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Should Treasurer & Comm. of Revenue be Combined?

An online article In yesterday's Arlington Sun Gazette, Scott McCaffrey reports on a proposal made in a Hampton Roads Daily Press editorial. According to McCaffrey:

"The Daily Press in Hampton Roads has concluded that the duties performed by sheriff, commissioner of revenue, treasurer and clerk of the Circuit Court could just as easily be accomplished using employees of the general government, rather than those of independent fiefdoms.

“All of these duties are necessary to efficient government,” the editorial opines. “But why are we electing these positions?”

“The only constitutional officer that still makes sense is the commonwealth’s attorney,” the paper suggests.

"Which leads to two questions: Is the editorial’s viewpoint correct, and even if so, is there any chance that the offices can be abolished?

"There is precedent: Virginia’s constitutions of 1902 and 1971 eliminated a number of statewide and local elected offices. And localities have the option of going without some of them; Fairfax County, for instance, uses county staff in place of an elected treasurer or commissioner of revenue, although it does elect a sheriff, commonwealth’s attorney and clerk of the Circuit Court. Arlington elects all five, sharing the clerk of court and commonwealth’s attorney with the city of Falls Church."

McCaffrey then notes, "Not surprisingly, some of Arlington’s incumbent constitutional officers say the public is best served by independent elected officials." He also quoted Delegates Bob Brink and Patrick Hope before quoting ACTA's president, Tim Wise:

"(Delegate Hope's) view was shared by Tim Wise, president of the Arlington County Taxpayers Association.

“The commissioner of revenue and the treasurer seem to operate in a smooth and effective manner, which makes it more difficult to make a coherent argument for their consolidation,” he said. “Their operations don’t seem sufficiently large enough to gain any real economies and efficiencies.”

(Wise did, however, voice concerns about Virginia’s current tax structure. “Staffing cuts could be made . . . if Virginia’s political class was less greedy,” he said. “Some taxes, such as the car tax, require a great deal of administration. Another would be the meals tax. With the reduced staffing, consolidation might then make sense.)

Although much longer than most Sun Gazette articles, McCaffrey presents a well-balanced view on whether the two 'Constitutional offices' should be consolidated.


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