Like the writer of last week’s letter, “Tax Happy Group,” I live in Hanover and I don’t want my taxes to increase. Unfortunately, I’m also a realist, so I’ll skip the sarcasm and point out that what we receive in life doesn’t always live up to our expectations.
While I no longer have school-age children, I still expect the public school system to provide a top-notch education to encourage businesses and industry to locate here, boost the economy and broaden the tax base. I expect the potholes in my street to be fixed and the traffic lights to function. I expect the water and sewer services to work properly and be fixed quickly when they don’t. I expect the county landfill to be open at my convenience. I expect the police and fire department to respond quickly to protect my family. I expect the guilty to be jailed, tried and convicted. I expect my county government to be operated prudently and in a fiscally responsible manner. When I call any county office, I expect the phone to be answered immediately and for my complaints to be addressed. After all, I am a taxpayer.
In short, I expect a great deal of my county government – a lot of bang for the buck. But since I expect so much from it, as a realist, I accept the fact that I must pay for what I receive. I don’t want to pay excessively, but everything has its cost, and I can think of almost nothing that decreases in cost. Why then do I expect the cost of government to remain stagnant or decrease?
Sure, teachers should be lucky they have jobs. In this economic environment, we all should be grateful for a paycheck. And yes, they could go elsewhere, as some have suggested. I hope they won’t. I hear so much about leveraging the future of our children in the context of future indebtedness. What about the future of our children in terms of the quality of education they receive or fail to receive? I recently attended the 50th anniversary of the high school from which I graduated. It was modern then and provided an adequate education for the 1960s. But unless we maintain the standards of our school system, staffing it with gifted and qualified administrators and faculty, we’re doing more of a disservice to our children and future generations than we would be by saddling them with debt.
I do not recall reading a story in the Herald-Progress about frivolities like the county-funded cannery on Route 54 being defunded.
So leaving aside the question of whether or not the Board of Education has been acting as the best-possible steward of its resources, I am reasonably sure that “fire teachers or hike property taxes” is not the sole option in front of us at the moment.
The so-called House “Transportation” Bill 2313, now having passed, will become law pending amendments by Gov. Bob McDonnell.
This legislation will raise the state sales tax, car tax, regional sales tax, vehicle and tangible personal property taxes, vending machine tax, heavy equipment tax, recordation tax on commercial, industrial and residential real property sales, hotel tax, hybrid vehicle tax, and diesel fuel tax. And what is worse, there is no guarantee that all of the money raised will actually go to roads.
Let’s face it. Transportation will always be with us, and as a result massive taxing and spending in uncertain economic times is not the answer.
Last week’s Op/Ed makes a few interesting points about education spending, but the writer has not done their homework on the situation in Hanover.
The student Dale Taylor references is Anthony Smith, a former government student of mine. Anthony’s proposed idea for securing technology in the classroom is excellent. Sadly, the money is not there for the county-based grants he describes. I would make a detailed proposal to turn my classroom into a 21st century one like our students need and one that other students have. My class could be 100 percent online, with no paper and no pencils. Students will write more and use technology on a daily basis like almost all professional working people do. With about 14-28 netbook computers providing a 1:1 or 2:1 ratio of students to computers, I could accomplish this. Does someone out there have the $10,000 to $20,000 this would require? I need a private grant for this project, because it is clear at this point that the Board of Supervisors are not prepared to give my students a single additional dime, despite public outcry clearly asking for funds for schools.
Taylor should also note that our declining enrollment of 3 percent over the past five years does not match the 11 percent drop in school personnel over the same time period. We do need a replacement of at least some of the 322 employees we have lost if Hanover wants a good school system. The Board of Supervisors certainly seems to want a cheap one.
In response to John Shinholser’s letter about Sean Davis’ town hall meetings, he “is certain that less than half of the attendees were actual district constituents.” This suggests that county employees are not constituents and have no say in how their workplace is managed, or that Hanover County residents like myself have no business being at a town hall meeting in a district other than their own. Reducing the public discussion is not a good thing, but apparently Mr. Shinholser thinks so.
Sheriff Hines, realtor Woody Hogg and many other citizens who are not teachers were also present that night, and they specifically called for tax increases to help all county government programs. I agree with their assessment. It is time to fill in the hole.
I am also grateful for my job. It isn’t about me. It is about my three kids in elementary school and students all over Hanover County who deserve the same good education I got. When we lose teachers to attrition, some seem to think that is not a big deal. It is not about the job as much as it is about one less person out there helping our students secure a good future. We need to begin hiring again now.
I want to thank Del. Chris Peace (R-Hanover) for working with the many organizations, local governments and businesses opposed to tolls on I-95 during the 2013 General Assembly session. We appreciate his willingness to discuss with us the hardships that tolling I-95 would cause on our local citizens and businesses. While the General Assembly did not adopt a ban on tolling, it is a clear indication that the legislature does not support tolling I-95.
Del. Peace worked tirelessly to ensure that language to block VDOT’s tolling plan on I-95 was included in the comprehensive transportation bill. We are pleased that a clear message was sent that imposing tolls on I-95 below Fredericksburg was a bad idea, and more importantly, that the Virginia General Assembly, as our elected representatives, will now have control over whether tolls can be imposed on this important transportation corridor.
P. Dale Bennett
President & CEO
Virginia Trucking Association
On behalf of the Doswell Volunteer Fire Company, thanks to our Doswell friends, many Hanover residents and surrounding areas outside of Hanover who purchased our Brunswick stew. We sold completely out, couldn’t even “lick the pot!”
Our fireman really worked hard, stirring the stew for many hours, and is pleased to know that folks enjoyed it. Thank you for your support by purchasing stew and also the many donations we received.
Doris Smith Priebe