Congratulations to the Frederick County Economic Development Commission for helping to bring McKesson Corp to town. A California company expanding in a right to work state. Conservative principles and fiscal responsibility pay dividends. Speaking of which...
Frederick County has a surplus of more than $13 million. We took in $8 million more in revenue and spent $5 million less than expected. The largest part of this revenue came from property taxes ($6.7 million). Our county budget was amended this year to increase the property tax rate by 4 cents per $100. This was to generate $3 million to pay for a state-mandated 5 percent salary increase for government employees. The Board of Supervisors increased its pay to cover additional taxes employees would incur ("make whole").
The first action from the county administration is to request the board schedule an Oct. 10 public hearing to discuss spending surplus tax dollars on employee bonuses. Is this the highest priority? Shouldn't we have a hearing on how to return tax dollars to citizens, or discuss paying down debt?
Our Board of Supervisors moved rapidly to increase our property tax rate earlier this year. I would ask that the same sense of urgency be taken to return our tax rates to where they were (.545) before the upcoming December assessment.
Also, refrain from increasing the size of government, especially until the new provisions of the Virginia Retirement System (VRS) - Mandatory Hybrid Retirement Plan are in place beginning Jan. 1, 2014.
Additionally, keep the FY13 budget where it is with no new increases. The board should make good use of this surplus. Other priorities that need to be addressed: Maintenance on equipment and facilities; sheriff needs a few replacement vehicles; merit pay for best employees.
Raising taxes and providing pay increases employees gives 2,700 folks a raise, while 49,000 property owners take a cut in household budgets. With the potential of the real estate market improving and the home assessments increase, for most of us that is an equity increase on paper, but the taxes come out of our wallets.
Jay L. Marts, Frederick County