Letters to the Editor: October 27 – November 2, 2016
Spending Has Merit, But Must Be Done Responsibly
Bob LaJeunesse made some good points in his guest commentary last week, such as extending borrowing durations, use of the rainy day fund, and taking advantage of low interest rates to fund capital improvements rather than be forced to accept paying higher rates when said construction becomes necessary. However, going on a spending spree simply because we have the money today is irresponsible at best. Using the water assets to shore up the city’s pension fund is fair to question, but one need only look at the various California municipalities facing bankruptcy under the weight of unfunded liabilities to recognize the folly of not addressing these issues when Falls Church has the ability to do so.
Spending today has its merits, but not doing so in a responsible manner leads to facing the pain of unfunded liabilities, or as I like to call them, tomorrow’s tax increases on today’s children.
Fairfax Co. Meals Tax Will Help Our Schools
Fairfax County voters have a critical decision to make on Election Day about future funding for our stellar school system. I urge voters to vote “yes” on the 4 percent Meals Tax to help keep our school system great.
Our top-notch schools are a prime reason people and businesses move to Fairfax County. The quality of schools affect all of us, both because our future relies on an educated citizenry and because great schools keep property values high.
Here are some other reasons to keep in mind when considering your vote:
• About 28 percent of any meals tax will be paid by tourists, visitors, commuters and other non-Fairfax County residents, unlike property taxes.
• 100 percent of the meals tax will stay in Fairfax Co., unlike state taxes.
• A meals tax will diversify our revenue sources and take pressure off property taxes.
• Of about $99 million from a meals tax, 70 percent will be dedicated to the school system and 30 percent to critical county needs such as public safety.
• The school system is working hard to recover from a recession that required deep cuts, freezing pay and raising class sizes even as our student numbers and uncontrollable costs soared.
• If the meals tax passes, the school board has committed to using the bulk of the proceeds to raise teacher pay, a critical investment after years of stagnation that put us behind surrounding jurisdictions.
If you eat at a restaurant in D.C., you pay a 10 percent meals tax. If you go to Old Town Alexandria, or Clarendon, Shirlington or Pentagon Row in Arlington for dinner, you pay a 4 percent meals tax. Why would we let neighboring jurisdictions raise millions of dollars, including from Fairfax County residents, without charging their residents when they come here for a restaurant meal?
Nobody likes taxes of any kind, but the services we expect in Fairfax County cost money. Isn’t it worth paying an extra 40 cents on a $10 restaurant meal to maintain our vibrant community, especially our great teachers and great schools?
Fairfax Co. School Board Chair
Community Should Support Library Referendum
The Mary Riley Styles Library is one of the exceptional things about Falls Church that today’s residents owe to the foresight of past generations. But like any institution, it will decline without timely investments. The November 8 library referendum will provide the funds critically needed now to cover past-due maintenance and add space to meet growing service demands.
As a member of the Library Board of Trustees for over ten years, I understand the devotion that many people in Falls Church have for the library and the outstanding services it provides. When I first joined the board, I was disappointed to learn that the physical condition of the building was declining and space for services and programs was inadequate.
Since then, two major studies have documented the desperate need to upgrade the facility and add space. After much discussion, the board and City leaders defined a modest, affordable project that upgrades essential systems and provides a much needed increase in floor space.
Through this process, the board recognized the overwhelming benefits of the existing site and the public’s interest in improving the existing building rather than relocating to another site. The board specifically opposed suggestions to move the library to a private development for many reasons, including the high cost.
For a community that loves its library, supporting this referendum should be a simple decision.
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