From the fine folks at the Manassas Tea Party:
Defying not only the recommendations of its own Manassas City Manager but also the pleas of hundreds of taxpayers, the Manassas City Council proposed a massive 10.4% tax bill increase for FY14. This huge hike is attributed to four City Council members seeking to hyper accelerate the City Manager’s five year plan of small incremental tax increases for the Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) into one year.
In the weeks leading up to the Council’s April 3 vote a large number of city taxpayers communicated with the Council by email, by phone, in person during Citizens’ Time, and at the March 18th CIP Public Hearing supportive of infrastructure improvements, but strongly urging investing in the city with minimal tax impact. Then, representing only a small sampling of city taxpayers, but consolidating their voices into one, the Manassas Tea Party on Mon-day, April 1 presented to the Mayor and City Council a petition signed by over 200 city citizens which indicated:
“We the undersigned citizens/property owners of the City of Manassas, Virginia, in this climate of economic uncertainty, rising federal and state taxes, high unemployment and increasing cost of goods, are opposed to increased property taxes in the city”.
In subsequent sessions the ever-mindful-of-the-taxpayer-Council removed a few of the 106 projects, eliminating several small CIP neighborhood projects and deferred to future years only two other projects. “So little was done to find more affordable alternatives, or identify projects that could either be deferred or funded without additional burdens to the taxpayers,” Manassas Tea Party Chairman Dan Arnold indicated.
With a common mantra that infrastructure improvements have been put off too long and taxpayers would just have to “bite the bullet” a majority of the Council disregarded the petitions and cries of hundreds of overtaxed citizens to propose a 10.4% tax bill increase. They voted not only for a tax bill in-crease, but one that approved taxing residents for the entire CIP in the first year, rather than over a five year span. “When Council had alternatives that could still fund CIP projects, yet significantly lessen the tax bill impact, it’s hard to believe they were really looking out for the taxpayer,” Dan Arnold said.
Arnold further stated: “Many city residents I have spoken to are truly struggling to get by from month to month and want to see council live within its means. Everyone supports essential city infrastructure improvements, but the timing of massively raising taxes now could not be worse”.
Recent statistics bears out Arnold’s impressions. According to the 2012 Census, Manassas City has the highest number of residents below the poverty level at 13.8% as compared to surrounding areas of Manassas Park and Prince William County. Furthermore, examining the Median Household Income and Median Property Tax Paid, city residents already pay the highest percent of income to property taxes compared to these same areas.
Adding insult to injury for the taxpayer is that with the front-loaded CIP tax hike, more funds will be initially collected than Manassas can possibly spend on CIP projects. This is due to major construction projects like a new Baldwin School requiring a year in design and contracting before construction can begin. So excessive funds demanded by the city will be unused initially, and could have been instead collected in the second year or even later.
What’s more, the high initial tax rate adds unnecessary risk. The CIP plan assumes city population will grow by .5%/yr. But historically large tax in-creases in cities causes flight of current residents, and new citizens to avoid moving in. Unable to then pay their bond loans due to insufficient revenue, a city finds itself struggling with debt that can lead to lower bond ratings and even bankruptcy. Such is the case with Stockton, CA, and Scranton, PA.
Dan Arnold summarized by saying: “Our citizens deserve better consideration. As the voice of the taxpayer the Manassas Tea Party demands the City Council reexamine their FY14 budget proposal, giving greater attention to taxpayer concerns.”
The Manassas Tea Party is a non-profit organization of hundreds of freedom-loving Virginians in Manassas and the greater Manassas area whose mission is to promote a return to constitutional principles and the restoration of the vision of America’s founders at the local, state and federal level. The Manassas Tea Party is a member of the Federation of Virginia Tea Party Patriots.
UPDATE: Some interesting discussion on this is happening over on Manassas Open Forum. Check it out.
The opinions expressed here are solely the views of the author, and not representative of the position of any organization, political party, doughnut shop, knitting guild, or waste recycling facility, but may be correctly attributed to the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy. If anything in the above article has offended you, please click here to receive an immediate apology.
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