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Editorial: Meals tax? Sure ... with a referendum first, that is

Fairfax officials skirting the will of the public would not be a good look

With straight faces, members of the Democratic near-oligarchy on the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors say that:

• They really haven’t decided yet whether they will impose a meals tax in the not-too-distant future, and

• If they do, they will make sure that the extra revenue brought in will be used to offset spending elsewhere.

Both are knee-slappers: Supervisors have been salivated over imposition of a meals tax for decades, and now that they have the power to do so absent a community referendum, it’s almost a guarantee one will be put in place ASAP so it will not be a campaign issue next time they have to run for re-election.

As for the idea that they’ll use that cash to trim other revenue streams, notably the ever spiraling tax burden on homeowners, well, they may come up with some conjuring tricks to make their case. We’ll believe it when we see it.

In what may be a surprise to county leaders who have read this far, we’re not actually against a meals tax. But – and it’s a seminal “but” – we don’t care that Democrats in the General Assembly a few years ago took away the requirement for a referendum (in which Fairfax voters twice have rejected a meals tax). This matter still should go to the electorate for its imprimatur.

Anyone think that’s going to happen? Nah. We predict with a certain degree of confidence that sometime next year, the supervisors on a party-line vote will approve the measure, with meals taxes implemented starting July 1, 2025 (or Jan. 1, 2026, take your pick).

Might we be wrong? It happens occasionally. But not that often. We’ve been at this a long time.