One of the best re-caps of yesterday’s BOCS meeting can be found at the Bristow Beat. Stacy Shaw did a great job of summarizing the very long meeting as well as using citizen profiles and quotes to encapsulate the various points of view represented. In fact, the Virginia Press Association named Bristow Beat the best in Breaking News Writing in the online-only category at their annual awards banquet last Saturday night. Congratulations, Bristow Beat!
Perhaps the most refreshing part of Stacy’s write-up was the air of neutrality. I saw none of the bias one usually associates with local news, whether it is blog related or actual online or print media. Yes, we expect blogs to portray bias. That is sort of the point of a blog. But all too often the actual online news sources can’t seem to resist showing their colors. It is just darn difficult to find your news without an infusion of commentary.
One of the most touching parts of the meeting was listening to people speak to the needs of the Prince William Free Clinic. It literally is a lifesaver for people who do not have health coverage and who might not have the out of pocket funds to get medical and dental treatment. Not everyone gets Medicaid, especially men. Where would these people be without the free clinic? Hopefully, Ray B. will come along and enlighten us about who really does qualify for Medicaid in Virginia. This illumination will be helpful when we listen to our state legislators argue the need for expanding Medicaid for 400,000 Virginians.
Meanwhile, be sure to read Stacy Shaw’s article covering the most recent Board of Supervisors meeting. Keep up the good work, Stacy.
Good for Chairman Corey Stewart. He has continued to point out the need for additional law enforcement officers, despite the fact that he has been vilified and mocked on some other blogs that frankly, would brand him regardless of what he advocated in his role as county chairman. Now one of the local online news agencies wants to pile on, ignoring facts.
In recently arguing his case for more police officers (and perhaps higher taxes) in next year’s fiscal county budget, Prince William Board of Supervisors Chairman Corey Stewart also managed to perpetuate an unfortunate stereotype.
“It’s not just in Woodbridge or Dale City, it’s not just in places where people would think these things would occur,” Stewart said of what he perceives as a spike in crime. “They are happening in the western end of the county.”
Really, Mr. Stewart? We expect rape, robbery and murder on the east end but not the west end?
He might as well have called it “Hoodbridge,” that embarrassing nickname that started who knows where, but it seems to have stuck.
Stewart called a press conference earlier this month to make his case that crime is on the rise, and mentioned two recent high-profile incidents – the execution-style shooting death of 21-year-old Glenda Coca-Romero at Platanillos Grocery in Woodbridge and a gang fight at Potomac Mills mall.
Despite the dire warnings I have read on Internet and on blogs, my real estate assessment didn’t go up all THAT much. At one quick glance I determined that if the $1.158 published tax rate goes through, then I might be paying about $13 [editorial correction from earlier amount] more dollars per month in real estate taxes. That is not going to break the bank.
The hype and scare that some politicians are trying to work up in the Gainesville District are simply that, hype and scare. I heard about all the mock concern for the working class people (read: those who don’t live in a McMansion) That would be me. I am not whining. I live in a perfectly ordinary older home in a 40 plus year old neighborhood. Lots of Prince William residents do. I would say my assessment is pretty typical. I did notice my house went up 9k more than my neighbor’s house that is the same model. Maybe it was the bathroom upgrades and the new roof.
Chairman Corey Stewart held a press conference earlier in the week to announce a needed crackdown on crime because of a recent spate of serious, more violent crimes in the area. Chairman Stewart addressed crime, rather than more divisive factors in his press conference.
Stewart today called a press conference in his office in Woodbridge and called for answers from the county’s police department on what’s causing what he called an “uptick” in local crime. No law enforcement members were present at the meeting when Stewart announced he wants Police Chief Stephan Hudson look for trends, or possible commonalities on what’s behind a recent rash of violent crime. Recent incidents like a rape, sexual assault, and a bank robbery in Nokesville were also cited as part of a rise in crime.
“It’s too early to know if there is an underlying cause, or if this is a beginning of a trend, but crime did go up substantially in 2012 and I think it’s going to go up again when the final numbers are ready for calendar 2013, as well,” said Stewart.
He’s basing his concerns on anecdotal information given to him, he told reporters.
This is the Corey I like to see! He didn’t single out any demographic groups to target. He aimed at the problem–CRIME. Addressing this problem now, rather than waiting until it gets its foothold in the door is a good thing. Public safety should always get top billing here in Prince William County. It’s just how that top billing is presented that has been a problem in the past. Chairman Stewart is going about this the right way this time. He is going directly to the Chief for his data and solutions.
Let’s face it. None of us like to pay taxes. It’s against our grain to turn over our money to anyone else without seeing something visible and tangible in return. Local taxes are often invisible–Public money goes to schools, roads, community services like fire and rescue other people’s welfare, and to fix broken pipes and water mains. If you don’t commute, have kids in school or if your house doesn’t catch fire, then you might not have much of a notion as to where your ‘hard earned’ cash goes.
