Monthly Archives: March 2014

Republican supervisors cut school budget by $35 million and call it an “increase”

Yes, it’s fun with numbers time again at the all-Republican Loudoun Board of Supervisors, who last week voted at a final budget work session to cut next year’s school budget by $35 million and then sent out a press release congratulating themselves on having increased the budget.

The funding the Board approved in fact does leave the schools with a $35 million shortfall from the $952 million that the School Board needs just to cover the costs of increased enrollment (an additional 2,400 students added to the rolls next year) and other non-optional expense increases (such as additional contributions required by the state to the retirement system). Continue reading

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The Redskins rip-off

One of the biggest scams in local government here, exploited to the fullest by our “business friendly” all-Republican Loudoun Board of Supervisors, is the slush fund at the Board’s disposal from revenues collected from the local hotel tax.

By state law, about half of the hotel tax revenues are required to be used for promoting travel and tourism to the county, in particular events or organizations that result in overnight stays.

But under the guise of being “business friendly” and promoting “economic development,” this Board has turned it into just an all-purpose slush fund to reward their cronies and help themselves. The biggest recent scandal was the Board’s decision in 2012 to award $2 million — $500,000 a year — to that very needy organization the Washington Redskins. It was all the more astonishing given that the Redskins had just announced they were pulling their training camp out of Loudoun. But the Board insisted that because the Redskins had very legitimate “football reasons” to move their training camp to Richmond, it was really very unfair to take away the team’s free taxpayer-provided subsidy. And the team even promised sort of to keep their corporate HQ in Loudoun for another year or so.

Yes, just think of the tourist benefits of a business office!

Meanwhile, the Board was wiping out a whole raft of small but important grants to local arts and cultural organizations claiming that they did not represent a “core function of government.”

The Board’s right-wing  amen corner took to the blogosphere to defend the Redkins ripoff by claiming (a) that all of the money just came from hotel taxes, thus was not paid by residents and (b) the Redskins were of great value to “branding” the county. (Priceless, I guess, since no one could put a value on that supposed benefit.)

What the Board spectacularly failed to even ask, though were a few basic questions that anyone who claims to be “businesslike” would have occurred to ask from the outset:

1. Does a very successful for-profit business like an NFL football team actually need a subsidy? Will the $2 million from Loudoun County actually induce the Redskins to do anything to the benefit of the county that they did not intend to do anyway out of their own corporate interest?

2. Would that same $500,000 a year, invested in other Loudoun organizations, nonprofits, or tourism related enterprises, have generated a greater return to the county, especially more tourism and visits?

3. As a matter of principle and long-term policy planning, would it not make sense to require that these limited, restricted funds be invested in activities that promise to remain in the county for more than a year or so, and that had not just abandoned their only significant visitor-drawing activity?

What was especially ignorant was the glib claim by defenders of this corporate welfare that since the money came from the tourism tax, it was somehow free and it didn’t matter. You would think that anyone who claims to be “businesslike” just might have heard of the concept of “opportunity cost” and the fungibility of money: Simply, handing over $500,000 — which is a lot of dough — to an NFL football team is $500,000 that is unavailable for anything else, even if it all came from the restricted the hotel tax.

But now it turns out that a large chunk of the money is going to have to come out of general revenues after all, owing to a shortfall in the hotel tax trust fund. Continue reading

Math skills lag at Patrick Henry (and the Loudoun BOS)

As alert reader Dan Johnson points out, Loudoun GOP Supervisor and Deep Thinker Suzanne Volpe’s mathematically challenged “example” of how terribly scary your property tax bill is going to be if we pay for our public schools was even more mathematically challenged than we noted in yesterday’s post.

As we noted, Volpe flagrantly cherry-picked her data, using one neighborhood that experienced an unusually large increase in assessed value (18.6% — versus the county-wide average of 4.19%) to paint an exaggerated and unrepresentative “example” of impending property tax increases.

But then she also applied a further, mathematically nonsensical multiplier to try to make the increase appear even greater. And,  in the process, demonstrating she doesn’t have the least clue abut how property taxes work — rather a significant failing in a county supervisor, one would think.

Here is what Supervisor Volpe  asserted: Continue reading

Beware of politicians offering “examples”

After denouncing concerned parents as engaging in “scare tactics” for having the audacity to ask the all-Republican Loudoun Board of Supervisors to fully fund the school budget, the all-Republican Loudoun Board of Supervisors has been busy rolling out its own scare tactics — ominously warning of the crippling tax burden this would impose on the struggling, hard-working property owners in the wealthiest county in the nation.

Last week Supervisor Suzanne Volpe (R-Algonkian), once again making an impressive bid to open an unchallengeable lead in the race for the coveted Dumbest Supervisor Award, sent out one of her “news[sic]letters” full of numerology purporting to show how very, very bad it will be to actually pay what it will actually cost to cover the additional 2,400 students who will be added to the rolls of the public schools next year. Continue reading

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Delgaudio: My only fault is that I’m too holy

Perennially ethically challenged Loudoun Republican Supervisor Eugene Delgaudio (R-Sterling) has come up with yet another explanation for why he is facing a legal proceeding to remove him from office for having corruptly enriched himself at public expense.

After telling us previously that it’s really “all about Obamacare”; that it is because he “supports traditional marriage”; that “the radical homosexuals” are out to “destroy his livelihood”; that “the Liberal Establishment” is trying to “discredit” him; that he is being victimized by “people who refuse to defend the flag”; and that his critics actually just “hate Sterling” . . . Eugene now says it’s really because he is too holy.

“I’m officially on the fringe because I fight for God’s law,” Delgaudio told something called the “Christian” News Service.