The Ghost of Snapped Shot

Or, welcome to my low-maintenance heck.

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Sharon Bulova's Fairfax County

What better idea could there possibly be for a county that is $650 million dollars in debt than for our wonderfuly capable elected officials to attempt and spend $100 million dollars on a new building (that benefits only government employees, to boot!)—

Fairfax County school officials, after being rebuffed by the Board of Supervisors on a plan to renovate and buy a new administrative building, are again seeking approval after reducing the cost by millions of dollars.

The School Board has renegotiated the price tag to acquire the Gatehouse II building from $110 million to $94.5 million. The board wants to use it to consolidate administrative offices scattered throughout the county, which they argue will save money long-term and free up much-needed space for instruction.


That's the funny thing about unaccountable bureaucracies—No matter how tough times are for we taxpayers, the system will always demand more.

That's alright, though. All of the rich New Yorkers we have moving to the county will be delighted to shirk these taxes, I'm sure.

  #YeOldeDominion


Comments:

#1 captainfish 12-Feb-2009
As I am sure you know Brian, the government never has a problem with not having enough money. That is preposterous. Heck, if the Feds can just create it out of thin air, then it is good enough for the local officials.

I mean, it is all fake money anyway. Not like it hurts anyone.
#2 Um 12-Feb-2009
Why don't you read the whole article that articulates how money will be saved, other leases will end and more. Of course. Cherry pick what suits your POV.
#3 Brian C. Ledbetter 13-Feb-2009
Um,

If Fairfax County had a long history of reducing costs and increasing efficiency, I obviously would have pointed out that part of the article.

Sadly, the County does not—Being a [i]half-billion[/i] dollars in the hole doesn't exactly speak to the County's wise financial decisions.

This purchase, if it is approved, will inevitably cost at least $20 million more than what the School Board claims it will cost, and someone along the line will find an excuse to maintain the leases on the other buildings, resulting in a net loss.

Fairfax County would be well served if our public "servants" would remember once in a while that they are [i]not[/i] entitled to luxurious office space. If the School Board were serious about saving money, and weren't so committed to [i]surrounding themselves with luxury[/i], they'd find a nice $10 million building in Springfield, instead of trying to increase the County's debt by 33% (or [i]4.7 times[/i] the rate of inflation).

Regards,
Brian
#4 Roost3r 13-Feb-2009
Brian (if that's his real name) is notoriously known for his cherry picking of the facts in his articles to suit his ultimate argument of persuasion. Typical Republican liar.
#5 Brian C. Ledbetter 13-Feb-2009
LOL! You got me there, rooster. My name is really Joe.

;)
#6 Um 13-Feb-2009
So the $650 million projected deficit is all the county's fault, eh? Nothing to do with plummeting real estate values? Foreclosures? Fewer commercial taxes? Less spending at stores, so less revenue for the coffers? No rising increases such as fuel? No rising costs in building materials? No increased health care costs? No unfunded mandates from the state and feds? Nooooooo....none of those things could possibly be considered in your cherry-picked world. Nothing like that or the worst economic conditions of our lifetime affecting every local jurisdiction. No, not a national, state or local trend. Nope, not at all, eh?
#7 Brian C. Ledbetter 14-Feb-2009
Um,

Is it the "Worst Economic Conditions Of Our Lifetime's" fault that Fairfax County has approved multimillion dollar bonds (i.e., "increasing County debt") in every (p30) recent (p4) election (p7) in (p4) memory (p15)? And on (p3) and on (p5), etc. etc.?

Because, as far as I can tell, each and every one of these [i]debt-increasing bond issues[/i] were all brought to the ballot by our short-sighted [i]Board of Supervisors[/i].

Which, incidentally, is the same Democratic-dominated BOS that can't seem to figure out how to [i]cut[/i] county budget (and a hint: cutting [i]increases[/i] in budget doesn't count).

I know you'd love to suggest that this is merely a symptom of the national trend, but the reality is the same now as it always was: [b]All Politics Is [u]Local[/u][/b].

Regards,
Brian
#8 Um 14-Feb-2009
Brian,

So you'd prefer those bonds not pass? Forget road improvements, eh? Let Fairfax just continue down the path of receiving 20 cents for every dollar from the state because the GOP-dominated assembly loves to suck at the financial nipple of the county, but hates to give back? That's the county's fault, too, right? Those road improvements are critical while the state GOP continues to be a literal roadblock.

