Today’s edition of the MJM discusses the candidacy of Peter Farrell for the Manassas Park Governing Board, and throws out an interesting campaign issue that would seem to merit just the drive-by reference it received. This election in Manassas Park should focus on financial issues and in particular that sordid game of real estate assessment fraud that currently props up the city’s spending plans. Hopefully as the election draws nearer, the candidates will force the local media to discuss this issue.
“They have to be honest and realistic with their methods of raising that money,” Farrell said of the city. “You can’t tell someone their house is worth $260,000 when they know it’s worth $110,000 and make them feel better.”
Farrell is absolutely right here, and I’ve spoken with the Republican candidate Brian Leeper and he is equally concerned. In order to protect city tax revenue and keep the tax rate from exploding to an utterly ridiculous percentage, the assessments in Manassas Park have been artificially inflated over the past several years. In 2007 tax assessments remained flat while residential sale prices plummeted, and in 2008 the decrease in assessments nowhere near matches the decline in prices. Yet still the tax rate in Manassas Park is more than 20% higher than Prince William County and Manassas City, even as the city continues their spending spree.
It’s just about impossible to attribute this scheme to non-nefarious causes. There clearly has been an effort to defraud the residents of Manassas Park, and absent evidence of behavior that criminal violations of the law have occurred the only alternative is to render a verdict at the polls. Hopefully Farrell, Leeper and Naddoni will have an opportunity to do something about this ongoing fraud and abuse in Manassas Park.
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