Letters to the Editor: Week of March 20, 2014
Decreasing revenue further hurts county
The March 12 Hanover Board of Supervisors meeting revealed alarming discussion about county revenues that might be higher than expected, which prompted Supervisor Wayne Hazzard (South Anna) to suggest a property tax cut for this year of 2 cents, from $0.81 to $0.79 per $100 assessed value. W. Canova Peterson (Mechanicsville) chimed in that he liked this idea. We believe that committing to such a tax cut using a one-time positive funds balance would be fiscally irresponsible.
First of all, this marks only the first year of increasing revenues. Second, the county has committed to other projects. The Board is talking about taking out an $18 million bond to fund the new courthouse. Over $3 million are owed for storm water projects. In addition, every department of county services in need of personnel, capital improvements, or both, as a result of five years of brutal cuts to county budgets.
We are further mystified as to why Hazzard references spending in Washington D.C. for use as an example here. The board of supervisors has no power to “control spending” in Washington, D.C. Virginia has a balanced budget amendment in its constitution, and our fiscal house is in order here in Hanover. Problems need to be addressed in Washington, D.C., but Hanover is still short on teachers, deputies, firefighters and salaries for our prosecutors. So when Peterson asks if “we are meeting the citizens’ needs,” the answer is no, and decreasing the revenue stream will not help the county to better meet those needs.
Fortunately for county residents, Chairman Sean Davis and Chickahominy Representative Angela Kelly-Wiecek immediately responded in opposition to this extreme idea. Davis wisely cited fiscal conservatism and our AAA bond rating as reasons for not using one-time funds, while Kelly-Wiecek commented on the stress to county services caused by the recession and the fiscally conservative principle of the rainy day reserve.
March 26, the county budget hearing will be held and citizens need to be present to echo the sentiments of thousands of Hanover residents who want to see repair to the damage done by the recession. We all want great schools and a solid public safety network.
Friends of Hanover Schools
Randy Sherrod, Cathy Easter, Rachel Levy and Chris Pace
Continued success isn’t accidental
As the Sheriff of Hanover County, I have the privilege of serving one of the finest communities in which to live, work, and relax. As a long-time Hanover resident, I have not only a professional responsibility for the safety of our community, but also a vested, personal interest.
Hanover is where I was raised and where I have chosen to raise a family of my own. This is a responsibility that I take seriously as I know it has a direct impact on the quality of life in our community.
Without question, the past several years have been extremely challenging due to significant manpower and budget shortfalls. Naturally, these challenges have taken its toll, as seen in slight increases in crime and response times, as well as aging equipment and technology.
However, in spite of these setbacks, I’m pleased to say that we have remained committed to our mission and persevered. As a result, we continue to enjoy tremendous success as seen in our low crime rate and our high clearance rate, which is far above the national average.
Our continued success is not accidental, it is deliberate. It is a result of the hard work of the men and women of our agency, as well as a solid foundation that has been built in our community over many years. As I’ve said on many occasions, we pride ourselves on building and maintaining partnerships with all segments of our community—citizens, business leaders, the faith community, civic groups, and our board of supervisors. With these strong community partnerships and our proactive mindset, I know that we will continue to be effective in keeping our community safe.
In closing, I am optimistic about our way forward. To be certain, we still face challenges as the county continues to experience residential and business growth while slowly emerging from a recession. However, I choose to see these as opportunities for our community to excel at what we do best—maintaining a strong sense of community and remaining committed to ensuring that Hanover remains safe.
Col. David R. Hines,
Sheriff of Hanover County
How do state reps handle Sunday?
Other constituents of State Sen. Ryan McDougle, Del. Christopher Peace and Del. Buddy Fowler besides me are asking this question: How do the three of you handle Sundays?
You are on record that you will vote to make, in my opinion, the heartless, merciless and selfish choice to deny the chance for up to 400,000 working poor Virginians to have medical insurance, therefore a chance to have good health. Approximately 22,770 of these persons reside in your three districts. You are on record that you will vote to deny hospitals across Virginia enough money to help the indigent. At the same time each of you lives a privileged life and will never have to worry about having good medical coverage.
How do you handle your conscience, particularly on Sundays when you are listening to readings from the Holy Gospels, which relate how Jesus Christ healed the leper, the demoniac, the paralytic, the blind, the mute, the lame and the maimed? Do you think that you can fool all of the people all of the time? In my opinion we are all called upon to help our sisters and brothers.
Again, I ask that each of you think about what your vote not to support the proposed Virginia Marketplace will mean. Please do not deny worthy citizens the benefits they are due.
Do the right thing with Medicaid
I see that Hanover County’s representatives in the Virginia General Assembly are staunchly against Medicaid Expansion or even Marketplace Virginia, the bipartisan proposal to replace Medicaid Expansion. If they prevail, it will mean that thousands of people these men represent will not get health coverage.
Here are the figures for each representative, according to the Commonwealth Institute: Sen. McDougle represents 11,760 people who will not be covered by any health insurance; Del. Peace represents 3,300 people who will not be covered by any health insurance; Del. Fowler represents 7,710 people who will not be covered by any health insurance.
The Bible (the Hebrew Bible and the Christian New Testament) teaches us that we are our brothers’ keepers. It is the Judeo-Christian tradition that we have a responsibility to those in need. The responsibility is all that much greater for elected officials who represent those in need. So, Sen. McDougle, Del. Peace and Del. Fowler, what about these 22,770 uninsured Virginians you represent?
Setting aside the moral responsibility, let’s look at the bottom line – our tax dollars. We have all paid federal tax dollars that are going to be used for the Affordable Care Act, whether or not Virginia participates. Other states will have the advantage over Virginia by participating in the Affordable Care Act. They will benefit from our tax dollars; we won’t.
Worse yet, hospitals like MCV/VCU, UVA and 30 other Virginia community hospitals that provide emergency room care for the uninsured, will no longer get federal support money. According to the Richmond Times-Dispatch, this loss represents millions of dollars. Without federal support, who will pick up the tab for emergency room care for the uninsured in Virginia? It is the Virginia taxpayer who will pay the tab.
And lastly, there’s the hypocrisy issue. All of our representatives who have voted against government-supported insurance have government-supported insurance themselves in their elected positions as Virginia Senators and Delegates.
Come on, guys. Do the right thing when the General Assembly convenes later this month. Stop playing politics with the sick and with our tax dollars. Vote for the bipartisan solution, Marketplace Virginia.
Healthcare.gov worth a look
As a self-employed person, I am one of those people who could not keep my insurance even I liked it. I actually didn’t like mine that much, because my premium was rapidly approaching the amount of my mortgage, even though I am a robustly healthy, nonsmoking 60-year-old who sees a doctor maybe once a year. So I took the plunge and went on healthcare.gov. Fastest website I have been on in ages. I was asked what state do I live in, my age and whether I smoked. Boom. You’re eligible, pick a plan. Funny how this is not news, when the initial screw-ups were front-page news.
I found a very good plan for 40 percent less than my current policy. There were dozens of options for all budgets. The customer service line picked up immediately, and a very pleasant lady told me what to do once I was enrolled.
As a psychologist in private practice, I am amazed at how many of my patients with lousy insurance or no insurance, many with significant health issues, are not aware that they can do what I did. There are a few who would go bankrupt or die before enrolling in anything associated with you-know-who, but most are just not tuned in. Open enrollment ends March 31. I urge anyone who doesn’t love their insurance to check out healthcare.gov.
Therese M. May