Friday, April 13, 2007

Budget Passed in Chesterfield

After some open session with County residents, the BOS passed its 2008 Fiscal Budget. In a time where there is so much doubt over how the General Assembly will come down on funding for localities transportation needs it is apparent that certain members of the BOS are hopeful it will get some relief.
The budget itself is a 1.17 billion package for the county and is up sixty million from last years. Following assessments that had risen 16% in the county, county revenue would certainly have soared and outpaced population growth plus inflation. If the budgets for certaain areas within the overall budget are exceeding required or neccessary funding it begs the question why are we overlooking the dire need to fix our transportation problems. In all fairness to the BOS transportation is a tuff issue with varing dynamics, but it is a mistake on their part to take the politcally expediate way out by lowering property tax rates. The debate basically was whether the rate would be lowered from 1.04 to either .99 or .97. The final result was a tax rate of .97 per $100 of assessed value.
Looking at the statements of the BOS it appears as if the lower rate is an attempt to bring county residents relief from the assesments increase. Why is it the county is not addressing those very assessments to begin with. Chesterfield is the fourth largest locality in the State. How does it compare to the other top three?
BOS members Sowder, Warren, and Miller were the driving forces behind the target rate of .97. and overcame members Humphrey and King who sought the .99 rate.
The strangest thing about the results and this budget are that predominately everyone speaking at the open forums addressed roads, schools and the assessments themselves. In a measure to relieve residents of around $200 a year they are negelecting the roads and certainly the schools needs.
This BOS and the one elected this Fall should be held accountable to delivering a plan that would: END THE EDUCATION OF OUR CHILDREN IN TRAILERS.
The increasing problems and burdens within our county systems are a direct result of the BOS pro-growth at all costs policies and the failure to hold developers in our county accountable for their share.
Explain how the county systems/services will be able to support the Magnolia development along 360 that will begin phase one later this year. What about the infrastructure that such a development will require; new schools, new libraries and new roads. What about the impact on county life itself. Things like church memeberships are already maxed and the waiting lists at pre-schools in the county are growing as it is.
The Fall Election for the BOS will be a critical one for the future of Our County. Expect Alter of Freedom to be going door to door in support of those who are in favor of "Smart" growth.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Rate Lowered in Chesterfield

This just in Wednesday night.Chesterfield County will be lowering its real esate property tax from 1.04 to .97. The proposed .99 (a five cent reduction) was further educed in debate to .97 by the BOS Wednesday night.
**the true issue for residents became the tax rate because the real estate assesments had seen about a 16% increase. Residents will still see there annual tax bill rise. The rate however is still considerably less than nearby Richmond.

One thought raised in all of this is if real estate values are increasing as well and owners have seen tremondous growth in the value of their respective homes in the last five years. Ownership in the county has been a great investment and for those who have sold their property they have seen a much greater return from 2002 to 2007 then say 1996 to 2001.

What should have happened was the BOS should have lowered the rate to its proposed rate and mandated that a portion say .03 to .05 be set aside directly for roads and transportation funding. Residents while realizing an increase would have at least seen a direct benefit of having their tax dollars actually go where the County needs it most. Better yet the BOS should have expanded the tax relief program in place for those truly in need of it (Seniors, handicap, etc.) maintained the property rate and dedicated .07 to transportation concerns. Thats over 200 million dollars over the next 10 years to fix our roads.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Matoaca BOS Seat

The Chesterfield Republican Committee will seek a district canvass scheduled around first week of June to determine the Republican candidate for the BOS seat for the Matoaca currently held by Renny Humphrey. The two Republicans in the running thus far will be Kevin Salminen and Mark Tubbs. Mr. Tubbs has run for the BOS before, however it was in the Clover Hill district when he ran as an Independent against Art Warren in 2003.
Two other county residents are building campaigns for the seat, Eli Jones and Marleen Durfee. Mr. Jones is an eighteen year old member of the Constitution Party who has begun campiagning in the district already and Mrs. Durfree , an Independent, has yet to formally announce but filed with the County in March.
The Matoaca district voters face a great number of issues to get themselves around this Fall, but the two most vare talking about are development growth and schools. Most of its schools are at capacity or have trailers and many new zonings are before the Planning Commission and BOS currently.

