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Estrada: Tax cut is common sense

I’m disappointed in Loudoun Board Chair Phyllis Randall (D-At large). On Thursday, March 9, the Times-Mirror reported on Supervisor Ron Meyer’s (R-Broad Run)  call to reduce taxes, while still funding our county’s entire budget, including Loudoun schools.

Instead of agreeing with Meyer’s common sense call to reduce the taxes paid by Loudoun retirees, families, and other homeowners and small businesses, Chair Randall threw cold water on fiscal responsibility. As reported by the Times-Mirror, she “didn’t seem on board with Meyer’s proposal,” and was quoted as saying, “I think that everyone on the board is going to vote their conscience.”

What happened to then-candidate Randall who ran just two years ago claiming to be a fiscally responsible moderate? Now, as Board Chair Randall, why is she dashing the hopes of Loudoun businesses and residents who could hope to see more money in their actual pockets this year if the board approves an actual tax cut, and not just a cut to the tax rate that leaves the tax burden the same?

Why is Chair Randall opposing a plan right out of the gate that funds our county’s critical infrastructure, provides our schools and teachers with an 8 percent raise, and as an added bonus actually cuts taxes? Even if she and other Loudoun supervisors are not yet ready to take as strong a stand for fiscal responsibility in government as Sup.Meyer, couldn’t Chair Randall have countered with a different proposal that would still have cut taxes? At the very least, couldn’t she have indicated to the Times-Mirror that she was intrigued and would look into it?

Here is what all members of government should remember when it comes to matters of voting and conscience: not one taxpayer penny belongs to the government. It’s not Loudoun County’s money. It is not the government’s money. It is our money. Every penny belongs to We, the People, the taxpayers of Loudoun County. Elected officials like Chair Randall are stewards of our money that we entrust to them as taxpayers. The moment a politician starts talking about consciences and voting on budgets without recognizing this fundamental fact, watch out.

As a homeowner with one kid about to reach school age and another on the way, my wife and I are very excited about Sup. Meyer’s tax cut and budget proposal. It will leave more money in our pockets as we raise our family, as we support Loudoun charities, and as we frequent Loudoun’s local businesses.

But whether or not the supervisors decides to go with Supervisor Meyer’s budget, I dearly hope that all of their consciences will lead them to support an actual tax cut below the equalized rate of $1.135. That is the very least that they can do as stewards of our hard earned money.

Will Estrada, Chairman of the Loudoun County Republican Committee

Lovettesville

Flannery: Density threatens water quality

Lovettsville’s David Ward and Chris VanVlack combined their talents to report on the County’s Water Resources based on samples from 2015. The report sums up the county’s precipitation, streamflow, groundwater flows, and surface and groundwater.

While the population of the county is over 364,000, it is expected that by about 2030, there will be 467,000 persons. When it comes to water quality, population density is not irrelevant.

The county has about 1,500 miles of perennial streams and it’s by knowing how much water flows and how much the flow varies over both short and long periods that one may assess floodplains, flood control, water structures, and environmental conditions. Stream gauges measure these stream characteristics and the results are forwarded by telemetry to the USGS – and can be found on the USGS web site for Loudoun County.

One such measurement is daily flow rate in Goose Creek near Leesburg that shows the rise and fall of the flow that is most affected, in the case of Goose Creek, by the rainfall at Dulles airport.

There are more than 14,500 active water supply wells in Loudoun. In fact, groundwater is the primary source of drinking water for the majority of residents in western Loudoun. There are wells that the County monitors for well depth (from 165 feet to 700 feet), rock type involved (fluvial, igneous intrusive, plutonic, etc.), and pairing the high and low points of the groundwater in each well.

The quality of the county’s water is measured using various metrics including chemical, microbiological and benthic macroinvertebrates.

Nutrient enrichment is a major cause of stream impairments and can cause low dissolved oxygen, fish kills, shifts in flora and fauna and nuisance algae. More than half of the samples collected contained high nitrogen and phosphorous concentrations.

In sampling for e coli pathogens 80 percent were above the limit for the recreation use of water. There are programs in place to reduce bacterial contamination including initiatives to repair or upgrade on site wastewater treatment systems.