[Does anyone have money that isn't "hard earned?" Are there any of us who aren't tax payers?]
This Tuesday, the PWC Board of County Supervisors will set the proposed tax rate for FY 15 which begins July 1, 2014. To read local blogs, one would think that Tuesday is Doomsday. Prognosticators wearing long robes and carrying signs have been predicting the end of the world for months now with the evil chairman being the chief instigator to take that hard earned cash. One would think the evil chairman was a one horse show, rather than simply one of 8 elected officials. Enough about Wizard Stewart, the money grabber. Let’s examine a few things about the tax rate and what it represents.
I used to live in the Gainesville District. In recent times, I am not so sure what district I live in. I have not moved.
Last night, my supervisor held an electronic town hall meeting. I like the concept of the electronic town hall meeting. I enjoyed the last one. Last night, not so much. All I heard were talking points from a local blog. I was disappointed. I pretty much heard affirmation of an uncooperative board of supervisors and an irresponsible school board. I don’t believe either of these bodies are irresponsible. Furthermore, the school board is not made up of members of society from a lesser god. They are duly elected officers of the county, the same as the board of supervisor members.
I wanted to ask a question but I figured I wouldn’t get through to my supervisor. It wouldn’t have been well-received, I don’t think.
The question I would have asked is the following:
If I contacted the supervisor’s office or the county over something that irritated the supervisor, would he post my inquiry on his website, thus opening me up for ridicule and vicious attacks from local bloggers and contributors?
Prince William County staff and the state of Virginia should find ways to allow for real-estate tax exemptions for religious institutions that own vacant land, the Prince William Board of County Supervisors directed Tuesday.
About 30 church leaders and congregation members told county supervisors during an evening board session that the tax assessor’s office was too strict when it comes to taxes on their charitable nonprofits, which are generally tax-exempt.
One of the prime examples is New Life Gainesville church, which is taxed on about half of its property that has only trees and streams on it. While the church building and parking lot remain exempt from taxes, the remainder of its wooded property is taxed about $1,000 per year, leaders have said.
Because it’s in the county’s protected rural area, the church can’t sell or subdivide the land. County officials say they are abiding by state law, which says that land can only be tax-exempt when it is used “exclusively” for religious use.
New Life’s situation, or a similar predicament, is shared by a total of 13 churches in Prince William, according to county officials. Other pastors said Tuesday they had run into the county tax collector when it comes to vacant land that they have bought and plan to build on in the future
The Prince William County Revenue Stabilization Fund is a separate fund modeled in part on the state Revenue Stabilization Fund that was created back in 1990. The state fund was created as a result of a nearly 2 billion dollar shortfall that occurred because of an economic downfall. Determined to be more prepared in the future, the State of Virginia created the Revenue Stabilization Fund also known as the Virginia Rainy Day fund. It may be researched at this state website.
The state fund holds an amount equal to about 10% of its annual budget in this fund.
Prince William County is known statewide for its economic responsibility. It falls into a unique category of jurisdictions in that it has a AAA bond rating, which is very difficult to achieve. Only 0 .4% of all jurisdictions have earned this distinction.
What is the RSF? The RSF is money intended to stabilize revenue collections. It isn’t for funding Blue Bird Bus Tours or to put in libraries, bike paths or ball fields. It is to cover the unexpected financial contingencies that occur such as housing market fluctuations which greatly impact PWC revenue collection since the great majority of taxes collected are residential based.Read more…
Sometimes events happen and the earth screeches to a halt on its axis, then abruptly starts rotating in the opposite direction. Today was such a day. Hold on to your seats. Mistress Moon and Elena agree with Corey Stewart.
Corey defended the practice of saving money. Is it possible to over-save? Is it possible to save too much money for a rainy day? For an emergency? For when times aren’t as good? Corey says no. It is fiscally responsible to save more than you need. I only heard one person disagree with him. That was Pete Candland. Pete not only disagreed with him but he rolled his eyes, shook his head and made facial gestures. To me, the behavior was disrespectful to his colleagues. Additionally, what Pete proposed or questioned showed his lack of understanding of how large municipalities are run. He appears to miss the complexities of a budget this size.
Corey was right. In fact, he sounded downright reasonable and responsible. He was back to being that old eagle scout.
In order to keep the AAA bond rating, we must have $10 million in the contingency fund. That is 1% of the annual budget. Prince William County, because of the unknown variables involved with sequestration and with the state requiring more from localities for VRS, is erring on the side of caution with what might appear to some to be more savings than are needed. We have about $20 million or 2% of total budget in the Revenue Stabilization Fund, twice as much as required to have the AAA bond rating. Great that we can handle emergencies. That is the fiscally responsible thing to do. If we do have contingencies, then we won’t dip below the designated level.
For Pete to criticize the county for saving too much money sounds out of touch and and frankly, fiscally irresponsible. Saving more than is needed is what my mother used to call a fine fault.
