By Cameron Jones
This year’s budget process is nearing finale, and compared to last year, this year’s budget process has been a cake walk for the Supervisors and County Administrator.
At the final public hearing last night at the Warren Green building, Chairman Holder Trumbo opened the meeting and called for speakers, and it was not immediately apparent why the 12 people who showed up were there.
The staff, Supervisors, and deputies outnumbered the concerned citizens, and only three people spoke. The meeting was over in 20 minutes.
Have we come to the point where the citizens of Fauquier County are so uninterested in how their tax dollars are spent, that they only turn out if their own personal ox is getting gored? It would seem so.
At the initial public hearing a couple of weeks ago, there were at least some outspoken opponents to the Board’s decision to push the Opal water project out to the 2019 time frame, but once that decision was reversed, there seems to be little interest in anything else the county is doing, even the upcoming tax increase.
There was one point of interest however; a common theme that has been brought up several times in this round of budget talks, and that is a growing discussion about the impact of conservation easements and Purchase of Development Rights (PDR) on the budget.
Supervisors Sherbeyn and Granger brought this into the discussion early on, and last night Madge Eicher from Lee District and two Liberty High teachers from Cedar Run District, Mr. and Mrs. Obrokta spoke about elimination of these tax deferments in context of increased revenue for the county, and improved funding for education, particularly teacher salaries.
I agree that we should not be funding tax breaks for wealthy landowners through PDR and easements at the expense of other things that need to be funded for the benefit of all. There is an upcoming series of articles in FFC that will explain why PDR and easements should be eliminated.
It is time for our Supervisors to discontinue this practice, and it is also time for the citizens of Fauquier County to show some real interest in the way the county is being run.
The Board is scheduled to meet again on 11 April at 6:30 pm at the Warren Green building, and is expected to vote to accept the budget as agreed upon without further debate. Details of the budget can be found on the county website.