EDITORIAL Commentary By. William J. Des Rochers, Fluvanna Field Officer
Once again Fluvanna County’s supervisors opted for a small band-aid fix for serious budgetary problems, and instead of confronting long-term structural problems, punted.
Fluvanna’s debt service and infrastructure difficulties are so acute and so persistent that only imagination and creative initiatives could fix them. Some supervisors were on the right track, but in the end the Board opted to increase real estate taxes by just $.03, and personal property taxes by $.30 – both per $100 of assessed value.
Other small band-aids include:
· Assuming that overdue tax collection would amount to $700,000 (equivalent to a $.02 increase in real estate tax assessment); and,
· Anticipating about $350,000 in increased revenue from real estate growth, a one penny increase – but note: residential building permits have declined in Fluvanna every year since 2001 – and last year the value of new home construction, excluding land, amounted to less than $20 million.
That, coupled with raiding the “savings account” to cover some other obligations, will make everything all right this coming year, or so we are to believe.
One supervisor commented that the people just didn’t want their taxes raised. Well, an astute observation, but then rarely do they. One citizen, with a remarkable gift for the banal, stated at a recent Board meeting that any [emphasis added] tax increase would turn the county into a “leper colony”.
Supervisors are elected to lead, not just represent – ask Edmund Burke. And one look at Fluvanna’s difficulties demonstrates the need for leadership.
Consider that the sheriff’s office cannot always communicate with its deputies in the field because of the county’s woeful telecommunications infrastructure. Consider also that the county’s sick and dying always cannot be assured that a rescue squad can respond. The county has no water service except to Lake Monticello and Fork Union – and the Fork Union infrastructure is in dire straights.
Supervisors adopted a do nothing policy towards infrastructure and instead just made sure there was just enough money this year to pay for its debt.
One astute observer – and a conservative — has argued privately that budget cuts and tax savings should not go back to the citizens, but rather to infrastructure development: “it’s literally eating the seed corn if [supervisors] do [give the money back]”, he said.
But that is what a vocal minority seems to want.
And unfortunately, a majority of supervisors seem to be willing to do just that, in the form of lost opportunity, and lost infrastructure.
William Des Rochers is the Fluvanna County Field Officer for the Free Enterprise Forum a privately funded public policy organization. If you find this report helpful, please consider supporting the Free Enterprise Forum. To learn more visit www.freeenterpriseforum.org