The fact is most everybody is worth a lot less today than two years ago and the loss is not imaginary or inconsequential, regardless of whether government tells you that four percent is an accurate adjustment to your balance sheet facts. The government needs to tighten up, too, and to be realistic, probably more than it is willing to think about without even more citizen pressure.
17 Replies to “Crozet Gazette says – Don’t Raise the Tax Rate”
Funny, there were several real estate agents and other local independent business owners last Wedsnesday at the county hearing who strongly pleaded for the opposite, with the goal to maintain the county’s reputation of school excellence and a prime locality to live (the budget cuts will severely diminish that reputation for sure). Most people thought that a few hundred dollars (on average) more in tax (i.e. the same as they pay now) is more than worth that. The county has already tightened the budget in recent years AND will need to do that STILL even when tax rate is increased. Not raising the rate therefore will surely do more damage than good.
The county school system poses a false dilemma: either raise taxes or have bad schools. Could they not buy new textbooks every ten years instead of every six? Could they not suspend expensive training programs like CAI? Would the quality of our students’ educations really suffer were there not a public relations office downtown? Has SchoolNet actually improved student performance, according to data? But no, instead their gambit is to threaten to cut teachers’ jobs or force them to teach more classes per year so that they’ll clamor for higher taxes. To the schools, “tightening the budget” seems to mean settling for a smaller percent increase than they had last year. I wish that’s what it mean to the rest of us.
My family can’t afford to give our money away, but we can afford a dollar a day to maintain our public schools. Regardless of your opinion of the school budget, there appears no viable way the county can guarantee the contuation of the vital services, which include police, without eliminating the tax cut they are proposing in the present budget. If the amounts involved were a few million, then some of the cuts Geneva mentioned could make a difference. But with fifteen million dollars in the whole, there’s no way to make that up without terminating classroom teachers. And the School Board did terminate eleven central office positions last year, and five more under the budget they submitted.
Wouldn’t saving “a few million” be a good thing? Instead, we don’t ask them to save anything except by attrition. I predict that even if the schools get the tax raise they have extorted, they will still enact the 4X4 schedule to get more work from already overburdened teachers. The cost per pupil has risen almost geometrically, while the number of students has not changed significantly in a decade.
The School Board indicated that they had been discussing a switch to the 4X4 schedule for the following academic year, but was expedited due to the lack of financial support from the state. So that change was coming anyway. I agree with you that saving a few million is a good thing, and personnaly I can think of several items that could be cut or eliminated. But the reality is that none of the items you and I come up with would close the budget gap and that’s just with the schools. As a resident of Crozet, I don’t want the police service out here to be reduced, or the library closed. I desparately want Jarmans Gap Road to have a sidewalk. Giving everyone in the community a tax cut this year, when the state legislators have slashed everything seems to be an imprudent choice. This type of budgetary philosphy cannot be sustained.
The Gazette’s stand is right on target for my household! There are a lot of households just like mine that are stretched to the limit. Spend my tax dollars for needs but not for wants. When you have plenty, as when the tax coffers piled it in during the housing (and taxing!) bubble, carefully splurge on your “wants” if you must. But when it’s time to tighten up, then TIGHTEN UP. Too much has been piled on to the schools’ menu list for too many years. Trim the “stuff” and EDUCATE the children. There are plenty of businesses and parents who can take care of their entertainments. That is NOT the use for my tax dollars.
The kind of budgetary philosophy that I don’t think can be sustained is that even in a slump, you get an increase. The tax cut you refer to, I suppose, is that the assessments went down, meaning that wealth decreased, and therefore the county can collect less money. I’d like to see a good faith effort on the part of administrators to close the budget gap by absorbing the losses at the furthest remove from students. In other words, the more directly one’s job affects students, the less likely it is to be downsized. I agree with all the things Amy wants for Crozet, and wonder if fewer planners and consultants and planning sessions couldn’t have made the new library more affordable.
People seem to want decent schools, a library etc.,firefighters and police, but don’t want to pay for them. Where do you think the money is going to come from? Manna from heaven? Leprechaun gold? Mom and Dad will pay for it?
As mentioned, the double whammy from reduced revenues from county taxes and a MAJOR slashing of state funding (Cheers to Bob McDonnell who funnels lots from counties with limited resources to rich and affluent counties! And he redirected federal stimulus money earmarked for edcation to the general fund, i.e, for other purposes. It is clear how Virginia values education nowadays-not). So even with restoring the local revenue, cuts still need to be made but can be limited in terms of damage to the quality of education and services. There is a reason why property values in Albemarle are a lot higher than surrounding counties. But maybe some here wish to do away with that distinction….
