A state of decline

Budget public meetings in Chesterfield County, are you kidding me? Citizens fill the chairs and line the walls in the public meeting room on what I call the biggest night of the year. Even if the County was going to build a house of ill repute on every corner and tax the proceeds, it may not draw as many people to the meeting.

Like cattle going up the chute, each has his or her say. The difference is that you can’t prod them with 300 volts of electricity if they don’t move fast enough. Or, like in an old burlesque show you can’t  give them the hook when they ramble on about the same thing as the guy before them.

If you attended the meeting last week, your face is probably red by now; at least as red as the signs some teachers waved around.

Some speakers made very good points. How about the fellow that suggested the houses of ill repute on every corner? Some people liked it but his wife drugged him out of the room by his ear, slide show and all.

You know, I think I’m on to something – a vice tax. But first we have to bring in the vice. At each major intersection, each corner would be zoned for a different sort of vice.

Corner one would be the house of ill repute, designated as (HR). Corner two would be a liquor store the size of Walmart, zoned (LS). The third corner would be a marijuana shop, with every flavor, type and delivery system you can imagine, the highest tax should be placed on the brownies. This one would be, (ah dude I can’t remember).  Corner four would be a casino,

I think the house of ill repute would get less business than any of the rest because all your friends would either start at the liquor store, stumble across the intersection to the pot shop and then to the casino. By the time he got to visit the last corner he’d be broke, so he would have to take one of the taxis waiting in line to take him home. “Hey buddy, cash or plastic?

The county needs revenue and needs it bad. Got any ideas? I know we can’t tax churches. We can’t put up tolls on Routes 10 and 1 or Hopkins.

We can’t tax the grass, sun or moon, although we do tax the guys who cut the grass, sell suntan lotion and marry couples who have been caught up in the moonlight.

I believe that we have to allow the county a little more revenue. I, like a few people who spoke last week, believe that the county’s budget has been cut to the bone and now we’re scraping the bone.  Chesterfield is in a race to the bottom and is proving it every day.

Chesterfield spends $1,598 per capital, the lowest in Virginia counties and cities with more than 100,000 people, and the lower revenue burden. My plan could help that.

Operating expenses cut this year by (9.1 percent), including: telephone services ($641k), travel ($715k), operating supplies ($1.6M), tools and equipment ($782k), furniture/fixtures ($1.1M), copier contract ($579k), maintenance/other contracts ($2.2M), printing services ($502k). I would say that the counties contribution to unemployment compensation went up.  

In Chesterfield we seem to brag about how little we spend per capita or per person. We boast about how little it costs the county to educate a child. Do we beat our chests over begging for land to use for park or subcontracting county services to save a buck? How about class sizes? We’re proud of how many students our teachers must teach.

Libraries closed a day a week, a fire house being built but not funded when finished, real estate tax reductions for our elderly reduced. Social programs on the chopping block even though they are less than one percent of county revenue, drug court, no raise for teachers, and so on.

I find it hard to believe that we are so proud about how cheap we are. Don’t we understand that somehow we pay? Many voted no to the meals tax and yet we have a higher property tax that essentially pays for the same thing, only now we all pay. We tricked them all right.

I was at a meeting the other night at which we were talking about projects that the group was about to kick off.  Some towns, cities and counties would pay for the projects this group does, but the group works to improve the quality of life in their section of Chesterfield because there are no funds at the county to pay for them.

According to a budget presentation to Board of Supervisors, “Fiscal stewardship and a focus on quality of life, not new concepts [are important] in Chesterfield County.”

There’s that “quality of life” phrase again. The FY15 plan cast in that mold, said the presentation.

[The] Proposed budget strengthens core services, improves “quality of life,” upholds County’s triple A reputation and, positions County well for the next generation.

Isn’t quality of life parks, trails, sidewalks, performance venues, transportation opportunities, safe streets, school buses, smaller classrooms and a leg up for those who have no quality of life?

Is the only way we can pay for quality of life is a vice tax? Let’s start identifying the intersections.


Taxes and budgets

Cuts to the bone, really? Why did we need a $13 million gym added to Midlothian HS when the one there worked just fine? What about another $14 million in the FY15 CCPS budget for a new gym at Monacan, though the one there works just fine? Oh yes, the Midlo gym was over budget, Cosby was over budget by $20 million with a total cost of around $60 million I think, and Clover Hill cast upwards of $80 to $90 million.

How much of those funds could have been used for teachers, or the new CCPS outcry for a lower PTR by 1? Lots and lots.

There is PLENTY of fat in the CCPS budget. Email me back and or call me and I will share them with you.

PS. Lets talk about the real PTR that CCPS provides to the DoE of VA. Then we can debate the real PTR issues.

Rodney Martin

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