And where do you get the information that the BOS can't cut a budget? You're going to see some dramatic cuts in a few weeks. Citizens will feel the pain.

Of course, all politics is local, but you can't ignore the economic climate that everyone is facing across the country. It's truly trickle-down.

Finally, where or what would you cut from the county's budget:

http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/dmb/adopted/FY2009/PDF/Volume1/where_goes_pie_chart.PDF

I'd be curious to hear your savings plan.
#9 Brian C. Ledbetter 14-Feb-2009
Um,

Bonds are debt. If we can't afford to build things with the money we [i]have[/i], then perhaps we don't [i]need[/i] it that badly. We definitely don't need it badly enough to saddle every resident in this County over the next [i]60 years[/i] with the payments, do we?

Government is [i]supposed[/i] to survive on less, [i]particularly[/i] in times of financial hardship.

Oh, and blaming Richmond might make you feel better in the short term, but it really doesn't do anything to [i]solve[/i] the County's problems. If we need to restructure things to get beyond the limitations of the Dillon Rule, then [i]do[/i] it. Stop using Dillon as an excuse for all of the County's financial problems.

By the way, I'm absolutely fine with increased local taxes, [i]if[/i] they're going to construction programs. Sadly, the reality is that the Board would undoubtedly find a way to move all of the increased revenue into the General Fund, where it will be siphoned off into plenty of other politically-expedient expenditures.

Regarding the budget you just listed, it's curious to note that (a) County employees will be receiving [b]$205.8 million[/b] in "benefits." How many employees does the County have on staff? How much does that work out to per capita? Does it amount to considerably more than what Fairfax County's private sector receives as "benefits?"

Also, what exactly is a "Comm. Svc. Bd.?" And why does it require [b]$103.7 million[/b] in funding?

And, of course, can the County [i]really[/i] afford to be spending [b]$189.1 million[/b] on "family services," particularly when the Federal and State governments provide similar services to the "underserved?"

Of course, pie charts are nice and all, but they don't really get to the [i]detail[/i] of where this money is going. So I challenge you to tell [i]us[/i] where the above disbursements are getting sent to?

You've made plenty of angry challenges in my direction. Now it's [i]your[/i] turn to pony up.

Regards,
Brian
#10 Brian C. Ledbetter 14-Feb-2009
As an aside, it's worth pointing out that the [b]bond-related[/b] portion of the County budget you linked to is:

[b]$113,167,164[/b] "Debt" - i.e., the cost of [i]servicing[/i] your preferred bonds, [i]per year[/i]. A cost which will continue to increase as the bonds come due, incidentally.

[b]$154,600,000[/b] "School debt" - Which is the same as above, but is split out into the Education department's budget.

This makes a total of $260 [i]million[/i] dollars that we would not have had to spend, if our predecessors (most of whom remain on the Board today) had not saddled us with it.

Food for thought, if nothing else. Nothing's free, even if you defer it.

Regards,
Brian
#11 Brian C. Ledbetter 14-Feb-2009
Oh, and to restate my position on this matter as clearly as possible:

[i]Saddling future generations with [u]our[/u] excessive spending is [b]not[/b] sound fiscal policy.[/i]

Regards,
Brian
#12 captainfish 15-Feb-2009
OHHHH Brian is on a tear. Get out of the way people!! I've seen him like this before. He blew up a whole island in the Pacific once.

Brian. I agree whole-heartedly. The Government should also be cutting back just as the citizens are. Why is it an accepted fact that as our economy goes down, it is ok that the government raise our taxes to fund more unnecessary programs? Like art or sexual-wellness? Any one hear of "Just Say No"?

The local governments need to be involved in only a couple of things.

Road construction
Defense
Emergency preparedness
Monitoring education
Assuring fair elections
Law enforcement
Fire protection
Libraries

If we are going to continue to become a socialist nation, then I demand two ricks of seasoned wood and one rick of green wood for my fireplace. I demand that they come and jack up my sinking foundation. I demand that they come in and change my air filters (car and home). I demand that they take me to and from work at a time I designate. I demand that all food is free and delivered to my door. I demand that all my art be paid for and my time spent being creative is reimbursed.

My other demands will come up next bond season.
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