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Op-Ed: PTA Urges Passing the Meals Tax

by RestonNow.com October 5, 2016 at 1:00 pm 27 Comments

This is an op-ed by Tony Shivers, Vice President of Advocacy for the 
Fairfax County Council of PTAs (FCCPTA). It does not reflect the opinion of Reston Now.

FCCPTAAs Vice President of Advocacy of the Fairfax County Council of PTAs, I urge my fellow parents, residents, and business owners to vote YES for the non-partisan meals tax on Nov. 8.

For just a few pennies more:

  • A 4-percent tax on prepared meals will generate $100 million for schools and county services, with $28 million being paid by tourists and visitors to Fairfax;
  • FCPS will receive 70 percent of those revenues to help stem the loss of our best teachers and address classroom size;
  • County services will receive 30 percent of net revenues to address unmet public safety needs and those of our libraries and parks;
  • Fairfax County can diversify its tax base and relieve property tax pressure on homeowners while maintaining its AAA bond rating; and capture revenue from travelers and non-resident workers that utilize County programs and services.

Why a meals tax, rather than a tax on cigarettes or alcohol? The answer is simple. Virginia state law strictly limits the taxing authority of its counties — a meals tax is the only option at this level of government.

Why not pursue state funding? The short answer is that our children will be grown by the time state funding is brought to an appropriate level for Fairfax County. The state continues to push more of the cost of K-12 education back to localities. Fairfax County estimates that the shortfall in state funding for K-12 education has climbed to more than $1 billion annually since 2009.

In fact, the reliability of the state money promised to education is now in question. Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe recently advised the state legislature that that Commonwealth may experience as much as a $1.5 billion revenue shortfall in its two-year budget.

Historically, PTA is an advocacy organization, and the efforts of parents have resulted in immunizations, school lunches, child labor laws, among other accomplishments. PTAs do not promote candidates for election, but they do promote issues which benefit children.

Virginia PTA supports any meals tax where 50 percent of the revenue goes to public schools. Here in Fairfax the proposed meals tax would do far more.

The PTA’s motto is “Every Child. One Voice.” All Fairfax County children need the best education our community can deliver. Parents, please vote yes for your children. Vote yes for the meals tax.

Tony Shivers
Vice President of Advocacy
Herndon, VA

  • One Really

    I love this line:

    “For just a few pennies more:

    A 4-percent tax on prepared meals will generate $100 million for schools and county services, with $28 million being paid by tourists and visitors to Fairfax;”

    Ok, I know this is a really quick estimate on my part.

    I have a $10 daily budget for breakfast/lunch. I work say 240 days a year this includes taken off for vacation, holiday, sick, etc.

    I spend $2,400 in meals. You know at all the favs. Chiptole, Arbys, Chick-fil-A, a salad at Subway, etc. That’s 96 extra dollars.
    That would be just for breakfast/lunch.
    Now if my family of 5 goes out to eat once a week. On average the bill is around $80 . That’s 3 dollars x 50 (say we we miss two weeks). That would be an additional $150+.
    In total thats:
    150 + 96 = 150 ish
    Not exactly pennies.

    • One Really

      Sorry,correction meant to say 250 ish as a total.

    • Greg

      Pinch the pennies, and the dollars take care of themselves — or in the case of this wasteful county, pinch the millions, and the billions will take care of themselves.

    • JP

      It seems Fairfax County is not the only party guilty of fiscal irresponsibility…

      • One really

        “fiscal irresponsibility” would be me over spending with money I don’t have. Running up a huge credit card debit. I have a surplus after every paycheck and at the end of the year.
        Fiscal irresponsibility would be me dining out every night and asking everyone else to pay for it.

  • Country of beggars

    FCPS got a 5% increase for schools and over 50% of the budget goes to the school, which is over 2 billion.

    Are you not ashamed begging for more?

    When people realise how much they spend on outside eating and how fat they are, they will stop eating out and hit the gym. Will there be a gym tax? Where does this stop?

    • Mike M

      Shame? They are downright smugly self-righteous.

  • Mike M

    So your arguments are:
    1) We are raising taxes on you, but we can also augment that by dipping into the pockets of those who don’t school their kids here.
    CA1) Why not live just within the county’s means? I mean, you know you really have a problem when you boast of getting other people to pay your mismanaged way.

    2) . . . to help stem the loss of our best teachers and address classroom size.
    CA2) You have not even quantified what you think these goals will take, nor have you committed to any specific goals. I know an empty promise when I smell it. Tell me again why you can’t do that with $2B?