Immigrations & Localities

While the Immigration issue has gravitated back out of the national focus, though President Bush has announced a somewhat new focus of sorts as of late, many Localities are being forced to take a look at the issue on a varied local level. The Amercian Civil Liberties Union would prefer to keep the issue of illegal immigration as National (Federal) issue and keep all its regulatory functions on that level and is currently going head to head in courts with local juristictions who are taking the issue on themselves. (Pennslyvania)
We have seen some issues in our area arise as well. Schools are not allowed to require citizenship or even ask for status but merely county residency to permit enrollment. Schools are such a huge issue right now, but do we really understand the impact of illegal immigration has on the County school system. Has the BOS or School Board authorized a study on this matter?
Localities in NVA like Herndon are particpating in programs sponsored by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) where a certain number of officers each year will be trained in enforcement of federal laws by the ICE. The local police and ICE will work together to identify and detain illegal immigrants.
This program is by far more effective than simply having law enforcement learn foriegn languages. While learning to communicate with memebers of the community itself is effective it appears as though taxpayers are taking it twice; educating illegal immigrants on our schools and paying for our agencies to learn to communicate with immigrants. Mind you there are thousands of legal immigrants that are absolutely law abiding citizens that our agencies need to be able to communicate which makes the descision to teach our agencies foriegn languages a sound one, however it should be used along with other means of curbing the influx and impact that illegals are sure to have on the area in the next ten years. If the extent of local policy with regard to the immigration problem is simply having law enforcement learn to speak certain languages than the policy is flawed.

Friday, April 6, 2007

Selection in the 68th

I have spoke of the candidates for the 68th district racing so far to meet Indpendent Katherine Waddell who defeated Brad Marrs (R) back in 2005 in previous posts and things are beginning to heat up..finally. The Chesterfield GOP and those from Richmond are faced with the issue of selecting a candidate, or determine how to select, to run for the seat in the House of Delegates in the Fall.
Since the Republicans do not have an incumbant in the seat, the committee must determine whether to move forward with a canvass, convention,caucas or an open primary. The Party can chose the method they prefer to determine the candidate. In fact, the Party also will be allowed to determine "participation" in the process. If it is a canvass or primary it is my understanding that only those deemed Republicans may participate. Where will the canvass be held? Chesterfield or Richmond?
Alook into the potential delegates demonstrates that most of the money in the process already is coming from the Richmond side of the river. Though it represents a smaller part of the distrcits overall numbers, Manoli Loupassi is fortunate enough to piggy back his run for City Council and its fundraising into his new campaign. has Loupassi showing some $170,978 versus William Shewmake $5,500. It appears as if some $47,182 is coming off of Loupassi council bid coming from Friends of Loupassi.
These potential Republican candidates aren't without some controversy. Loupassi recently moved into the 68th and has been criticized for doing so for political purposes and Shewmake is a former Democrat who has been characterized as changing parties but not idealogy in order to get on the Republican ticket. Shewmake has some support in the county however, BOS Matoaca district has contributed to the Shewmake run. Loupassi donated funds supporting the Republican BOS candidate in Midlothian last Fall who won office.
If either of these potential candidates paid any attention to the feelings of the voters expressed at the last BOS open meeting last month, Republicans (the entire BOS) are on the hot seat. Voters are looking for transportation funding, tax relief, and solutions for our schools and whatever results the BOS fail to deliver will certainly be remembered.
When voters go to the polls this Fall, not only will the 68th be on the ballot but also the seats on the BOS. How the BOS goes so could the 68th. If the Republican Party does not handle this well with a canvass or primary so to could that impact the election itself in the Fall.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Kaine and Smoking "Cloud"

Now I know I do not usually talk much about Statewide legislation, unless of of course it has to do with funding say transportation issues locally, but the smoking issue that has consumed Richmond politics for weeks now seems wildly misplaced and timely if you want the truth. I think this is not a real issue for Kaine, no matter what or how many times he speaks about it. Why? The issue as he knew was a tuff sell, but he did what he was supposed to do and tried to sell it. He knew it would not pass, and it did not 59-40. My issue with is with the politics of it all. How many things did this General Assembly not get held accountable for while the papers, talk radio and TV were covering this so called issue. It was never a real issue. It was a distraction from the hard issues that no one wnats to be held accountable for. Sure Transportation funding was approved, an election year neccessity, but Virginia loses in the deal. The package will not meet the growing demand for improvements. But hey, forget about roads focus on smokers and worker rights...the real issues of the day here in Virginia.

As most of you know, the restaurant business is dear to me, but I never really got this whole smoking ban issue except to say that when you blow smoke...eventually it disappears as did this Genral Assembly chnace for real change.

Personally, not a smoker but boy have some folks got it in for them. The issue was about "rights"...the consumer right to spend his or her money wherever they like. Smoking or not consumers make the choice and government should not be making that choice for people.

My message to Gov. Kaine: You have bills like HB 1627 ( a boater safety bill) that matter. If you have not signed it so. Fact remains more Virginians die very year on the water than are killed by second hand smoke.