The News and Messenger is reporting tough times in PWC this morning as County Executive Craig Gerhart tries to figure out ways to preserve jobs and meet county budget all at the same time. Some of the options county employees face are working a day without pay, cutting back on holidays or facing a general salary cut or being sent home and taking a day off without pay. None of the options are pleasant to face.

 In his presentation to the BOCS yesterday, Gerhart outlined ways to retain current county personnel and meet the budget constraints. Even with an increased tax rate of $1.13, up from $.98 homeowners are expected to pay less in taxes because of decreased home values. Less in taxes translates into more budget shortfall. PWC has been the hardest hit jurisdiction in the area with foreclosures.

 Neabsco Supervisor John Jenkins asked about the feasibility of freezing salaries of the higher paid county employees. That too will be examined. It appears that public safety departments are the only places there will not be drastic budget reductions.

 Things certainly have a different look than say a year ago, when we had citizens directing the county to raise their taxes to enforce the Immigration Resolution. But, in the words of that immortal wise sage Bob Dylan, we were so much older then…….

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rUo0nam_QwQ

 Lyrics:

http://www.bobdylan.com/#/songs/my-back-pages

49 thoughts on “County Scrambles to Preserve Jobs

  1. Unintended Consequences

    So why don’t Greg and Corey pony up since they kept talking about how much savings there would be once the illegals were all run off?

    Savings? I don’t see any savings.

  2. ShellyB

    I have to admit at one time I believed the “savings” Greg and Corey were talking about would come. Come to find out, they were just trying to get rid of people who looked like they were from another country. As for the saving, they were just blowing smoke up the you-know-what about ESL figures, and for some reason equating illegal immigration with this program. When the numbers of ESL students went up instead of down, well, that’s where the smoke disappeared and we can see clearly now but the rain is not gone.

    Also, they used to talk about county services way back when. Turned out, there were no “illegals” using county services, so the only purpose for getting everyone enraged about that was, well, to get everyone enraged about that.

    Those people who look like they come from another country? I don’t know how many of them were undocumented. But for whatever reason a lot of them left and took their small businesses with them. And those American Dreams they were forced to abandon (homes they were working hard to pay off)? Well it didn’t help our property values that we became the leading county for foreclosure rate in all of Virginia by a factor of four.

    I don’t expect Greg and Corey to “pony up.” I expect them to do what G. W. Bush has done. Deny it as long as you can, then shrug and relinquish power.

  3. ShellyB

    Oh, let’s not let John Stirrup off the hook. Two weeks ago we were discussing whether he might be more to blame than Corey Stewart!

  4. michael

    Lets talk about historical cause and effect before we assign “arbitrary” cause and effect to those some of you hate so much as a blame for why we are likely going to lay off county workers and experience another depression as people lose jobs in the next 2-3 years. “Hatred” by the way is not a virtue.

