate of $1.10 is more than adequate to offset the effects of inflation and population growth on the cost of county government.
We also urge citizens to vote for those candidates for county supervisor who will pledge not to continue raising property taxes faster than the rate of inflation and population growth. So far only two candidates seeking Republican nominations this spring have agreed to limit government to its current share of your paycheck: Ask the other candidates why they want to reserve the right to raise property taxes more than that. In most cases, the answer will be that they are under tremendous pressure from Chairman Connaughton not to take any pledge that would prevent the county budget from growing by 50 percent again in the next four years, as it did in the last four under his leadership.
The economy is weak, and many of our residents are out of jobs or working fewer hours than usual. This is no time to be raising taxes. I am happy that my home has grown in value, but I don't want to take out a second mortgage to pay my growing tax bill. Mr. Connaughton, my house doesn't pay my taxes. I pay my taxes from my paycheck. The 40 percent of my paycheck taken by all levels of government is plenty. Don't take more. Keep your hands out of my pocket.
Member, Executive Committee, Prince William