Our Virginia Beach City Council’s self-serving nonsense: “…budget deficits are primarily caused by reduced real estate tax revenues.”
Our Virginia Beach City Council continues with the same nonsense put forward years ago. In response to a citizen’s complaint about having to pay a trash pick-up fee while council is planning to spend huge amounts of our tax dollars on major projects – headquarters hotel, Dome Site and light rail – Mr. Hansen (Deputy City Manager) replied, “As we have seen a few of these type citizen objections I wanted to provide you an assessment of the real estate tax burden impact using this specific citizen’s circumstances. Please recall that our recent budget deficits are primarily caused by reduced real estate tax revenues.”
Two important points:
First, notice the comment, “these type citizen objections.” Sounds like a put-down to me. Mr. Hansen seems to say: A few uninformed people complain about their taxes. So what? They are wrong anyway.
Second, he states, ”Please recall that our recent budget deficits are primarily caused by reduced real estate tax revenues.” What a complete absurdity!
Who controls our budget? City council. Who decides how much to spend? City council.
We have a deficit because council spends too much.
This is not the first time city staff and council have tried this absurd nonsense.
As I reported in the Fall of 2009 in an article titled, “The Deficit is Your Fault,” staff and council said the same nonsense.
(The first several paragraphs of the 2009 article are copied below – remember, 2 years ago.)
The deficit in Virginia Beach is all your fault, you tightfisted taxpayers. Who says so? The Virginia Beach City Council, during a presentation of the city’s latest five-year forecast, says so.
The Virginia Beach Director of Management Resources presented the 2009 five-year forecast to City Council on Tuesday, November 14 (2009). The report identified the revenue sources that are decreasing and are anticipated to continue decreasing over the next several years.
One of the charts in the power-point presentation showed the projected deficit between revenue and expenditures over the five-year period. Under the graph is the statement, “This forecast is driven predominantly by declines in revenue.” At another point in the presentation, the director stated again that the deficit is driven by the decrease in revenue.
The presentation tried to put the burden on the taxpayers. The presentation did not, as it should have, stated that the deficit is due to a decrease in revenues AND an increase in expenditures.
The presentation highlighted two approaches to close the deficit. First if there is an increase in revenue: A chart showed, “If lost revenue was made up by an increase in real estate and personal property taxes,” the deficit could be reduced.
A second approach was to maintain expenditures level. The presentation showed, “If the expenditures were level, the gap would be reduced from $84.4 million to $61.1 million.” And, this approach would mean “no compensation increases for four more years” for city staff and any increases “would have to be absorbed through other reductions to offset.”
Well fellow tightfisted taxpayer, are you beginning to get the message? Ready for your next real estate tax increase, garbage collection fee and possibly other fees to close the deficit rather then reducing spending?
(End of copy of 2009 article.)
In his current e-mail, Mr. Hansen states in part regarding the FY12/13 assessment,
“….we will be able to determine a City wide percentage of reduced real estate taxes our citizens and businesses have had over this period. It is my belief that the City wide real estate reduction for this period will be even greater …”
What does this imply? Because the real estate assessment will decrease council needs a higher real state tax rate. Don’t even ask council to cut spending. Got it, taxpayers?
So, why the e-mail from Mr. Hansen? Apparently, they are laying the groundwork to say that because the deficit is caused by the complaining, tightfisted taxpayers they (the complaining, tightfisted taxpayers) will just have to pay more.
The apparent message FROM our council: We know what’s best; we want these major projects. You taxpayers just shut up and pay higher real estate taxes and/or new and increased fees whenever we tell you.
Message TO council: Increase our real estate taxes and fees and lose your seat on council.