    1. Fact: American population growth has achieved 306 million people: World population growth has achieved approximately 6 billion people (1.3 billion in China, 1.2 billion in India).
    Cause: Increased birth rates and larger family sizes from primarily “poor and low income” families, primarily in America by families whose “religions” forbid birth control (another argument to be held later, revealing why this is not a scriptural mandate from a Christian perspective.)
    Effect: rapid growth rates out of control in the last 25 years to a level that increases rather then decreases poverty. There are not enough jobs for all the “new-born” people who want one.
    2. Fact: An American housing demand bubble was created around 2000-2007.
    Cause: Significant and out of control population increase as a result of increased and out of control “illegal alien” population growth in the US, primarily from “poor and low income” families, rapid increase in birth rates from families whose “religions” probibited birth control, and primarily from a rapid influx of “illegal” immigration from the years 1975-2007, a pardon by president Reagan for some 10 million “illegal” immigrants in 1986, which caused an even larger “illegal influx” of some 25 million “illegal” people into the country during the years 1987-2007. With some 35 million “illegal” immigrants achieving “green card status” within 10 years of their illegal entry, and another 12-15 million more “illegals” currently in the country, the combined total number of once “illegal” and currently “illegal” people contributing to an out of control population growth is approximately 50 million additional people in the country since 1975, spread across a significant number of races, religions, genders and ethnicities.
    Effect: People with “green cards”, new citizenship status, and people who were willing to lie about ability to pay on mortgage applications primarily from the low income and poor populations, and others “currently illegal” able to obtain “legal status” from testimonial stand-ins as validation references on mortgage applications were able to obtain Adjustible Rate Mortgages (ARMs) on the sub-prime market, and to obtain a new home after being in the country 5, 10 and even 25 years. These mortgages were obtained with significantly higher risk, but recorded as reasonable risk loans, efectively fooling the banking and investment banking industries to buy medium risk investments that were actually extremely high risk investments that did not reflect premiums consistant with such high risk.
    3. Fact: A number of new laws were passed, and policies created to enable low income and first time home buyers to obtain extremely high risk mortages on the promise that the housing bubble would continue to rise and they could not fail to profit on a rapid re-sale of a home at any time of decreased funding or decreased income crisis.
    Cause: People from the above populaton segments who entered political positions, maintaining their racial and ethnic preferences and biases were able to convince liberal and socially sympathetic people in positions of social, banking and housing industry oversight to promote policies and laws making it extremely easy for people in the above population categories to obtain high rish home loans without paying for the premiums associated with such high risk.
    Effect: People in the above populations were convinced to buy homes they could not afford, and did not fear failure or loss of ethics would cause them to lose their home or enter bankruptcy as they were convinced they would not be caught, they did not have to follow law, there would be no consequence of breaking law and they could walk away from a bancruptcy at any time without fear, failure or consequence and with a profit from a bubble market sale if their personal income situation forced a quick sale of their home.
    Fact: The housing bubble collapsed sometime in 2007
    Cause: Sellers outbumber buyers as all who could buy high risk mortgages bought high risk mortgages. Sanity crept back into the housing and lending industry to make lower risk loans more affordable. The federal oversight organizations kept reducing the cost of loans to attract new buyers, until seller outnumbers buyers. Developers built more homes by a significant margin as a result of the population bubble demand until there were more homes than buyers and more sellers than buyers.
    Effect: The rising price of homes peaked in 2007, sellers who needed to sell their homes in 2007-2008 could not sell them except at a declining price. Interest rates went up rather than down as demand for loans slowed, the federal funds rates went up as banks realized they had risky potgages they were holding, the ARMS went up as a result of the federal funds rates increases. Homeowners with ARMS found their monthly interest payments increase significantly beyond their low income means to pay, while the values of their homes inverted below what they owed. Most low income homeowners in these population segments, had no community ties, no laws governing them, no consequences for leaving, and no ethics or obligation to pay their mortgage, and walked away, leaving the community and banks to absorbed the loss in huge numbers.
    Fact: PWC BOD and most of the nation in 2008 decided that “illegal” immigrants and a continued influx of “illegal” immigrants was going to financially and socially ruin the community, increase crime, cause increased social and political instability in the country, and increase the growing tendency to ignore law (zoning, immigration and financial law).
    Cause: Citizens noticed the collapse of their neighborhoods, increase in cost of social services, increase in lawlessness, increase in foreclosues and the population segments responsible for the foreclosues, and decided to save their communties from furthur degredation of standard of living and social ethics.
    Effect: Large numbers of “illegal” sympathizers, “illegals” and groups supporting only one race, gender, religion and ethnicity took to the streets in protest of legal activities to enforce law, and community activities to improve the neighborhood, stop crime associated with these population segments, and stop “illegal” immigration as the root cause of community degradation and financial collapse.
    Fact: The housing bubble collapse, caused a historical stock market collapse in September 2008, collapse of investment banking institutions, increase in short sales, decrease in crude oil commodity price (due to lack of demand and short sales speculation), collapse of major industries, loss of jobs and a significant increase in the unemployment rate.
    Cause: Over-population, a huge population bubble of “illegal” and formerly “illegal” immigrants over 25 years, greed, corruption, lack of institutional oversight, ignorance and lack of ethics to follow law.
    Effect: Wall street gets bailed out, main street gets punished, mortgage defaulters go unpunished, “illegals” continue to pour into the country, Ethical people are ignored, outlaws are idolized and protected, races, religions, genders and ethnic groups form political pacts and “voting blocks”, people blame everyone for the collapse of American society except the “illegal” immigrants who caused it, PWC has to cut back on jobs because any savings made by decreasing cost of services and support of “illegals” is offset by the collapse in the economy. loss of taxes from people who walked away from their mortgages, and people blame the government for the problem, instead of the “individuals” who promoted “illegal” immigration and “immigration reform” that will legalize and reward the very people who caused the financial collapse of the nation in the first place, vastly encouraging large numbers of new “illegals” to follow in their footsteps and create the next major population bubble, and the next major financial collapse around the year 2035 when America (and Saudia Arabia) runs out of oil. We will reap what we sow.

