- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 29, 2002

Opponents of the sales tax referendum went door-to-door yesterday in Prince William County to persuade residents to vote against the proposed half-percent sales tax increase in November.
"I'm of the mind-set that prosperity brings about traffic, and that is just one of the side effects. Raising our taxes is not the answer," volunteer John Schneider told Liz Mitchell, a homemaker who lives near the Prince William County Parkway.
Mrs. Mitchell said she wants to learn more about how the extra revenue would be spent, adding that she is undecided but is inclined to oppose the tax increase, which would raise the sales tax from 4.5. percent to 5 percent in Northern Virginia to address the area's transportation problems.
"If I knew for sure that the money would go for roads, then I could support it. We used to live in California, where the sales tax is 8, so 5 percent is not bad," she said. "But I am pretty skeptical that this proposal would work."
Others have already made up their minds.
"I've got five kids in my house and that's all we do is buy stuff for them, and now [the government] wants to try to raise my sales tax? No way," said Mark Hoffman, who, despite having a "No Soliciting" sign on his front door, thanked Mr. Schneider for stopping by. "I am absolutely opposed to this."
Greg Walker, who works for a foreign technology company in Manassas, told volunteer Les Gabriel that he supports the referendum because he sees no other alternative for correcting the area's transportation problems.
"I am absolutely for the sales tax increase," Mr. Walker said. "Whether it will work or not, I don't know. I know I see my neighbors leaving for work at 5:30 in the morning because they want to avoid the traffic and something has to be done."
Voters in nine Northern Virginia jurisdictions will decide Nov. 5 whether to raise the sales tax to fund transportation projects. If passed, it is expected to raise $5 billion in revenue over 20 years.
Prince William County residents are considered pivotal to the referendum's chances. Last year, voters there supported Republican gubernatorial nominee Mark Earley, who opposed the referendum. But much of the suburban sprawl that has clogged streets neighboring Fairfax and Arlington counties is beginning to creep into Prince William County.
Polls indicate that the measure is supported in Fairfax and Arlington counties.
Anti-referendum volunteers, all members of the Prince William County Taxpayers Alliance, met before hitting the streets to coordinate their messages.
"There ought to be a lot of potential here for us," Denny Daugherty told the dozen volunteers at the Prince William County Complex. "All votes count the same. Our votes here are just as important as the votes in Fairfax. We just have to make sure we get the people out."


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