    3) County services will receive 30 percent of net revenues to address unmet public safety needs and those of our libraries and parks.
    CA3) Sure! More money is always better. But better management is the key. How about cull your “needs” and live within your means.

    4) Fairfax County can diversify its tax base.
    4A) This is not diversification it is a tax increase. Wanna diversify? Offset the property tax. The “diversification” argument is flat out dishonest.

    6) Why not pursue state funding? Can’t get it.
    6A) Fire Ken Plum and Terry McAuliife. Don’t ask me to subsidize their ineffectiveness.

    7) Why a meals tax, rather than a tax on cigarettes or alcohol? Can’t.
    7A So, true to form an addict will try everything they can to feed their addiction until they have to face up.

    Face up, Shivers! We’ll say no. The County will have to manage.

    • 30yearsinreston

      Fire Ken Plum .
      Sounds good to me

  • ano

    Best plan: Diversify revenue by charging fees directly to public school students and eliminate property taxes entirely. Problem solved. These freeloading breeders should pay what they owe.

    • Mike M

      Breeders? You mean normal adults living a full and natural life?
      I’ll bet you are a 20-something who will be the most overprotective parent ever. You will expect the whole world to bow to YOUR little Herkimer. I’ve seen it too many times.

    • SoyGringo

      Totally agree…. folks here love to whine about paying for children born here to undocumented parents, but when it come to me subsidizing their own little urchins they have no problem digging into my pockets.

      • One Really

        I would have no problem in paying for private school if public wasnt available.
        When you have your special angel will you start crying about education cost and then want to dig into my pockets?

    • clambj

      Miraculously, you two somehow skipped being born and raised by “breeders” of your own. Amazing.

  • Chuck Morningwood

    4% Meals Tax + $312,000,000 in Bond Initiatives. I’m going to vote “No” to all of it.

    • Guest

      So much for your love of parks.

      Everyone else: whatever you think of the meals tax, follow that link and read Bill Bouie’s responses about the 2016 bonds. He’s on the money.

      • Walter Hadlock

        I read the link. He’s “on the money” all right. When all is said and done, the average resident of the county really has no opportunity to suggest what Park Bond funds should go for. By the time the bond issue is publicized, the money has been committed.

      • Chuck Morningwood

        I love my parks. I’m just not prepared to sell my future and my kids future for them.

  • Robert Mowbray

    It is a regressive tax.

    • TrollHunter

      It’s already been proved that it isn’t a regressive tax.

  • Keltic

    They can’t manage their budget now so why pay this tax! Increase revenue by making cat owners register their animals just as dog owners must do. Problem solved!

  • RoadApples

    For Mrs.RoadApples and myself: We will vote No to the meals tax referendum.
    Upon review of our Fairfax County yearly property taxes vs. our yearly expenditures for meals at Fairfax County restaurants:
    It is less expensive for us to incur a property tax increase (which would include a modest tax deduction) vs. the proposed 4% meals tax.

  • 30yearsinreston

    I’m voting NO
    I gave with the property tax
    Live within your means
    FCPS haa lost its lustre

  • Scott H

    Do not believe this lie. When politicians invoke “the kids” or any emotional argument, it’s always a bait and switch.
    If passed, the BoS will use part of the meals tax to fund FCPS, but slowly divert other revenue away from FCPS. It happens every time.

    The county spent $7.13B last year.
    The BoS raised property taxes $100M last year.
    Now they claim they need another $100M.
    $100M represents 1.4% of the budget.

    We do not have a revenue problem. We have a SPENDING problem.
    Cut 1.4% of the budget and keep your damn hands out of our pockets!

  • Ed Cacciapaglia

    Just vote NO on the Meals Tax. I might support a nominal, say 0.25% increase in the income tax for those earning over $100,000, but the meals tax hurts restaurant workers, owners and patrons. And from what I’ve read the tax is broadly based to cover “take out” meals including those we buy at the grocery store.

  • The PTA …. They are just a voice for the liberal nuts. Wake up people you are going to pay the meals tax on coffee and stand alone beer…. In Henrico County I still get stupid places that charges the meals tax in violation of the law on coffee and smoothies. Your stupid Govetnment has just created a loop hole. If this passes your smart business caterer will simply open the business location in a county with out a meals tax and bill from that county putting all the other restaurants at a 4% disadvantage,,,,,, ha ha ha. I just exposed the loop hole

  • Greg

    And, as widely predicted, the schools are crying poverty and begging for even larger amounts:

    “Fairfax County school administrators have begun pleading their case for a $134 million boost in funding for the next school year, signaling that they want to increase teacher salaries while also grappling with burgeoning pension and health-care costs.”

    Keep these thieves out of your wallets, purses and bank accounts!



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