  5. NotGregLetiecq

    Michael, I skipped everything after “hatred is not a virtue.” The fact that you used the phrase “hatred is not a virtue” to DEFEND Corey Stewart and John Stirrup rather that criticize them for the economic damage they’ve caused simply disqualifies you from discussing either subject.

  6. michael

    I am not defending Corey Stewart or John Stirrup, I an defending truth from fantasy. The current economic situation is “caused” using all rules of “causality” rather than “emotion and ignorance” as is ofteren used to define truth on this blog.

    The collapse of this market started in 2000-2001, the value of the dollar declined by 50% or more and the jobless rate is significantly higher as businesses are failing from the current mortgage market collapse. The lending market collapsed from the feds keeping the interbank lending rate too low for too long, just as it did in the collapse in the S&L market previously. This crisis also reduced home prices in 2000-2001 and impacted the .com bubble and loss of jobs at that time as well (I bought my current home in foreclosure at that time), If you think in any way this recent market collapse and loss of PWC jobs has anything to do with the law enforcement “actions” of Corey Stewart or John Stirrup, you are seriouly misled buy your emotions. On the other hand is has been seriously impacted by an enourmous increase in population over the past 25 years. That is supported by a significant and deep look at what causes “bubbles” and market speculation.

  7. michael

    As usual you don’t like to read truth when it disagree with your own views.

  8. Unintended Consequences

    Perhaps they didn’t cause it but they made grandiose statements, along with their buddy Greg, about the savings we would capture because of the mass exodus of illegals.

    That is not apparently what has happened. They need to be continually asked about the savings they promised us. Where’s the savings?

  9. NotGregLeteicq

    Michael, the tax revenue of Prince William County doesn’t have anything to do with the S&L market or interbank lending. Give me a break.

    Our tax base is the value of real estate, and the percentage of taxation per dollar of assessed value. There is no argument against the reality that PWC real estate market is in the tank because of poor government. We devoted way too much time and money to an incompetent policy written by a DC anti-immigrant lobbying firm with not a care in the world about the well-being of this county. A lot of people were disrespected and/or terrorized into leaving, and, as a result, new home owners and real estate speculators aren’t willing to move here unless they get a BOTTOM BASEMENT, DRILL-A-HOLE-IN-THE-BASEMENT-AND-CHUCK-YOURSELF-IN price.

    Home prices in PWC have fallen so far that even I can afford to buy a house here, and that is NOT true of any neighboring county.

    You want to talk about emotion? Tell me what it is that fuels your marathon filibusters every time Stewart and Stirrup are held accountable for their failed policies.

    Either the national economic slowdown compounded the disastrous economic caused by of Stewart and Stirrup, or the disastrous economic damage caused by Stewart and Stirrup has been worsened the impact of the national economic slowdown. But when you’re talking about county employees, that is simply not the issue.

    Bottom line: our county employees and county services are funded by the real estate tax, and our tax base has been decimated by the Immigration Resolution, and its corresponding demagoguery, which earned Prince William County a horrible reputation and the weakest real estate market in the DC, Virginia, Maryland area.

  10. michael

    Greed is the problem, greed by the people who bought high risk mortgages and walked away from paying them, and greed caused by lending institutions who took money that was “protected” by the US government and took risks with that money knowing the federal government would bail them out if they failed. All of wall street now knows that if a large business makes stupid mistakes, reaches for excessive greed and excessive VIP salaries and bonuses and “fails”, the federal government will be sympathetic to thier loss of wealth and bail out the failing business.

    Rather than taking the 200 Billion dollars of federal money to bail out Citibank CEOs from grossly stupid mistakes and greed and using only 2 billion of it to protect the retiurement incomes and annual salaries of the 300,000 people employed by citi-bank and then letting only the rich people who made the greedy investments become poor, they decide to help the CEOs survive and keep their wealth, while still causing the financial destructuion of all the people with “normal incomes” by having no “bailout offering for their economic woes.

    What does this have to do with Stewart or Stirrup? The collapse of both the housing and investment markets were speculation collapses caused by overpopulation creating “bubbles”, sellers vastly outnumbering buyers, and speculators capitalizing on excessive greed with “legal” short sales that should always be “illegal”.

