In case you missed it (given all of our winter weather), the Republican majority on the Stafford County Board of Supervisors repealed the Business, Professional and Occupational License (BPOL) tax on February 2, 2010. I pretty much said that this was a forgone conclusion in my last post on the subject here. I’m not going to reiterate all the points I’ve already made on the topic, so if you’re interested check out my last post.
For those that were unable to attend the public hearing, I decided to put together a little video of highlights lowlights. I actually think that the Republicans can teach a course on the art of twisting the facts. As Albert Einstein once said,
If the facts don’t fit the theory, change the facts.
A few key takeaways before you go. I certainly have some issues with BPOL in general; however, what troubles me the most is the fact that Stafford Republicans continue to misrepresent the facts to further their position on the issue.
They refuse on leveling with residents on how they plan on addressing the huge shortfalls present in the FY ’11 budget. Yeah the $26 million school shortfall and the upwards of $19 million shortfall in the county budget.
It still makes no sense to me that Republicans would use a surplus, which could have been used to lessen the impact of the tremendous shortfalls projected in the upcoming budget, to repeal an annual revenue source that some predict would equate to $140 million over the next 20-years.
For FY ’11, it was projected that BPOL would provide the county with $3.7 million of revenue. Combine the $3.7 million of BPOL revenue now lost with the $3.7 million of the surplus that must be used to cover the costs of repealing BPOL in the FY ’10 budget and the total impact to the FY ’11 budget is $7.4 million. So when the county is facing tough fiscal realities, the Republicans vote to make things even worse for the county, our schools, our roads, our law enforcement and our fire and rescue. That $7.4 million could have meant that more teachers and deputies would be able to keep their jobs. It could have meant that some much needed road improvement projects were able to happen next year.
The Republicans have failed to have an honest debate with the public on the impact of the decisions that they are making. The reality is that Republicans will have one of two choices now: (1) Drastically reduce core services or (2) raise taxes on existing homeowners. They failed to level with residents during the BPOL debate and chose to avoid laying out the impact of their decisions.
Stafford County is the second fasting growing County in Virginia and, as such, has an ever-increasing need in maintaining and improving core services. As I stated previously, 53% of Stafford Schools do not currently meet Annual Yearly Progress requirements. Will businesses really choose to relocate to a school system that is failing? I think not.
Listen, I have no problem with repealing the BPOL tax as long as the Republicans showed how they planned on replacing this revenue source. BPOL is not a perfect tax, but it is one of the only tools that localities have on raising revenue locally that is not on the back of homeowners or consumers. If businesses have problems with the structure of BPOL, they need to work with their delegates and state senators to fully address them in the General Assembly. I do think that small businesses have some really good points on BPOL. What we need is an equitable tax structure for homeowners, consumers and businesses.
In the end, I’m most upset by the fact that the Republicans used a recently found surplus (due to an administrative error) to repeal BPOL. This is the same surplus that they cried about holding onto back in December when Democrats proposed spending it. I was equally critical of spending this surplus when Democrats tried to do it too.
This political posturing must end and the residents of Stafford County deserve to be put first again!