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BPOL repeal has cost Stafford millions in taxes
Is There An Additional Member of the Stafford Board? By George Schwartz

Date published: 7/13/2012

ARECENT announcement by Speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates Bill Howell stated that he and Stafford County Supervisor Susan Stimpson are Stafford County's leadership team.

Wait just a minute. The elected leadership of Stafford County is, and always has been, the Board of Supervisors.

Does Speaker Howell also believe he is a member of the leadership team for Fredericksburg?

In making this pronouncement via a four-page, full-color, mailed brochure, this new two-person leadership team put forth several of their accomplishments. For example: "Stafford repealed the BPOL tax on businesses, making Stafford more business-friendly."

That is a false hypothesis. The Business, Professional and Occupational License tax was approved by the Democratic Board of Supervisors in July 2008 and rescinded before it could take effect by the Republican board in January 2010.

BPOL was designed to protect small businesses, while raising millions to offset some of the tax burden of property owners. In the intervening four years there has been little new substantive retail business in Stafford County. Empty storefronts abound. In the meantime, the BPOL jurisdictions of Spotsylvania County and Fredericksburg (and other BPOL jurisdictions) have continued to attract business after business.

The board Republicans were forced to hire Washington-based The Riddle Company to find out what kinds of businesses Stafford needs and how to attract that business. Riddle reported that Stafford's "most apparent challenge is the lack of population density. Stafford is not competitive when you compare the total population in the top regional markets, and retailers like dense markets."

The price of pandering to business is costing Stafford residents millions of annual BPOL dollars of revenue (approximately $120 million over 20 years); money that should be available for schools, transportation, and fire-rescue.

There is minimal new business in Stafford with which residents can relate: There are few new Stafford business doors open to the public. To add insult to injury, the Stafford board, through the Economic Development Authority, is unnecessarily giving $75,000 to a new retail chain that is actually coming into the county. Giving tax money to a business?

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