Small organisms (mostly insect larvae) indicate by their tolerance of the water the quality of the water. This sampling indicated those streams that were excellent and those under extreme stress.

There are also large areas of the county that have elevated levels of iron and manganese, considered “aesthetic contaminants” as they do not adversely affect human health at the concentrations found in the county.

The one significant groundwater contamination in the entire county is the Hidden Lane Landfill in Northeast Loudoun and is on the EPA’s National Priorities List.

The most prevalent sources of potential groundwater pollution are the on-site wastewater treatment systems serving homes and small business in the rural areas of the county. There are about 15,000 such systems in the county. If properly installed, these systems are fine. But they are not all installed well or maintained properly. The report encourages testing to assure that these systems are functioning properly.

We have all been put on notice by what happened in Flint, Michigan that lead dissolves and contaminates water. Studies have shown there are a range of wells in the aggressive range of corrosivity that merit testing. The report identified Langelier Index values that indicate the degree of corrosivity. The overlay of lead presence on a geological mapping showed no correlation.

The recommended remedy is to have water samples taken to test private wells and not just for lead corrosivity.

In short, the report is both interesting and important. It confirms the need for vigilance among homeowners and businesses in an ever increasingly denser county in order to assure the quality of our water.

The report can be accessed at https://www.loudoun.gov/DocumentCenter/View/126214.

John Flannery

District Director at the Loudoun Soil & Water Conservation District

DiMatteo: Comstock backs “Make America Sick Again”

Rep. Barbrara Comstock sent out an 11-point message exulting the benefits of the Republican health care bill known as American Health Care Act or Trump Care. More aptly, it should be referred to as the “Make America Sick Again” Bill. The numbers issued by the (Congressional Budget Office) bear this out as more than 34 million Americans are projected to be uninsured by 2026. Even more disturbing, is that House Speaker Paul Ryan and Representative Comstock are “excited” about the CBO report.

Republicans have always viewed the very existence of Medicare and Medicaid as signs of weakness, and resolutely pursue spending and tax policies that exacerbate the gap between rich and poor. Of the 24 million losing health coverage noted above, about 14 million of them would lose Medicaid coverage. Premiums in the individual market would be 15 to 20% higher than the Affordable Care Act (ACA) during 2018 and 2019. After that, the CBO projects, premium growth would slow, but largely because the Republican plan would drive younger people into the plan and older people out.

Indeed, the overall effect of the Republican plan is to make health insurance coverage less accessible for older and poorer Americans while making it more affordable for younger and higher-income Americans. Essentially, the Republican bill will almost double the number of Americans who would have been uninsured in 2026 if the ACA stayed in place.

So why is Representative Comstock “excited” about the Republican plan? The CBO projects that the Republican plan would reduce the deficit by $336.5 billion over the next ten years. This change is mostly due to $880 billion in reductions in federal Medicaid spending and to reductions in the ACA’s subsidies for insurance coverage for lower-income Americans, which are cut by $673 billion. And the fact that millions of Americans will be without health insurance.
But the best news for Representative Comstock and the highest earning Americans is giving them $361 billion in new tax credits.

Rep. Comstock claims that the Republican plan will drive down costs by making healthcare more competitive and affordable. Maybe, but at what cost? Driving the people that need it the most off insurance roles? The Republican “Making America Sick Again” bill not only reduces or eliminates coverage for the most vulnerable - poorest, sickest, oldest – it is just plain unn-American. While Rep. Comstock refuses to hold town halls, it is imperative for her to listen to the thousands of phone calls, letters, and e-mails from her constituents and take a position with her colleagues to develop a Health Insurance Plan that works for all Americans.

Al DiMatteo

Ashburn

Pecora: Civil discourse and progress

Hare: Where’s justice for the victims?

Latif: Islam honors all women

Fredman: Is there a water crisis In Loudoun?

Gurdwara: Sikhs express solidarity with Jewish commnity

Blackburn: Strive to help induviduals, not numbers

Tan: A taxpayer’s take on the county budget

Everett: Response to Dr. Anne Brown

Gritton: Open Letter to Representative Comstock

Janoff: Like many others, my family feels the impact of rising health care costs

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