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Manassas Legislative Priorities

By Greg L | 28 November 2006 | Manassas City | 14 Comments

Last night at the Manassas City Council Meeting a statement on legislative priorities was reviewed that included the following:

Local Revenue Capacity - that if the General Assembly removes or reduces any revenues from one source, they have to be made up from somewhere else in order to keep funding levels consistent.

Machinery and Tools Tax - that if the M&T tax is phased out, the $4.5 million the city receives from it would have to be made up from somewhere else.

Schools Funding - correct the Sales Tax estimate for school funding for FY2008.

Transportation - The city needs more revenue from the State Transportation Revenue Sharing program, and legislation regulating driver behavior at crosswalks.

Regional Transportation Positions - the city supports the Northern Virginia 2020 Transportation Plan and needs dedicated and reliable transportation funding.

Environmental Surcharges - the city is opposed to surcharges on utilities services.

Mayor’s Vote on Council - the city supports legislation authorizing the Mayor to vote in the City Council.

Manassas Museum Expansion - The city wants a half-million dollar grant or earmark for the Manasssas Museum.

I had no idea that Democrats had such influence over the Manassas City Council. This document embraces Jeanette Rishell’s demand for a dedicated revenue source for transportation funding (essentially calling for new taxes), endorses Senator Colgan’s non-state entity earmarks from the 2006 legislative session and calles for even more, and whines about the effect of repealing a tax on idle capital equipment which isn’t producing revenue anyways. This is substantially the platform of the Democratic party, who apparently doesn’t need representation on the Manassas City Council in order to advance their agenda.

What’s missing from these legislative priorities is similarly disturbing. Has the city somehow solved the illegal immigration problem in Manassas with the passage of a single resolution? Why is there no appeal for assistance from the state in dealing with the impact of illegal aliens in our overburdened public schools, by our public safety personnel, or in our hospitals? Certainly the city council realizes that illegal immigration is at least as important as whether motorists are required to stop at crosswalks when the speed llimit is less than 35 miles per hour, or whether the Mayor has the opportunity to record a vote when that vote would not change the outcome of a council decision. Is this a “declare victory and go home” moment for the council?

These draft legislative priorities are a huge disappointment. Understandably this was crafted by City Manager Larry Hughes, who apparently has a very different vision for the City of Manassas than the council. To allow a document such as this to initially frame the discussion for the council would seem indicative of an unwarranted degree of latitude afforded to city staff. The city council should discard this draft and start over with priorities that more adequately reflect the concerns of city residents, as this document is spectacularly inadequate.

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  1. Andy H said on 28 Nov 2006 at 1:43 pm:
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    I’m not prepared to say a lot about what I do or don’t like about the legislative priorities but I will say that I’m right there with BVBL where the immigration issue is concerned. I don’t understand why we are wasting brain cycles on things that don’t matter much when the biggest issue facing the city is MIA.

    I will point out that the “Local Revenue Capacity” item seems innocuous enough but it is a huge deal. My understanding of this is that when localities impose a tax like the stupid cell phone tax and it doesn’t stir the citizens to open rebellion, the state will make localities remit that money to Richmond to be “redistributed”. This is decidedly not a republican notion and penalizes municipalities that have citizens that can afford such things.

  2. Greg L said on 28 Nov 2006 at 2:35 pm:
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    So that in effect discourages localities from nickel-and-diming the citizenry with annoying little taxes tacked onto the products and services they use. The last thing I want to see is yet another line item on my phone bill, trash removal bill, or charged when I visit the barber, automotive maintenance service or neighborhood lemonade stand.

    I can just imagine the nuisances which would ensue if this were any easier.

  3. Andy H said on 28 Nov 2006 at 4:02 pm:
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    Not at all. The tax doesn’t go away! The municipality continues to collect it but the money then goes to Richmond instead of being spent in your home town.

  4. RHarrison said on 28 Nov 2006 at 4:14 pm:
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    I, diplomatically, agree with Andy and Greg. Little local taxes are annoying and should be avoided. However, local municipalities should have the right to levy them without the state seizing the proceeds. If local politicians think their jurisdictions need more money, they ought to have the ability to raise taxes. Local communities ought to be smart enough to decide what their own tax burden should be, and ought to be able to raise that burden if they wish. If they chose to do so, Richmond has no right to the money.

