OPINION / Al Alborn: It’s our money, not yours!
by Al Alborn
The Alborn Foundation
When I read this article in Yesterday’s Washington Post, Credit card use is scrutinized in Prince William schools, all I could do was a “head slap”
OK… I’m a small Government Libertarian. I could go on a rant about a Government construct limited to those things enumerated in the Constitution of the United States or the Virginia Constitution… but this isn’t about that.
I don’t mind paying taxes. That’s the price of a civil society. I understand that we need to pay for things like National Defense and public safety, a process to ensure a just world, some construct for doing business between states and nations, and some bureaucracy to collect revenue to pay for the aforementioned. I can live with that.
I object in paying too much taxes.
I particularly object when I see Government wasting my money… our money.
I’m noticing a lot of waste lately.
I have come to appreciate that Government at every level whether it be local, State, or Federal, does a careful calculus to figure out how to get as much of our money as possible using whichever story works with a particular constituency to use as they see fit.
Every time I see a cop on the street, a fire truck on its way to some emergency, or an EMT van heading for the hospital I recognize my tax dollars at work… in a “good way”. When I drive Route 234 from I95 to I66 or take the Prince William Parkway from Woodbridge to Manassas, I am grateful that our Government built these roads.
The “problem” is that after salaries are paid, public safety folks are equipped, and roads are build there are “leftovers”.
Since we have the highest real estate tax rate in the Commonwealth of Virginia, I’m not really thrilled by the fact that Prince William County, Virginia intentionally collects “too much” of our money every year. We have come to discover that Prince William County, Virginia has lots of “leftovers”.
I have the feeling that Prince William County Government and the Prince William County School System consider those “leftovers” theirs. I imagine in my mind that some (not all) County employees and elected officials view those “leftovers” as a basket full of $100 bills. It’s ok to “take a few” to pay for a favored group, a personal amusement, a treat for friends and families, a campaign event disguised as a donation (a “twofer”), or some other purpose that has nothing to do with the services we expect our Government to provide to its citizens.
(From the article) “Charges included 30 separate restaurant bills totaling $14,689. Four of the meals exceeded $1,500 each; the largest restaurant charges were budgeted under “travel” and included the On the Border meal in September 2009, and more than $1,600 for staff meals at Carrabba’s, one in May 2010 and another in August 2010, according to credit card statements.”
Give me a “*******” break!
I apologize to the majority of Prince William County employees who work hard to be good stewards of our money. This blog post isn’t for you. You know I’m right.
As for those who have their hand in the basket, I expect your managers to cut that hand off (figuratively… in some Middle-Eastern Countries perhaps more literally), You should be fired and barred from public service for your failure to understand what it means to be stewards of our tax dollars.
A manager or Chief Executive of any organization who allows any employee to violate the public trust by using tax dollars for any personal purpose should be fired with extreme prejudice for failing to ensure that a process is in place to review the use of taxpayer dollars.
This is particularly true when it comes to Government issued credit cards. the potential abuse of an automated system for allowing any employee to dip into that basket of $100 bills is just too great to ignore. I question any issuance of Government plastic to make spending our tax dollars easier preferring the more complex system of submitting purchase orders in advance and reporting expenses for reimbursement after the fact. Both allow for much better oversight.
As for those we elect to provide oversight, governance and a good example to staff… the public will complete your performance review in 2015.
For the record, I am very grateful that the Washington Post’s Jeremy Borden spends time covering Prince William County’s issues. We desperately need investigative reporting in our community. Good job, Jeremy! Addendum: Our Chairman, Supervisors and School Board members should always push back when staff pushes to “streamline” and “simplify” the process of spending our money.
Some things in life should be easy. Spending taxpayer dollars shouldn’t be one of those things.
I fear its become a bit too easy to spend taxpayer dollars in Prince William County, Virginia. Perhaps having the dubious distinction of the highest real estate tax rate in the Commonwealth says it all.
This is my opinion based upon the facts that I have found. Alternate opinions welcome. I’m always available to join anyone over a cup of coffee who wishes to learn more. My office is the Starbucks at the corner of the Prince William Parkway and Hoadly Road in Prince William County, Virginia.
For a decent conversation, I’ll buy.
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