It’s time. I was going to wait until July 16 to put up a thread about budget woes of the county because I believe in working with facts rather than with rumor and gossip. I will continue to wait. However, a lot of people have something to say about this latest event which as I understand it, is a matter of under-budgeting. You know, one of those nasty little mathematical human error types of mistakes. No one has stolen anything or tried to gip the taxpayers out of their hard earned dollars.
There is a certain contingency in the county who want to fry various county employees and supervisors. There is another contingency who hate a witch hunt and who want facts. This is a spot for facts about the county and how you want it governed.
Please, send us you FACTS.
From Channel 4 News 11:00 PM 7/2/13
Since some of the local blogs have decided to beat the idea of the County Logo to death, I have decided to beat the county seal to death. Why? Just look at it. When was the seal adopted?
Beating the logo to death
At first glance, it appears we have a white hand holding a scale over a marijuana plant. Now there’s a good model for all the kiddies. NOT! Are those scales for weighting out justice or are they for weighing out how much substance?
Actually, it is supposed to be a tobacco plant. I guess that makes it all better. When was tobacco last grown as a crop in Prince William County? Probably a lot longer ago than pot was last grown. How about a nice new county seal if we want something to fight over. County art students could compete and we could all vote on the final selections by mail. One house, one vote. Maybe we could even put it on the ballet for the state elections if we hurried along.
Meanwhile, the pot/tobacco plant needs to go. How about a logo that includes the battlefield? That is surely our biggest tourist attraction. putting the Bobbitts on the seal would just not be appropriate!
Does this seal seem inappropriate to you all or is it just me? Any ideas on another seal? Is the logo being beaten to death? Why is Pete Candland leading the charge of tilting at this windmill rather than John Jenkins who is the person who really voiced his opposition to the blue logo in the first place? Perhaps their efforts would be better spent replacing our pot plant county seal.
The destructive nature of these constant attacks on the ever widening circle of county employees must end. The climate within the McCoart building is one of mistrust and confidence levels have been diminished. Whether it be for a desk, a toilet, a sink, an Easter egg hunt or the process of finding a new logo, these constant investigations and searching for wrong doing is no way to run county government. It’s like big brother is watching every move just to see if they can catch wrong doing. Who can work effectively in such an environment.
We witnessed a serious smack down during Supervisors time today. Supervisor Peter Candland, for unknown reasons, decided that it would be a good idea to attack Supervisor Frank Principi over this continued, ad nauseum, discussion over a county logo.
Pete submitted a three page, single spaced, diatribe demanding to know every single detail of who, what, when, why, where of the county directive to obtain a new logo for marketing strategies. My question is why? Why has this issue risen to the level of such intense scrutiny? Like there was some kind of fraud involved. Was it the best process or best logo choice, probably not, but the insistence on making this logo issue the next Benghazi conspiracy needs to stop.
There was an “all call” fundraising e-mail that was penned by Robyn Candland, excoriating the process and targeting Frank Principi as the “democrat” villain. Pete chose to turn his need for every nook and cranny to be inspected from a BOCS issue into a FOIA need. That is not how it should have been handled. Frank apparently thought the level of questions were over the top and formally objected . Having read them and included them in this post, I would say that I agree.
I just ran over to a local blog to see whose character was being assassinated today. I expected it to be a three-fer. It exceeded my expectations.
Let’s see….Grant, Kaczmarek, Peacor and Nohe, the usual suspects. They were basically mimicked, called liars, stooges, stupid and disgusting. Give it a rest, bloggers. Handle the issues without the smug air of superiority, the demeaning tones, and the name calling.
I don’t mind governmental transparency or the questioning of govt actions. I mind the name calling and lack of professionalism by the bloggers. If history repeats itself, there will be some bull crap printed about Moonhowler and the woodshed. Please don’t. Just improve, develop some professionalism, and stop name calling.
(A huge thank you to Steve Randolph for digging out the information!)
Part 1: The Players
Once upon a time during the first Dark Ages in Prince William County, in the year 1972, there were 7 magisterial districts and 7 supervisors. There was no at-large chairman. He was elected from the ranks. There was a school board. Each of the 7 members were appointed by the supervisor for that district. Well, there should have been a school board.
Five of the supervisors were new and 2 were incumbents.
From a frustrated friend of mine who prefers anonymity:
The $60,000 a year civil servants are who people turned to this past week in both Boston and in Texas. Public safety and support was mighty important. Yet the BOCS in Prince William County want to take a holiday away from this very group of people. Additionally, in the Texas plant explosion, a science teacher was the lead rescue person in getting the elderly and infirmed out of the convalescent home.
Taking a holiday away from municipal employees devalues their worth. Already Prince William County employees are overworked and treated disrespectfully. Just read a local blog. It has been this way since the crash. Many have no had respectable raises. Individuals are cannon fodder for local bloggers and those sitting around with an ax to grind.