Tax Cut?? There is no tax cut. Property values have leveled off and decreased in many cases. When Property values increase that is not an
increase in the tax rates. Problem is the County never looked into the possibility of decreasing property values. The simple fact is that even with a tax rate increase it is silly to assume that the Crozet area will see
a large infusion of County cash. The needs of other areas are far greater.
The budget needs to be reset to a sustainable level. More money does not
always mean better services. Crozet has always gotten it’s fair share. Try riding around the rest of the County and see what you think. To expect urban services in a rural county … NO tax rate increase.
Edward Strauss is probably right to say that higher taxes won’t mean more money for Crozet projects. When I worked for the county, school employees were encouraged to lobby for the meals tax if they wanted to see a salary increase. We got the meals tax, but compensation continued to lag behind that in comparable districts.
Hats off to the Gazette for their position on not raising the tax rate to balance the budget (who’s to say the 74.2 cent rate is not already too high if real spending cuts were enacted in the past?). Advocates for raising the rate predictably roll out the “heartstring” issues like cutting teachers, increasing class size and closing libraries. They have made the possibility of paying less taxes, due to new assessments, as something we should feel as if we’re not doing our part. We should all want elected officials to prove the case that proposed tax rates are a product of exhaustive challenges of every budget line. I for one, am not satisfied this has taken place. Informed citizens need to do more of what resident Ceann Wombacher did at the recent school budget meeting. She had done her homework to ask why our county needs 38 executives in the admin office making over $80,000 per year plus a very nice benefit package. Ceann also challenged the amount spent for catering and travel expense. These challenges have nothing to do with class size or teacher reductions but rather an informed citizen starting with the admin offices when challenging school budgets. Ceann wants our schools to be the very best as do we all but not without challenges to potentially wasteful spending. The comeback might be that some of these challenges lead to very little savings in the big scheme of things. We should never be deterred here in that taken together they add up to potentially big savings.
Private sector businesses typically do zero based, line by line, budgets from the bottom up. Tough times in particular, wants are separated from needs and every line is challenged. If we always measure ourselves vs what we spent last year, we’ll never do our real job of proper budgeting. There is no reason why (I feel in good times and bad) that tax payer driven, public sector, businesses should be any different. The people in these public positions work for the taxpayer, not the other way around. I do not mean this in an arrogant way, merely to point out our responsibility to challenge and with fact, not emotion.
New Supervisor, Snow has said there is no reason why both vulnerable libraries can’t stay open if we are willing to make relatively small adjustments. Why can’t a slight reduction in staff hours be supplemented (if needed) with plentiful, volunteer help? Let’s challenge our officials to get creative. Raising taxes, for some is the easy way to solve problems. Those of you who agree, let’s dig in on this and it will not mean we love this county and all it has to offer any less.
Be informed,challenge and do so with fact not emotion.
Snow is talking about things he has no decision mandate over. The JMRL board (that spans several counties and the city) is in charge of such decisions. So Snow can play hardball, but he is a newby with little experience, really, and acts quite the dominatrix alpha-male type “I know better”, remember that dumb slogan “Snow Knows”? The arrogance.
Paul, I think your position is as equally naive as those who believe the schools should receive any and all funds they like. The truth of the matter, as I see it, is that you will not accomplish your stated goals, regardless of what happens to the tax rate. Fine, some parent says that the school executives are overpaid. Maybe they are, maybe the aren’t. But not funding the school budget will not achieve the goal of decreasing their salaries. Same thing with the BOS. I do disagree with your philosphy about running a local government under a business management. Businesses don’t exist to serve the public good the way a local government does. A business can decide to stop providing a good or service if its not cost-effective and make their profit some otherway. A government can’t, and shouldn’t. Strapping a for-profit matrix on an entity that was not designed for that purpose will not serve anyone well. Both sides have their philosphy wrapped up in the tax rate, and both are wrong. You want effective government, try getting involved at some point in the decision-making process before tax rate time.
Frustrated, I don’t see how high administrative salaries serve the public good. The library system decided to cut services, not costs. A few years ago everyone at UVa took a salary cut to avoid layoffs. County school administrators, on the other hand, decide to make teachers work harder and students spend less time in class, but make no sacrifices themselves. With the money that the County will now get back from the state in the revenue sharing deal with the city, it looks like they’re only a million or so down from their budget of last year. Yet any attempt to cost cut is dismissed as too little to matter.
County govt. is hunkering down trying to save itself and people are actually buying into it. We do not need a large team of consultants to run
the county. We do not need layers of administrative and review personnel
for the county to exist. Do you prefer to have a Library or a review board
that mandates brick Walmart’s and Food Lion’s? Yes, it is that simple. Read the budget. The only reason they bother to publish it is they know you won’t…
Did the City and the County reach a deal about the 18 million dollars? I thought the only deal was a proposed amendment to get credit from the State to get another 2.5 million from the composite index and I hadn’t heard that had passed. Has it? That would be great.