  11. michael

    The tax revenue has everything to do with the value of homes, and that depends on the ability of people to sell them. The cost of lending (interbank lending and federal funds rate) has a significant effect on the cost of money, mortgage rate, monthly payments and number of loans to buy homes, thus increasing their value, and their tax revenue.

    Give me a break with your lack of financial system depth, and narrow focus on only the issues you beleive caused loss of PWC jobs.

  12. michael

    What fills my “filibusters” as you call them, honest debate as I call them is an un-yielding search for truth and ethics to counter ignorance and lack of ethics. I think I have the moral high ground in this pursuit, and will debate with facts as much as possible over emotion anyday.

  13. michael

    UC any “saving” in reduced cost of services is lost in the economic collapse of our country as a result of overpopulation, and sellers outnumbering buyers.

  14. Unintended Consequences

    I simply want to know where the savings are that I kept hearing so much about. In fact, one of those guys said that the savings would make up for any real estate downturns. Either explain where the savings are or admit error.

  15. Opinion

    If Gerhart is truly a Chief Executive, he will rise to the occasion and trim the size of county Government. County Government employees are not exempt from the impact of a down economy. The conversation shouldn’t be how we preserve jobs; it should be how we eliminate people, services, and things that we can’t afford. It’s easy to be a Chief Executive when times are good. The real test is whether or not you can make the tough decisions when times are bad. It would appear that perhaps Gerhart doesn’t have the stomach to do what is required. If he isn’t up to the task, the County should look for a Chief Executive who is! If our members of BOCS aren’t up to the task, we will see the results of their misjudgments by the next election and can replace them with Supervisors who are up to the task of managing PWC through tough economic times. Any fool can make a Government bigger, it takes good management to make a Government smaller.

  16. michael

    Our tax base loss is a result of a collapse in home values, caused by a collapse in a major housing bubble across the nation, as a result of a huge population growth in the past 25 years, and has nothing to do with local community policy to enforce immigration law to remove “illegal criminals” (those who actually commit crimes) from our streets. Tell me how does the removal of people thrugh the 287g program to remove people who commit crimes have anything to do with the collapse of a housing market “bubble” across the nation. If you believe that is a result of law enforcement by Stewart and Stirrup I have some land in Nevada to sell you, real cheap…
    Jeez, give me a break on the rational logic flow here.

  17. michael

    UC it’s like this, there is a fixed value of the cost of services based on the number of people who take from those services, less people less cost of services, that can and did go down,but not as quickly and as fast as a loss of tax income from the national and global meltdown? Get it? That is the truth, not fantasy.

  18. michael

    PWC had the largest number of poor and low income people who bought high risk mortgages they could not afford, in most of the surrounding counties, and at a cheaper price range they thought they could afford ($400K instead of $800K). That is the same large population segment that was part of a huge population increase in the US over the past 25 years and the same population that defauted on those loans they could not afford and were also the most affected by the national and global economic collapse. PWC tax base is most affected by those people and the rest of the PWC society has to make up for the huge losses for their often “illegal” actions.

  19. Mom

    If Gerhart is truly a Chief Executive (Chief Weasel maybe, executive, no), he will rise to the occasion and trim the size of county Government (Bahahaha). County Government employees are not exempt from the impact of a down economy (perhaps not the rank and file but I’m sure Gerhart’s staff is safe). The conversation shouldn’t be how we preserve jobs; it should be how we eliminate people, services, and things that we can’t afford (should have been done long ago, but Connaughton allowed Gerhart to engage in empire building, a practice the current board has not slowed). It’s easy to be a Chief Executive when times are good (and you take advantage of a board that doesn’t do a good job of minding the store). The real test is whether or not you can make the tough decisions when times are bad (the tough decision he needs to make is when to bail out). It would appear that perhaps Gerhart doesn’t have the stomach to do what is required (he has the stomach just not the ethics). If he isn’t up to the task, the County should look for a Chief Executive who is (but that would mean they would actually have to do some work instead of mere pontificating)! If our members of BOCS aren’t up to the task, we will see the results of their misjudgments by the next election (you must be blind, most can already see them) and can replace them with Supervisors who are up to the task of managing PWC through tough economic times (what fool wants that job). Any fool can make a Government bigger (Oh, you already know the answer), it takes good management to make a Government smaller (such a management team would be the first in County history).

