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Arlington County Board Takes From Peter, Gives to Paul (Sin Tax to Syntax)

Earlier this month (both July 7 and July 11), we growled about about the County Board approving an increase in the cigarette tax, chiding the Board about its 300% increase in the cigarette tax for smokers so they could lower the real estate tax for residential and commercial property owners. We weren't against lowering the real estate tax rate, but we think it should come at the expense of the ever-increasing size of county government. According to this week's Arlington Sun-Gazette, the county will be keeping all the revenue generated by the 300% increase in the cigarette tax. However, it's taken the grand poohbahs at the Courthouse two weeks to figure out that none of the county's windfall will be going to the schools even though the County Board and the School Board had a revenue-sharing agreement in place whereby the Schools got almost 49% of all local taxes. Now here comes the 'syntax' part. When asked his opinion of the Schools being left out of sharing any of the cigarette tax, Superintendent Robert Smith said, "Any revenue that comes in will be used to cut the real estate tax rate, so county revenues won't go down by the tax-rate cut, Smith said. "Therefore, the county will see the same revenues while cutting the tax rate -- the school system will get the same cut we would have gotten if there were no cigarette tax or rate cut." Sounds perfectly clear to us!


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