Everybody’s been there. You’re sitting in a meeting either at work or school or with a community group or club that you’re involved with. You’ve just presented something a budget, an event proposal, or even simply an idea. And then it happens. “That won’t work,” interrupts someone from the peanut gallery. They won’t explain why it won’t work, they won’t offer a suggestion for improvement, and they won’t volunteer to work with you to make the event or idea work.
They just say it won’t work, it can’t be done, it’s going to fail and that’s where they leave it.
When it comes to our county’s budget, the Prince William Taxpayers Alliance is stridently serving the role of disparager, pessimist, overall blockhead (because admit it, that’s what you really think of that person in those meetings who pipes up with negativism). The chairman of the alliance, along with the vice chair would have you believe that the county is overtaxing us, but they won’t offer up the evidence to prove their position. They maintain that they don’t have to, and that offering up solutions to help lower taxes would only serve to open a “Pandora’s box” (of what, I wonder ideas? discussion? debate? openness?)
Every election, our supervisors run on platforms that include quality of life issues they tout their support and funding of projects such as parks, pools and golf courses. They win reelection because those are amenities people want.
Ask someone why they moved here they’ll tell you it’s the trees, the parks, the pools, the golf courses, the recreation facilities.
In moving to Prince William, where these amenities are present, we have asked and are continuing to ask our government to provide them. And the community as a whole benefits from these amenities, whether one decides to utilize them or not. Mr. Daugherty and others in their alliance financially benefit from these amenities with increased property values, a lower tax rate than neighboring jurisdictions and children positively occupied utilizing county recreational facilities rather than roaming the streets bored and looking for trouble.
While I am confident that there are portions of the budget that could be decreased (and here again, different people will have different opinions), there are also portions of the budget that are woefully underfunded. Public safety is the most glaring example of this. Last year, a study was commissioned by the Board of County Supervisors to determine whether the sheriff’s office needed additional deputies. Not only did the study determine we needed more sheriff’s deputies, it also found we needed additional police officers and fire fighters. And if you compare public safety salaries in Prince William to those in neighboring jurisdictions, you’ll find that these dedicated public servants are woefully underpaid. If there’s pork in the budget, it’s certainly not in public safety.
As Cuba Gooding, Jr. told Tom Cruise in “Jerry Maguire,” show me the money. I challenge no, I dare, the Prince William Taxpayers Alliance to show me and the other voters where the excess is, where additional cuts can be made.
The Alliance chair said in a previous interview that he didn’t offer solutions because no one asked. Well, I’m asking. What an ideal time to put our money where your mouth is. For the first time in a long time, every supervisor faces competition. Their budget vote is a legitimate campaign issue. Show me how we can save more money and I’ll help vote them out.
Show me how we can reduce the assessment rate to $1.10 while preserving services and amenities, and I’ll join your organization and become an ardent supporter.
It’s very easy to sit back and criticize the efforts of others. It’s a lot harder to offer positive solutions for change. If the Prince William Taxpayers Alliance wants to become a valued force in the financial affairs of our county, they’re going to need to step up to the plate and put forth ideas. It’s time to offer solutions. It’s time to show us the money.
Denise Oppenhagen lives in Lake Ridge.