Recent BOCS Actions

June 23, 2016

As the old saying goes, “You can’t win ‘em all.” However some losses are bigger than others.

Unfortunately, at the Prince William Board of County Supervisors meeting on Tuesday, our County took a few significant steps in the wrong direction. These major miscues will have a tremendously negative impact on taxpaying citizens over the next five years, and will make it much harder for everyone to see how politicians are spending taxpayer money.

The County’s Five Year Plan

The Board passed Chairman Stewart’s Five Year Spending Plan that will enable County spending to grow by over 18% and increases the average tax bill by over 15%.  That is a 15% average tax bill increase over the next five years that is on top of the over 15% that has been heaped upon us over the last five years.  I was honored to stand with Supervisors Anderson (Occoquan) and Lawson (Brentsville) who also voted against this extreme spending plan.

Not only does this plan undermine the budget work we recently passed, but this type of spending trajectory is simply unsustainable. We cannot continue to raise taxes each year by huge amounts that hurt families and stifle economic growth.

And it was just announced yesterday that senior citizens and military families who received a 0% increase in their cost of living adjustments last year will only see a .2% increase this year.  While every family in Prince William County will take a hard hit to their family budgets to pay increased taxes to fund the proposed skyrocketing County spending, seniors on fixed incomes, and military families who receive fixed monthly allowances simply cannot afford another 3.5% to 4% increase in taxes.

The best solution, and the one that provides a sustainable plan for the future, is for us to choose to do things differently so that we truly can protect the quality of life that we have promised to every family in the County.

Over the last four years, we have identified millions of dollars in savings and efficiencies that can be achieved without cuts to vital County services. These reforms will still allow us to invest in those critical areas of education, transportation, public safety, and our parks.

County Freedom of Information Act Policy

The Board also passed a resolution that will build obstacles for citizens to see how their money is being spent.  As an elected official, I routinely ask for information from the County and my fellow Supervisors in order to help shape policy decisions.  This access to information is critical in determining needed reforms.

Yet on Tuesday, the Board voted to change County FOIA policy so all elected officials will need to personally pay to obtain requested information from the County or other Supervisors.  This move will have the unintended consequence of reducing the ability to hold our elected officials accountable for their spending decisions.

This is not a partisan issue.  While I might disagree on certain issues with many of my liberal colleagues on the Board, I believe they have the right as the representatives of their districts to have access to County information without having to pay for it.

Over the last few weeks, it has become clear to many that certain members of the Board of County Supervisors are using their office funds for what some would say are nothing more than campaign activities.  Using taxpayer money in order to fund a re-election operation is against our Rules of Procedure and is simply wrong.

I will be proposing in the upcoming months several reform measures that will ban the ability of Supervisors to use their office funds for this type of behavior and make our processes more transparent.

But I will need your help.  I will need your help to convince the Board that these reforms are necessary.  Please take a few moments and email the Board expressing your thoughts on the aggressive spending plan and the new restrictions on our FOIA policy.  You can contact the entire Board at bocs@pwcgov.org
While the events of Tuesday are setbacks to reducing the tax burden and making our government more transparent and accountable, we have still made much progress.  You have my commitment that I will continue to fight and stand up to make sure that your tax dollars are being spent properly on more efficient and transparent government.

I encourage you to sign-up for regular updates about our district on my homepage.

Sincerely,

 

Pete Candland

 

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