Arthur Purves
Republican for Chairman
Fairfax County Board of Supervisors
Pronunciation Guide: "Purves" rhymes with "service"

"It is when people forget God that tyrants forge their chains." - Patrick Henry

Results of the November 3, 2015, Election

CandidateVotes ReceivedPercentageBudget
Sharon Bulova (D-Incumbent)111,27360%$392,424
Arthur Purves (R)63,05134%$16,811
Gail Parker (Ind Green)10,9006%$5
Voter turnout: Only 28.6% or 185,224 voters of Fairfax County's 648,568 registered voters voted in the race for chairman of the Board of Supervisors.

Thank you to my volunteers, contributors, the Fairfax County Republican Committee, civic organizations that sponsored candidate forums, and to the media that covered the campaign. A special thank you goes to the Sun-Gazette, the Fairfax League of Women Voters for their Meet and Greet forums, and to the Connection newspapers for their comprehensive voters' guide.

The following are responses to statements in the campaign brochure, Re-Elect Sharon Bulova for Chairman:  Leadership You Can Trust:

Campaign brochure:  "As chairman, Sharon has kept taxes affordable ..." Response:  For 16 years real estate taxes for the typical homeowner have increased three times faster than household income, from $2400 in 2000 to $5700 now, a 140% increase. Inflation over the same period was 49%.

Campaign brochure:  "Sharon has ensured a positive, business firendly climate ..."
Response:  According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, of the 342 largest counties in the U.S., Fairfax County's job 0.5% growth last year was close to the bottom.

Campaign brochure:  "Under her leadership, Fairfax County has maintained its triple-Aaa credit rating ..."
Response:  Moody's has given Fairfax County's Aaa bond rating a negative outlook, due to underfunded pensions and spending $78.6M from reserves in FY2013 and FY2014 to pay for raises.

Campaign brochure:  "Sharon will make sure our children continue to receive a world-class education."
Response:  According to the 2015 ACT college admissions test results for Fairfax County, only 59% of the 4900 Fairfax County Public Schools seniors tested were prepared for college. The number prepared varies from 98% for Thomas Jefferson to 20% for Mt. Vernon High School. The variance is due to the Democrat-controlled school board's 30-year failure to raise Hispanic and African-American achievement.

Campaign brochure:  "Sharon is committed to an efficient transportation network ..."
Response:  Maintenance of the now unsafe and unreliable Metrorail system was neglected to build the Silver Line. There was money for the Silver Line (cost:  $6B construction + $5B financing), but there was no money for fixing the I-66-Rt 28 interchange or widening Rt 7. Washington DC has the worst traffic gridlock in the nation.

Campaign brochure:  "This past year, Sharon created the Ad Hoc Police Practices Review Commission ... to enhance public safety ..."
Response:  The commission was established to divert attention from the supervisors' unexplained 17-month silence while the police department refused to disclose the details of the August 29, 2013, police shooting of John Geer, an unarmed civilian.  Do the supervisors control the police department or does the police department control the supervisors?

Campaign brochure:  Fairfax County will become a leader in mental health diversion to "... keep people suffering from mental illness out of jail..."
Response:  Why did the supervisors wait until after the Feb. 2, 2014, death in the jail of a mentally ill inmate, Natasha McKenna, to start a diversion program?

For the last 16 years, real estate taxes have been increasing three times faster than household income.

The supervisors, who are up for election on November 3, determine real estate taxes. Higher real estate taxes mean higher escrow payments and, because landlords have to pay real estate tax, higher rents.

Between 2000 and 2016, the supervisors will have increased the typical homeowner's real estate tax from $2400 to $5700.

For the past 16 years, almost 70% of county and school spending increases have been for raises and benefits. Salary increases for about 30,000 school and county employees have averaged 4% per year for the past 16 years.  Benefits include "Cadillac" health plans that will be fined under Obamacare and pensions with retirement at age 55 with 75% of salary.

Increased population, school enrollment, and more low-income and non-English-speaking students account for less than 30% of the spending increases.

Revenue from the real estate tax hikes was not enough to pay for the salary increases and benefits. So the supervisors cut staffing for parks and libraries, and the school board increased class size three times. That still wasn't enough, so the supervisors spent $79M from reserves for raises, thus jeopardizing the county's triple-A bond rating. Moody's has given Fairfax County's AAA bond rating a negative outlook.

In FY2017 the county and schools want to increase spending by $240M, of which 70% is for salary increases (4% for school and 3.5% for county employees), health care, and pensions. An argument for the 4% raises is that Fairfax County is losing teachers to Arlington County, which pays more. An alternative might be to use retention bonuses or merit pay. Paying all employees the premium required to retain the best employees is expensive.

Without a real estate tax hike, revenues are projected to increase by only $20M. To pay for the remaining $220M with a real estate tax hike would require a 9% real estate tax increase, which would increase the typical homeowner's real estate tax by $500 to $6200. A 9% post-election tax hike is possible if Chairman Bulova is reelected; there was an 8% real estate tax hike last year.

Fairfax raises salaries to compete with neighboring local governments, but our neighbors raise their salaries to compete with Fairfax. In this race, neighboring jurisdictions are also raising taxes faster than incomes and jeopardizing the Washington area economy. Arlington has higher real estate taxes than Fairfax County. IRS data shows that Montgomery, Prince Georges, and Arlington Counties and Alexandria City along with Fairfax County, are seeing a net out-migration of taxpayer Adjusted Gross Income.

Since 2000, real estate taxes have been increasing an average of 5.6% annually while county and school salaries increased an average of 4% annually. Now teachers and police cannot afford the taxes that were raised for their benefit.