    The long and the short of it is this, Gerhart has overextended the county (with the cooperation of the board, particularly Nohe, Caddigan, Jenkins and former members Barg and Darth Connaughton) to such an extent that it will be difficult (if not impossible) to put the fiscal house in order in the short term. Playing games with tax rates, average taxes paid and proposing a tax cut when your revenue stream is already drastically diminished is foolish and amounts to nothing more than grandstanding by the board (an action they are terribly adept at), brings to mind “I feel your pain”. As unpopular as this may sound, the prudent course would be to maintain the current average actual tax paid (irrelevant tax rate be damned) and try to make due, understanding cuts will have to be made as a result of inflation and step increases in contract costs. Just because the revenues have decreased does not mean the cost of or demand on county services has decreased commesurately, most county residents are bright enough to realize that and probably don’t give a rat’s patootie what the Board does with the tax rate so long as their actual tax paid remains relatively the same.

    Their current course is a combination of pandering and bad public policy.

  20. Censored bybvbl

    Michael, I don’t think that population growth has driven the housing collapse. It’s been a factor but I’d blame the types of loans available – and pushed on the general public. We were supposed to buy, buy, buy after 9/11 to jump-start a faltering economy. How do you get people to buy? You market. You market how a larger home, the ubiquitous SUV, the trip to Tuscany, the private school for the kiddos, etc. make a person feel good (until the bills come in). You get the middle and upper-middle classes to buy another house by making them feel their present houses are inadequate. Either they’re outdated, smaller, need renovation, in a questionable neighborhood,too far from employment, etc. Eventually you need to sell those smaller houses that are being abandoned in order for people to keep buying. Enter lax lending standards.

  21. Censored bybvbl

    Just because the revenues have decreased does not mean the cost of or demand on county services has decreased commesurately, most county residents are bright enough to realize that and probably don’t give a rat’s patootie what the Board does with the tax rate so long as their actual tax paid remains relatively the same.

    Mom, I absolutely agree. The pandering does nothing to solve the financial mess we have. With a whopping revenue shortfall, why reduce the tax substantially.

  22. Opinion

    (mom) …the prudent course would be to maintain the current average actual tax paid…

    (Censored bybvbl) …why reduce the tax substantially.

    Sorry folks, what you propose is a HUGE tax increase. Some of us actually do watch these things closely (particularly those of us with unusually large tax bills). This is an opportunity to eliminate many of the services that are clearly outside the mandate of County Government (the entire Neighborhood Services bureaucracy comes to mind. There’s a good example of a simple idea grown out of control.) and an excellent time to trim the size of Government to one we can afford.

    Corey Stewart is many things (some I like, some I don’t); however, first and foremost he professes to be an anti-tax fiscal conservative. This will be his opportunity to prove whether he “walks the walk.” I’d actually forgive his immigration stand if he pulls this off.

    And mom, please avoid the parenthetical comments. It’s really poor form (and particularly irritating.)

  23. Mom

    Opinion:

    I find those who don’t read carefully, particularly irritating.

    I do watch these things closely and pay what might be considered an unusually large tax bills so let me repeat, “maintain the current average actual tax paid” (not raise the average tax paid). Now pay close attention, first, the rate only determines how much you pay with regard to your assessed value. If you adjust the rate to maintain the average tax paid, it doesn’t matter how much you raise or lower it so long as the bottome line stays the same. Also, bear in mind that the commericial property which is taxed at the same rate has retained substantially more value than residential property thus, by maintaining the average rate those commercial properties will bear a greater percentage of the tax burden, effectively giving the residential tax payer some measure of relief. A long overdue circumstance given that the residents have historically borne a greater burden than the commericial land owners. Lastly, those proclamations by the board that they will save the residents several hundred in taxes each, is bullshit. The average is dramatically skewed by the scads of McMansions in the western part of the county and the high taxes paid by large commercial development. As for Corey’s position, it’s nothing more than damage control and shifting the focus off poor policy decisions.

  24. Censored bybvbl

    Opinion, would it, the $1.13, be an actual increase in dollars paid or in merely the tax rate? Assessments for most houses are probably down. Even the supervisors are saying that the average resident would see a decrease in taxes. I’m willing to pay for decent schools, conveniently located libraries, good roads (although I’d prefer a better public transportation system). I have problems with the efficacy of Neighborhood Services, but I don’t want it eliminated. I’d like to see it grow a spine.

  25. ShellyB

    Censored, it will be a decrease in dollars paid because that is how much our property values have fallen.

