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Candland: 'No Confidence' in County Executive's Budget Analysis

Supervisor Peter Candland said that he found numerous errors in the county executive's report on his budget proposal, sparking a heated discussion among Board members.

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. 

Kevin M. Raymond December 13, 2012 at 08:39 PM
"While I do not have the facts...." summarizes the substance of Tom Fitzpatrick's comments!!! Certainly there are many areas that could be improved in County government.....................but trashing well-established programs that are used by thousands of citizens is not one of them. The PWC government has been designed to serve many needs. It is unfortunate that Candland and his allies seek to trash programs that are of no immediate use to themselves.....
Dave Jennings December 13, 2012 at 09:32 PM
Mr Candland must be, like our illustrious chairman of the board, Corey Stewart, finger pointing, posturing and disparaging professional government workers who just don't adhere to his from whatever planet he is from viewpoint because he is on some long term hunt for higher office that can be achieved by smearing folks who don't conform to his view of government, a la "talegunner" Joe McCarthy. Candland, and politicians in his mode, equate success with how many people's reputations they can ruin in their run for whatever office they are seeking. It would be so refreshing if we could actually elect government officials who are actually interested in governance and not posturing, finger pointing and political smearing other people who they view in their way.
Kevin M. Raymond December 14, 2012 at 03:08 AM
Great comment Dave........i believe we have some elected officials on the BOCS who, as you say, "are actually interested in governance and not posturing....." In my opinion, they know that governance takes intellectual power and not simply the belief that good governance means cutting budgets!!!!!
John Bonich December 14, 2012 at 03:19 AM
The county CXO has been injecting her philosophical bias into the budget process for quite a while now and Candland was well justified in bringing it to the attention of the board. She is not an elected official. She is out of line, and its about time someone on the board had the guts to address this. Perhaps its time for the taxpayers who are forced to pay this good ol' boy network of non-profits every year to start hoarding the citizens' time like they do.
Kevin M. Raymond February 14, 2013 at 01:52 PM
Well-established programs are not the products of "good ol' boys." They are the products of defined needs that have been built and funded to address the needs of the people - many of whom work hard at low wages - to support families. Govt programs are here to help others and are an integral outgrowth of the Preamble of the Declaration of Independence: "all men are created equal, they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights that amongthese are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness - that to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

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