Welcome to my first foray into local Spotsylvania County politics; why do I have a feeling that this is going to end bad?
As my readers (all three two of you) may know, fellow blogger D.J. McGuire has announced his run for the Spotsylvania County Board of Supervisors for the Lee Hill District. I hadn’t gotten a chance to write up a post about his announcement, but I did add him (with a link to his website) to the “2009 candidates I support” box on the right.
D.J., who’s a Republican, is running against incumbent supervisor Gary Skinner (Independent), who was elected in 2007. (For those that are curious, Spotsylvania has adopted staggered election terms for supervisors which is why Skinner’s term was only for two years. This election will be for a four-year term starting in the beginning of 2010 and finishing at the end of 2013.) Vince Onorato, who previously served on the board from 2004 through 2007, running as an Independent in 2003, and as a Republican in 2007 where he lost to Skinner, is trying to get back on the Board by running as an Independent this year according to The Free Lance–Star’s Dan Telvock. ((Telvock, Dan. “”Vince Onorato is back…sort of”.” [Weblog Spotsy govt.-the odds & ends] 3 Mar 2009. The Free Lance-Star Publishing Co.. 6 Mar 2009 <http://www.fredericksburg.com/blogs/view?blogger_id=21&p=1236103465>.))
In a county that has suffered (yes, that’s the right word) through nine tax increases in the past thirteen years, D.J. is pledging when he’s elected to not vote for an increase in taxes.
What is Gary Skinner’s philosophy on tax increases?
After Spotsylvania County finished doing reassessments last year, the proposed equalization rate — the rate at which citizens, on average, would see no increase on their taxes — was $0.56 per $100 of assessed value. In the proposed budget by the County Administrator, the proposed tax rate was $0.62/$100. When it came time to advertise a tax rate, Gary Skinner proposed to advertise a $0.65/$100 tax rate, a rate two cents even higher than the County Administrator’s proposed rate. Five of the other supervisors barked at this idea, and instead the county advertised a $0.62 rate. ((Telvock, Dan. “Spotsy faces budget pain,” The Free Lance–Star 30 Mar 2008. The Free Lance-Star Publishing Co.. 6 Mar 2009 <http://fredericksburg.com/News/FLS/2008/032008/03302008/367039>.))
When it came time to vote on the tax rate, one supervisor made a motion to set the tax rate at the equalization rate of $0.56, Gary Skinner voted against this motion repeatedly. Skinner then made a motion to set the tax rate at $0.62 — the maximum rate that the county had advertised — and this motion passed 4 to 3. ((“Board of Supervisors Meeting, April 10, 2008, Minutes.” Spotsylvania County Home Page. Spotsylvania County Board of Supervisors. 6 Mar 2009 <http://www.spotsylvania.va.us/DownloadFiles/Minutes/bos/041008.pdf>.))
After Gary Skinner voted for over a 10% tax increase for Spotsylvania County citizens in a single year, and the county was still running a deficit due to the economy and the county’s spending, Skinner was the lone supervisor to vote against proposed spending reductions in September. Skinner, based on the report in The Free Lance–Star, openly proposed raising taxes in the middle of the year to make up for the deficit that had developed. ((Telvock. Dan. “Spotsy cutting budget again,” The Free Lance–Star 24 Sep 2008. The Free Lance-Star Publishing Co. 6 Mar 2009 <http://fredericksburg.com/News/FLS/2008/092008/09242008/413140>.))
With Gary Skinner’s tax-and-spend policies documented, let’s turn to Independent-turned-Republican-turned-Independent (I think that’s the right order) Vince Onorato:
Back when Vince Onorato was on the Board in 2004, Onorato seconded and voted for a motion to set the tax rate at $0.87/$100, an one cent increase in taxes compared to the proposed $0.86 equalization rate. Luckily, this motion was defeated by the Board 5 to 2. ((“Board of Supervisors Meeting, April 27, 2004, Minutes.” Spotsylvania County Home Page. Spotsylvania County Board of Supervisors. 6 Mar 2009 <http://www.spotsylvania.va.us/DownloadFiles/Minutes/bos/04272004.pdf>.))
In 2005, Onorato voted to raises taxes again, this time from $0.86/$100 to $0.89/$100 . ((“Board of Supervisors Meeting, April 12, 2005 Minutes.” Spotsylvania County Home Page. Spotsylvania County Board of Supervisors. 6 Mar 2009 <http://www.spotsylvania.va.us/DownloadFiles/Minutes/bos/04122005.pdf>.)) That was a 3.5% increase in taxes for county residents.
So, in two years, Onorato voted to raise county residents taxes by 4.7%. Unfortunately, only in one of those cases was a tax increase averted.
If Spotsylvania County residents don’t want to see their taxes go up once again, vote for D.J. McGuire in November.