    Unintended Consequences, you are asking a fair question. If we all recall, a year ago, Corey Stewart was out there trumpeting tax increases, saying that if we all bite the bullet and pay more taxes to harass immigrants, the immigrants will leave and we’ll see savings at our hospitals, schools, and jails.

    I don’t remember the figures exactly. Maybe someone else can help me out. But all three of those claims turned out to be either inaccurate or dishonest. The fact the rest of the country is now in an economy slide as well provides a bit of cover for Stewart and Stirrup. They can say it wasn’t their fault and hope no one was paying attention last year. But the truth is, we knew the economy was faltering last year as well, and we still got suckered into this idiotic “crackdown” because at that time, politics was overshadowing everything.

    Now that it’s time to do some governing, Stewart is fresh out of ideas. And it’s up to the pragmatists with long term commitment to this county (like Craig Gerhart, Maureen Caddigan, John Jenkins, and Marty Nohe) to clean up the mess.

    I find it odd that people are able to see the silver lining in completely incompetent government: it forces us to cut government. Are we happy now so called “conservatives?” Shall we ask Stewart and Stirrup to destroy our local economy and our tax base even further?

  26. Alanna

    Unintended Consequences,
    First, welcome as I haven’t seen you posting here before.

    Second, can you tell me which Supervisor stated that the benefits would exceed any real estate downturn? And when did they say this? Was it a newspaper article? or during a Supervisor’s meeting?

    Thanks.

    Also, Opinion, perhaps it was you that suggested cutting Neighborhood Services on a previous thread. The person who did also extended an invitation to attend one of the Committee Meetings. Just curious what is the budget of that department?

  27. ShellyB

    Call me nuts, but I’ve just read the entire length of Michael’s “filibuster.” Sounds like someone’s been watching CNBC. And taking notes!

    Isn’t the definition of filibuster something like, “I know that I can’t win the argument so I’ll just talk and talk and talk to delay the inevitable?”

  28. Moon-howler

    Opinion, Are you suggesting we just use county employees and when their services are no longer needed, we just ditch them? It sure sounded like it.

    A real test of leadership will be to take care of the people end of the problem and at the same time meet budget realities. It sounds like Gerhart is attempting to apply balance and my hat is off to him.

    UC makes a good point. And we know the answer.
    ShellyB I don’t remember either but I know we were all told the savings would more than make up for increase in costs.

    The tax rate is for the politicians. They can brag if it goes down or stays the same and can gouge opponents if it goes up. The rate can go sky high and people can still pay the same real estate tax, which sounds like what needs to happen. I know Corey Stewart wants to walk away from all this as the low tax supervisor. Services aren’t free. I would rather pay more and get more.

  29. Opinion

    Sorry, Mom, you don’t get it.

    If “…maintain the current average actual tax paid”, you have, in fact, raised the rate.

    I hope you aren’t too irritated with yourself.

  30. Opinion

    Moon-howler,

    Actually, you understand my comment (and intrepit it correctly). Personnel are the most expensive component of our budget. It is regrettable that our County Government took on so many unnecessary (not required by any Federal or State mandate) services which put those folks at risk; however, when the service goes away the people should go away.

    I really don’t understand why County employees should be sheltered from the same sound management practices that a publically held company practices. We are, in effect, “shareholders” in the business of County Government. The BOCS is our Board of Directors (literally, ergo our particular form of Government). Gearhart is our CEO. As with any business when revenues drop, the CEO revisits costs and reduces unnecessary expenses wherever necessary. If he isn’t up to the task, we find one who is.

    Tax rates are a technical issue. It’s not for politicians, its for citizens. Unfortunately, too many people just don’t understand (or pay attention to) tax policy. That’s part of the problem.

  31. Opinion

    Alanna,

    Neighborhood Services is an example of how Government entities only grow and never go away. I’m amazed how its simple original mission has grown into an empire of things that County Government has no mandate to do (and that could easily be moved to other Government agencies). For example, why isn’t zoning enforcement in… well… the Zoning Department?

    If we downsize it, it will come back. Eliminate it, move those things that there might be some mandate to do to other departments (and I’m not sure there are any), and move on. That’s how you manage a shrinking budget (and how private industry is dealing with the current environment).

    Government isn’t a welfare program. It should be run like a business (like a business that belongs to us).

  32. Opinion

    Censored bybvbl,

    Regarding your comment, “Opinion, would it, the $1.13, be an actual increase in dollars paid or in merely the tax rate?” You will find that while the tax rate goes up ($1.13), the actual taxes paid by most County residents will go down. (IMHO), that’s a good thing.

