Our Virginia Beach City Council has presented the citizens of Virginia Beach with a perfect example of political manipulation. In a well orchestrated two-step process, Council pressured the city school board to join in the request for the real estate tax rate increase that council wanted. Then several council members conspired to bury the DeSteph/Moss budget proposal under a substitute motion.
Step one: During recent years, our School Board successfully managed the allocated funds and retained a substantial reserve fund. Our city council, unable or unwilling to mange city expenditures and wanting additional funds, took money from the school board reserve fund for council projects. Then council discontinued the use of the formula and set a fixed amount for the school board for the fiscal year.
The school board replied that the amount allocated was not enough.
Council, continuing the well-designed ploy, replied to the board: That’s all you will get. If you want more, you will have to request an increase in real estate taxes. Mayor Sessoms, because he is up for re-election this fall, (apparently looking for someone to blame for a tax increase) said that the board should share the political burden of asking Virginia Beach residents for a tax increase.
During the last several months, council members DeSteph and Moss crafted a proposal to eliminate a number of expenditures and balance the budget without raising the real estate tax rate.
Step two: At the city Council meeting of May 8, council considered both proposals (Sessoms tax rate increase and the DeSteph/Moss). Councilman Davis then initiated the next ploy. He made the notion to consider and vote on the DeSteph/Moss budget proposal. Subsequently, another council member offered the Sessoms budget with the six cent tax rate increase as a substitute motion. (Apparently, several council members had discussed this ploy and contrived to pretend to consider both proposals before selecting the Sessoms tax rate increase.)
After some discussion, council voted in favor of a the Sessoms tax rate increase and they effectively pushed the proposal with no tax rate increases aside.
That final vote demonstrated several important points: Some members of our council wanted the tax rate increase; they planned how to manipulate the school board; and they contrived with some of their fellow council members to bypass the other proposal because it did not have a tax increase.
Apparently, several of our council members had no qualms about manipulating school board members and fellow council members to accomplish their real estate tax rate increase.
Citizens should remember that our mayor wanted a tax increase last year and, apparently, did not give up pushing for his favorite thing – a tax increase. Also, as stated in the city 5-year forecast, our real estate assessments will decline again next year. Will our mayor push for another real estate tax rate increase to offset that decline in tax revenue?
Voters should “manipulate” these political manipulators – throw them out of our city council. We deserve better than these skilled, practiced manipulators.