Mr. Purves believes that raising real estate taxes faster than household income and a new meals tax, which Chairman Bulova supports, are unaffordable taxes that jeopardize the economic success of Fairfax County.  Chairman Bulova, who describes herself as a "pro-business Democrat" believes that these tax increases are affordable.  The choice is yours.

The Fairfax Area Commission on Aging "... projects a huge increase in [Fairfax County's] 50+ population! Between 2010 and 2030, the 50+ population should increase by 19 percent, the 65+ population by 51 percent, and the 70+ population by 55 percent."

Increasing real estate tax hikes faster than household income jeopardizes the ability of the county's increasing number of seniors to remain in their homes.

Fairfax County's economy is weak:
  • The IRS has documented that between 2000 and 2014 Fairfax County lost $8B in Adjusted Gross Income due to taxpayer out-migration.  Most of the loss was to Prince William and Loudoun counties.
  • In 2014, more people moved out of Fairfax County than moved in.
  • According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Fairfax County's 0.5% job growth last year was close to the smallest of all major counties in the U.S.
  • The county's commercial office vacancy rate at the end of 2014 was 17.7 percent, the highest since 1991.
  • Most new jobs in Fairfax County are low-wage jobs.
  • The percentage of real estate taxes paid by businesses is 19%, down from 25% in 2001.

The Fairfax County Economic Development Authority tax fact sheet takes six pages to describe taxes owed by a Fairfax County business. Also, Fairfax County's slow permitting and regulatory process discourages businesses growth and jobs.

Virginia is just one of a few states that still has a gross receipts (BPOL) tax, which requires businesses to pay taxes even if they lose money. Virginia itself has fallen from first to fourth in Forbes' ranking of business-friendly states.

Most spending increases go to Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS), since of the 30,000 county and school employees, about 20,000 work for the schools.

Since 2000 FCPS enrollment increased 22% while the FCPS budget increased 100%. Even after adjusting for inflation FCPS spending outpaced enrollment 38% to 22%.

School officials say that since 2008 the school budget has been cut by $500M and 2000 positions. False. School budget requests were cut. The budget increased by $350M and 1000 positions. If school spending had increased another $500M, the average real estate tax would be $6700 instead of $5700.

According to the 2015 ACT college admissions test, only 59% (53% in 2014, 54% in 2013) of FCPS seniors are prepared for college. The number prepared varies greatly among high schools.  Higher taxes do not improve achievement; better curricula would.

Metrorail is unreliable and unsafe because its maintenance was neglected to build the Silver Line. The Washington Metropolitan Transit Authority (WMATA), which runs Metrorail, has a $6B FY2016-FY2021 Capital Improvement Plan. However WMATA has not responded to questions about how much of the plan is funded. Nor does it say how much of the last Metro Matters capital improvement plan was funded. The 2013 state legislation (HB2313) that provides $300M in new transportation funding annually to Northern Virginia specifies that the money must be used on new construction and cannot be used for maintenance.

Commuters and taxpayers are paying $5B of the $6B cost of the Silver Line construction plus $5B in debt service, while landowners who have made billions from increased land values are paying $1B. Dulles Toll Road daily commuters saw their annual tolls increase $1300 between 2005 and 2014 and face an additional $600 toll increase in three years

Commuters face additional tax increases in the form of new tolls on I-66. The McAuliffe administration proposed I-66 tolls inside the Beltway that would cost the daily commuter $4200 annually ($9 eastbound and $8 westbound during rush hour) with no promise to improve roads. There should be no tolling of I-66 inside or outside the Beltway, even if that means there will be no road improvements. The taxes we already pay should be sufficient to cover transportation improvements.

Infrastructure is a casualty of overextended entitlements and an inefficient and expensive public education system. The Federal government built Dulles Airport and the original Metrorail system. Now there is less Federal transportation funding due to the increasing cost of Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. Similarly whenever state revenues increase, the money goes to Medicaid, public schools and colleges, programs that are growing faster than population and inflation but delivering poor results. Only 41% of Virginia seniors are prepared for college (2015 ACT results), college graduates have a difficult time finding jobs, and Medicaid reimbursement rates are inadequate for doctors, nursing homes, and caregivers.

Fairfax County does not provide upward mobility for low-income residents. FCPS has made no progress in closing the minority student achievement gap in a quarter of a century. While African-American youth are 10% of the county's youth they are 37% of the jail population. Hispanics are 16% percent of the county's youth but comprise 36% of the jail population (2013 numbers).

Food stamp (now called SNAP) caseloads have doubled since 2008. While staffing for parks and libraries decreased by 112 positions since 2000, staffing for handling public assistance applications, such as SNAP and Medicaid increased by 145 positions to 354 positions.

When a policeman killed an unarmed citizen, John Geer, on August 29, 2013, the supervisors were silent as the police chief withheld from the Commonwealth Attorney, for 17 months, details of the shooting. When the Commonwealth Attorney turned the case over to the over to the U.S. Attorney in Alexandria, the police still withheld the information and the supervisors still remained silent, despite a letter from Senator Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) asking for the information to be released. Only after Geer's partner filed a $12M civil lawsuit against the Fairfax County police chief and a Fairfax County Circuit Court judge issued an order, did the police chief turn over details of the shooting. On April 21, 2015, the county settled the lawsuit by paying $2.95M to Geer's family.

On Feb. 2, 2014, a severely mentally ill woman was tasered four times and died in the Fairfax County Adult Detention Center.  Only after this incident did the county decide to implement a jail diversion program for the mentally ill and remove tasers from the jail. Mental illness affects more than forty percent of inmates in the jail.   Nevertheless the county considered and then abandoned a diversion plan in 2004.

The Board of Supervisors has chosen not to fund a $50M Five-Year Public Safety Staffing Plan for over two years since the plan was adopted.