In case you missed the February meeting of the Fauquier Board of Supervisors (BoS), which happened on Valentine’s Day, here’s a quick summary of a couple of the important votes that took place:
Once again the anti-free market winery ordinance was focused upon. The ordinance passed in July 2012 with Republicans Chris Granger (Center District), Chester Stribling (Lee District), and Chairman Holder Trumbo (Scott District) all voting in favor along with Independent Peter Schwartz (Marshall District). Republican Lee Sherbeyn (Cedar Run District) voted in opposition.
But at last week’s BoS meeting, instead of voting to fully repeal the ordinance, which is already the subject of about a dozen lawsuits, the Supervisors were only considering a special exception permit for one winery, Barrel Oak.
Supporters of Barrel Oak caused the building to shake with their stomping from the room above the main meeting space and clapping all throughout the halls and into the other rooms. There was a lot of Valentine’s Day love for Barrel Oak, but there wasn’t much love for free market economic principles.
The large crowd seemed thrilled when the exception passed (4-1), but what was really accomplished? One winery business, one family, in all of Fauquier was given a sliver of their liberty back and ability to make a decent living for themselves. Obstacles to freedom and prosperity are still in place for every winery in Fauquier, as well as roadblocks for potential new businesses that may want to move into the county.
And when the vote was called, even the Independent on the board, Mr. Schwartz, voted to give that small piece of freedom back to Barrel Oak, while Chairman Holder Trumbo was the sole dissenting vote.
Another item on the agenda was for a tax hike in Marshall to pay for street improvements in the downtown area. Republicans Granger and Stribling joined Schwartz in voting for the tax hike, while Sherbeyn voted against the measure, and Chairman Trumbo abstained.
Marshall property owners downtown will have 2 cents added to their county real estate tax levy to repay a $643,000 loan from the county government. The tax will cost citizens about an extra $50 annually on $250,000 worth of real estate, and will be in place for 12 to 14 years. This may not seem like much money for most people, but the effects of further local tax hikes on top of more tax increases at other levels of government are sure to take their toll.
“Nobody’s bringing up the main issue: Can these homeowners afford this?” Mary Jane Stringfellow said at the BoS hearing according to Fauquier Now.
The news service reports:
Ms. Stringfellow said her family of three, which has health issues and no health insurance, must live on income of $44,000 a year. Each monthly mortgage payment takes $1,200.
“Fifty dollars is a lot to me,” she said. “I can’t go hungry . . . I’m on the very edge of giving my home up. I cannot afford” the tax hike.
Why make a specific point about how the Republican votes came down? Because the Republican Party markets itself as the party of lower taxes and free market economics. Votes against economic prosperity are bad for any elected official no matter what their political party, but for these Republicans, there’s also an issue of principle at play.
When we look at what the Republican Party stands for across the country, and what the GOP grassroots stand for, our Republican Supervisors in Fauquier have obviously lost touch with the principles espoused by their political party, and their constituents.