  33. Lucky Duck

    There is a long term consideration in any reduction in County services. This economic slide will not last forever. When you dismantle such County functions as building and development (and those reduction in force letters have been received – effective January ) or Neighborhood Services, you have to consider what happens when the economy picks up again. It takes many months or even years to build those services back up and Prince William has been behind other Counties before. Remember all of those complaints from developers and businesses several years ago about the permit process here? For years we all complained about Neighborhood Services and they finally get up and running and now they are on the chopping block.

    It takes some agencies six to eight months to ramp back up. So if we cut too deep in some places or without future considerations, we will delay our County’s recovery when that turn around starts.

    People will have to adjust that a reduction in force DOES mean a reduction in services.

  34. Opinion

    I just read Gerhart’s presentation to the BOCS yesterday http://www.pwcgov.org/documents/bocs/agendas/2008/1125/5-C.pdf

    As a former “C” level, I recognize his tactic. He is opting to make the most important decision of his career (as the Cheif Executive of PWC, at least) by “committee”. That is not (CEO level) leadership. He would not do well in the private sector.

    Lucky Duck,

    I’m for taking care of Police, Fire, and First Responders (Government’s mandate for public safety). I believe everything else should be on the table for reduction or elimination.

    If you push to keep everything, it WILL impact public safety (as mentioned earlier, even the proposed 1.13 increase in taxes will result in lower tax revenues due to the decline in home values). What would you trade for having an ambliance show up on time for your heart attack? …for a policeman to be available when someone is breaking into your home? …for a fire truck to be able to show up when your house is ablaze?

    These are tough times. Tough choices are required. Perhaps the leaders who grew our Government are the wrong ones to shrink it.

  35. Moon-howler

    Personnel are critical to the smooth operation of any county or jurisdiction. Were that not the case, all would be replaced with computers, robots and button pushers. We don’t want our best and most talented people to go elsewhere.

    Economic downturn some might say? How about a new administration hiring thousands of people 30 miles away? Belvoir expanding in to a super base? It would be all too easy to go give everyone considered expendible a pink slip. I believe Gerhart is smarter than that. I believe our supervisors are smarter than that.

    If we start viewing loyal employees as expendible or there only to serve the ‘state,’ how do we differ from places like the soviet union. I would think that pink slipping good employees would be the last resort.

  36. Mom

    Opinon:

    I believe it you who doesn’t get it. I noted that the rate could go up but I also noted the important issue is actual tax paid on a year to year basis. Although the relative asssessed value of one’s home may rise or fall the cost of basic county services, ie: public safety, fire, rescue, etc. will also rise if only incrementally. As such, residents should expect to pay a relatively stable recurring amount over that same period of time. If one expects the services one also should expect to have to pay for them. The problem occurs when the supervisors engage in semantics during a rising market, claiming they are cutting the rate when in fact they are raising the actual tax paid by double digit factors. See: Connaughton, Sean

    As most people have their real estate taxes rolled into their mortgage payments, so long as the actual tax paid remains relatively flat, they don’t generally notice or for that matter care, it is the cost of being a homeowner with an investment.

  37. Mom

    Oops

    “will also rise if only incrementally” should be “always rise if only incrementally”

  38. Lucky Duck

    Opinion, in tough times, I agree with you that cuts are necessary. I am not pushing to keep everything. I have my own opinion as to what needs to be cut. My point is that people calling for total elimination of agencies or services should consider long term effects.

    Opinion, if you’ve read ALL of the budget presentations, you’ll see that public safety (fire and police) are NOT spared. Do you know that six officer positions have already been lost? Did you know that the fire department is not adequately staffed? When the fire dept. lost a member in the spring of ’07, the resulting investigation determined that not enough staff responds to fires based upon the size of the average house in PW. None of the recommendations for addional staff has been implemented. So, don’t sleep too soundly tonight because your police and fire department have already been hit and their employees are are counted in some of those cuts. Don’t fool yourself.

  39. Red Dawn

    I think Lucky Duck is saying to hold on loosely but don’t let go 🙂

    You see it all around you, the ECONOMY gone bad and usually it’s too late when you REALIZE what you had…. 🙂

  40. Unintended Consequences

    Sounds like someone has an ax to grind with the county CEO.

