Fairfax County wants to become a city

One of the many things to be thankful for as we get ready to enter a brand new year is that most of us do not live in Fairfax County. Sure, they’re more affluent than we are, and they have more residents, and from some Fairfax County rooftops you can actually see the fireworks on the mall on the 4th of July. But that’s only one night a year, and it’s hardly worth relocating there for that. Besides, Fairfax County is thinking about becoming a city.

I know. That sounds odd. Why would the largest and richest county in the commonwealth even think about becoming a city? As with most things, it comes down to money, or a lack, thereof. With nearly a million residents, Fairfax County doesn’t like the fact that of every tax dollar it sends to Richmond, it gets less than 20-cents back for county needs. That would tick anybody off, I suppose. So they want to become the next Manassas or Manassas Park and tax residents for anything their little hearts desire.

Because of long outdated laws on the books that probably date back to when George Washington was trying to decide whether to name his estate after some guy named Vernon, counties cannot tax their residents’ income or levy taxes for hotels, restaurants, movie tickets, cigarettes and several other products or services that any city or town within Virginia can legally tax. So the county wants to become a city so it can start taxing its residents beyond the state, property and sales taxes they already have the pleasure of coughing up.

Like I said, this is perhaps a good time to not live in our neighbor’s jurisdiction to the north (unless, of course, you actually prefer to pay more taxes.) While this scenario has come up at least twice before in the past few decades, it’s unlikely to really happen again because of money. Legislators in Richmond would have to approve such a change and that means statewide lobbying, and you know how costly that can be. Besides, a fat majority of us just voted down a billion-dollar special tax for transportation, so we already know how we feel about new taxes on top of the existing ones.

Yet the very idea of Fairfax County evolving into a city remains intriguing when you consider what on earth they would call it. Remember, we already have a Fairfax, as in the well-known “Fairfax, Virginia.” True, Fairfax County could solve its name problem by becoming part of Maryland, but then they’d have to lower their IQs by a hundred points, be pressured into harvesting crabs and root for the Baltimore Ravens over the Redskins, and it could get messy.

Obviously, our brethren to the north are not exactly creative types because so far, according to the media (which can be trusted on rare occasions), the county powers-that-be have come up with: Senior Fairfax, Greater Fairfax, or Fairfax City Number Two. Oh, and the City of Fairfax County is another idea. Apparently, no one has yet thought up the far more ingenious (if I do say so myself) Fairfaxville, Fairfax-On-Potomac, or simply Fairfax II: The Saga Continues.

Sadly, even thinking about converting to a city might give our own political leaders ideas about Prince William County. If there’s anything we need here, it’s more taxes. But choosing a name could be a lot simpler Prince William? City of Prince William? Prince Williamville? Williamburg? Maybe people would confuse us with that colonial city further south and we’d pick up some serious tourist dollars. Better yet, let’s just remain the happy little county that we are. Also, it’s a very, very little-known fact that namesake Prince William’s last name was actually “County,” so who are we to mess with history?

John Merli has been a Prince William County resident since 1984, and a Potomac News columnist since 1985. He has worked in the media for more than 30 years. E-mail him at: [email protected]

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