Gainesville Supervisor Peter Candland took issue with County Executive Melissa Peacor's assessment of his flat tax bill proposal Tuesday, saying that he found "numerous assumption errors" and "mathematical errors" in Peacor's report.
Several members of the Board took exception to Candland's remarks—and also voted 5-3 to have staff prepare a report with what the tax rate needs to be to adhere to Prince William County's current five-year plan. The plan would include a 4 percent rising tax rate to account for inflation. The Board will make a final decision on funding for fiscal year 2014 in the spring.
“All I’m asking is that we do like every other family in Prince William County who has had to cut back on the things that they spend their money on, that we keep our spending flat from one year to another,” said Candland, who voted along with Chairman Corey Stewart and Supervisor Wally Covington against the directive.
'I Would be Fired, No Questions Asked'
Candland took direct aim at Peacor's assessment of his proposal, which at a recent Board meeting, he said would keep taxes flat by taking the average amount of "carryover funds" from each year, and incorporating cuts proposed by Stewart.
"It is very clear to me that the report delivered by the county executive last week is terribly biased toward a flat tax proposal," he said. "It’s unfortunate that we’ve gotten to this point, with the evidence before me, I have no confidence—and I would underscore that—I have no confidence that the county executive is going to be able to prepare an honest analysis of my flat tax proposal."
At last week's meeting, Peacor said that Candland's proposal would lead to a multi-million dollar revenue descrease over the next five years.
Among his complaints, Candland said the proposal he put forward did not introduce $195 million in new school spending, as staff stated at last week's meeting. He also Peacor made a "billion dollar mistake" during her critical needs presentation, in estimating the cost of new fire stations, which should only be $135 million, not over a billion dollars.
Candland said that he produces reports in his private job and that "...if I made these kinds of basic math errors...If I made several significant assumption errors that were made next week, I would be fired, no questions asked."
'Your Budget Committee is Despicable'
Candland's comments sparked an immediate, emotionally charged discussion among the Board members, many of whom affirmed their support for Peacor.
“I think Mr. Candland is out of order tonight in personally attacking the county executive and you owe her an apology," said John Jenkins, Neabsco supervisor. He said rules of procedure indicate that Peacor should have had the opportunity to address Candland's concerns before the meeting.
“There’s nothing personal about this, Mr. Jenkins," Candland replied. "I am speaking not only for myself, but also the budget committtee. I think that the analysis that was done not only shorts the process, but also shorts all those people who put their time in, without pay."
Maureen Caddigan, Potomac District Supervisor, retorted that Candland's budget committee consisted of "bloggers," many of whom were "associated with your office."
“These people who have crucified our county executive and defamed each member of this board, we do know them by name, we do know who they are," Caddigan said. "And it is disgraceful that they are going to twist our arms, put us out of office, so they can be behind Candland so he can run for chairman. I don’t want to be a small person here, but your budget committee is despicable and I will not be behind your budget.”
Many of those present broke into applause, although later that night, the blogosphere lit up with responses from members of the committee.
Coles District Supervisor Martin Nohe said that he had agreed with Peacor's conclusions, and that if errors were made, that Candland should have made his recommendations clearer.
Occoquan Supervisor Michael May said that he did not think the staff had a bias against a flat tax, and he had some concerns about whether Candland's plan balanced. He said that staff may have come to different conclusions because they were considering the county's five-year plan.