SHORE THING: A$K the Mayor
By GEORGE SOUTHERN
Cape Charles Wave
November 14, 2013
Before I started causing trouble in Cape Charles, I was causing trouble in Northern Virginia. Over the years we lived in the City of Alexandria, the County of Arlington, the County of Fairfax, and the City of Falls Church. Each of those municipalities offers many attractions, but there is one thing none of them has that Cape Charles does have: double taxation.
That’s right. In Virginia, if you live in a city you pay city taxes; if you live in a county you pay county taxes. Only in towns is there an opportunity to pay double taxes.
There is a little town in Fairfax County with the prestigious name of Vienna. One day I called the Town of Vienna’s information officer to ask: Why does it cost the taxpayer 22 percent more to live in Vienna than just outside the town line in Fairfax County? She immediately answered: “Access — you can call the Mayor on a Sunday afternoon.”
Vienna’s real estate tax rate is 22.88 cents per hundred dollars. Cape Charles, at 27.74 cents, is 17 percent higher. So – if you see where I’m going with this – shouldn’t my mayoral access be mighty good here in Cape Charles?
I had a question for Mayor Sullivan last July. The Town Gazette had just published a “Message from the Mayor” (click here to read) stating that “the Water and Sewer Fund broke even over the last three fiscal years.” I asked the Mayor how that could be, when the 2013 budget showed that the Water and Sewer Fund required a transfer of $172,500 from the General Fund. The Mayor deigned not to answer my question. (Perhaps I should have called her on a Sunday afternoon.)
So I asked our Town Manager, Heather Arcos. To her credit, she said she would check and get back to me. The next day – well, let the emails tell the story:
For readers who made it this far, tell me — did I get my $87.66 worth? Because that’s what the Town charged me for asking the Mayor a question — a question that required 3.5 staff hours to document that “the last three fiscal years” doesn’t include the most recent fiscal year, which ended June 30, 2013.
The Assistant Town Manager took half an hour to write that, the Clerk spent half an hour on the email, and the Treasurer devoted 2 1/2 hours to find the same information Mr. Panek said was “pulled” from the audit reports for the Mayor’s Message.
And yes, I learned my lesson — no further questions, Madame Mayor.
SHORE THING is an occasional feature of the Cape Charles Wave.