  41. Lucky Duck

    Unintended, if that comment was directed at me, you are mistaken. My issues are with the BOCS. They have foolishly played with the tax rate for years. Two years ago they cut it too much just to brag about being the lowest in the metro area. It was an upcoming upelection year and they all wanted to grab headlines. I had one BOCS member comment to me that it would have to be raised the next year but people would forget that by the next election. A foolish stunt.

    We have an educated population who expect a certain level of services and government response. We’re not Stafford or Spottsylvania Counties – they are where we were fifteen or twenty years ago when it comes to government functions and we as residents of Prince William have grown with certain expectations. Our BOCS actions have placed those at risk.

    The County Exec has been a County employee for a long time. He worked in Finance for a number of years. But he has to play with the cards (and tax rate as well as political stunts like the millions spent on immigration) dealt to him by the BOCS.

  42. JustinT

    For the record, I trust Craig Gerhart more than I trust any of the Supervisors, even though I really like several of them. He is like Chief Deane, he is apolitical and always puts the county’s best interest first and foremost, even if he has to contradict some of the political shenanigans the Board members pull.

    Lucky Duck, you really seem to know what is what. I have a question. Why can’t the county borrow money socked away for a rainy day and weather this storm? I really was concerned when you talked about the long term drawbacks of slashing all our services back to where we were when we were considered hillbilly territory. If we had to borrow money and pay it back during better times, even that would be preferable to screwing over all those of us who moved her believing the county was on an upswing.

    And one last thing. Someone on this blog is trying to shift blame toward the County Executive. I think this is a ploy to shift blame away from the Chairman.

  43. Unintended Consequences

    No, Lucky Duck, I was not directing that at you, but one of the posters above. I am sorry for the misunderstanding. I have been reading your comments for a long time now and tend to find them very accurate.

  44. Lucky Duck

    Hi JustinT. The County raided the “rainy day” fund to pay for the immigration resolution. There isn’t much left. As for borrowing money to pay operating expenses, I am not an economist, but I have to believe the County’s bond rating would take a hit in doing that type of borrowing and that would only make it more expensive to borrow in the future. It took years to get the bond rating the County now enjoys.

    I agree with you regarding the County Executive. I do not know him personally, but have heard him speak many times and watched him in action. He has to run with what the BOCS give him and direct him.

    Thank you Unintended.

  45. Moon-howler

    Ah ha! I had forgotten all about that little rainy day fund that got raided. I guess it would be too much to hope for to think the money had been put back? Silly me.

    The county cxo seems to be doing a fine job in the face of adversity. There are the usual nay-sayers who want to grouse and grumble over him because they cannot push him around. That position is unelected and should be as free of politics as possible.

    I don’t know anything about the history of county managers but the city manager concept was born in Staunton, VA in 1908. The entire point of having a city manager was to get someone who knew how to run a jurisdiction and who wasn’t in the throes of politics and electioneering. At least one of our supervisors needs to be reminded, periodically, that he is not the CXO.

  46. JustinT

    Thanks for the great information Lucky Duck, and Moon-Howler. For some reason I thought there was a lot of money, like a LOT of money, in the rainy day fund, and the immigration thing didn’t make a dent. Does anyone know the numbers, because I really thought it was like super duper lost of millions and immigration only took a few million.

    Interesting background on the advent of the city manager and county manager. That’s exactly what we need in a county besieged by Washington lobbyists like FAIR. It’s little wonder that the FAIR minions at HSM are disappointed to find that our county manager set up makes it impossible for them to bully. Gerhart is a brave and honest man like Chief Deane. That’s why they wanted them both gone, IMHO.

  47. JustinT

    I meant to say “lots” of millions. Not “lost of millions.”

    Freudian typo.

  48. NotGregLeteicq

    Gerhart and Deane are linked in another way. Remember when Corey Stewart and the band of wackos tried to accuse Chief Deane of treason and call for his resignation? Well guess who stood in their way. Yep. Gerhart. Whoever is after Gerhart is probably part of the same bunch of loons who thought it would be a good idea to go after Chief Deane. Didn’t pan out so well for them, did it?

  49. Rat's Ass Ralph

    That is the HSM way. Get someone fired. Let’s see, they have gone after Deane, Gerhart, a substitute teacher, county telecommunication employees, various members of the press, etc. I probably don’t know the half of it.

    Funny that so much has been made of the admins here being housewives. I guess so. If anyone with an outside job were running this blog they would be in the HSM sights to go after their jobs.

    It is the mentality of ‘I don’t like your thoughts so I will try to get you fired.’ How low is this?

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