    Political power should be vested as close to the people as possible. If a local community decides to raise its own taxes, that is a decision the local community should be empowered to make. The state should not be involved.

  5. Citizenofmanassas said on 28 Nov 2006 at 9:16 pm:
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    Recall it was Mr. Hughes who came up with the suggestion of 11 new positions for the City during the budget debate last year. Fast forward to yesterday when the City floated an increase in the real estate tax rate of two cents due to the down turn in assissment. Of course this is yet another tax increase the tax payers of the City has had to put up with for the last few years.

    What do you think the tax rate would be if Mr. Hughes was successful in gaining all 11 positions? So, is it really a surprise to see such none sense from him last night?

    While I like Mr. Hughes as a person, and he has been helpful to me, I disagree with most of what he submitted.

  6. AndyH said on 28 Nov 2006 at 11:16 pm:
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    Even with a 2 cent increase, your average taxpayer is getting a tax cut on their real estate tax bill. I think it’s around $50 on average. I know it ain’t much but last year the overall budget increased around 9%. This year we’re holding departmental increases to around 2.5% It may end up being closer to 0 as that 2.5% depends on real estate going down only 4% and I believe that to be optimistic.

    Believe me when I say I understand your frustration and that we are trying to be smart with your money.

  7. Citizenofmanassas said on 28 Nov 2006 at 11:26 pm:
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    I will believe the tax cut when I get my tax bill, not saying what you say is wrong, but given the recent history…..

    Can’t wait to hear the screaming and teeth mashing from the school board and the teachers when the real budget talks start. A fun time should be had by all.

  8. AndyH said on 28 Nov 2006 at 11:59 pm:
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    I accept your skepticism. I don’t hold it against you or anyone else given recent history. It will be tough but I hope I can prove you wrong!

    The gnashing of teeth has already begun…..I do, however, hope we can reach a reasonable accord with the schools.

  9. Maureen Wood said on 29 Nov 2006 at 8:56 am:
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    The legislative package needs to include pressuring the Federal Government to fully fund the ESOL programs. If they are not willing to take care of our illegal immigration problems then they need to pay for them. Localities can no longer absorb the cost of these illegals. This is where the majority of our money is going. It isn’t fair for the average American to pay for services for people that shouldn’t be here in the first place!

  10. Citizenofmanassas said on 29 Nov 2006 at 9:30 am:
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    Better yet, get rid of the ESOL programs all together. Put all students in the same class and let the kids sink or swim. Why should students that do not speak English receive more resources? Every student has to learn to speak and write English the right way, and every student should learn it the same way. ESOL programs are a waste of time and money.

    I had the chance to visit a City school not too long ago and found many posters on the walls were duplicated, one in English, one in Spanish. When you hear the school board say they have cut out all the “fat” from their budget, and now will have to cut out “lean meat” from it, how does that match up with those posters and other expenditures that are not so obvious.

  11. Citizenofmanassas said on 29 Nov 2006 at 9:31 am:
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    We will see. I also want to to thank you for contributing to the blog, it would be nice to see other council members contribute too.

  12. Andy H said on 29 Nov 2006 at 2:31 pm:
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    What really burns me up about ESL programs isn’t so much the programs but the way that the Feds have completely jacked localities with the cost of a Federal mandate.

    When the program started out in the 60’s (!) the legislation required that if the feds required a jurisdicition to offer ESL, the feds had to pay for it. The program went through several legislative changes over the course of about 8-10 years until it finally ended up that it was mandated but not paid for by Uncle Sam.

    If UncSam wants us to do something so badly then he needs to pony up the bucks. Uncle has balanced his budget on our backs long enough. The dems being in control now won’t help but the R’s weren’t the model of fiscal restraint either.

  13. Citizenofmanassas said on 29 Nov 2006 at 3:13 pm:
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    So, up until the 1960’s immigrant students were learning English right along side Native Americans? Figures.

  14. AndyH said on 29 Nov 2006 at 10:18 pm:
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    Two immigration/ice priorities have been added to the legislative priorities. Final language should be available on Friday.

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