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Citizens Disappointed with Advertised Rate

| February 27, 2014 | 0 Comments | News

The Board Chambers were packed as well as the lobby, and people even gathered on the second floor.

Citizens who attended the meeting Tuesday evening said they were ultimately disappointed in the advertised tax rate of 1.158 for every $100 of assessed value, although they admitted it could have been worse.

The “advertised tax rate,” is simply the suggested tax rate. Once advertised, it cannot be raised, but it can always be lowered.

The hundreds of people who advocated for the flat tax to support schools, safety, human services, transportation, arts and sports knew that last year’s tax rate could set the path for a 7.5 percent tax increase but advocated for it nonetheless.

Many understand that the actual tax rate would be reduced, but also thought a high tax rate created more flexibility for the supervisors to work with.

But, ultimately, that 1.181 tax rate was not approved.

The new advertised tax rate of 1.158 would yield an approximate 5.4 percent tax increase over last year’s bill should it be adopted. It would also produce an added $32 million in revenue for the county.

Some citizens felt that was not enough, because if the supervisors started out at 1.158 percent, surely they would decrease the rate before adopting it. Citizens commented that Prince William had dug itself into a hole and would have trouble digging itself out.

“We just keep kicking the can down the road, and then all of a sudden we’re in dire straits,” citizen Michael Bizik said.

Bizik thought that county tax increases would be worth their cost. If the 2.5 percent increases only averaged to $83 per family, than twice that would not be so bad.

President of the Prince William Education Association (PWEA), Jim Livingston was disappointed the tax rate was not advertised higher.

“I think the kids lost tonight,” Livingston said.

Livingston advocates for lower class sizes but added that teacher pay increases should not be forgotten, because competitive pay is crucial to teacher retention.

School Board members Lillie Jessie of the Occoquan District and Betty Covington of the Potomac District said they were glad they stayed for the entire meeting. They figured it made it more difficult for the supervisors to blame the School Board or simply ignore the needs of the school division.

“I was disappointed with all the fighting. It seems so political to me,” said Jessie. “These teachers ought to get what they came for. They talked about the kids. They didn’t talk about salaries.”

She said she was also disappointed the supervisors did not take the time to acknowledge the community members’ requests, saying, “At the end, nothing was said.” She also agreed with Livingston that salary increases are as important as are funds for professional development, even as curriculum standards evolve and change.

Betty Covington said she was also disappointed from the advertised tax rate, but was pleased that it at least it was not adopted at 1.155 or lower.

While that was the sentiment last night, today on social media citizens in the county seem to be split on whether to adopt the advertised rate, or to choose a rate that would yield a smaller tax increase.

© 2014, Bristow Beat. All rights reserved.

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