Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Campaign 2011:And so it begins

Has the 2011 Campaign begun already?

We have not even reached the Nov. 2 elections yet but it appears that local officials here in Chesterfield County have already begun there campaigns for their re-election cycle by once again playing politics with citizens tax dollars.

I have to admit it was pretty unbelievable given these economic times and the tone right now of the electorate in general that our local government is considering a 3% bonus to be paid to certain government employees. I mean wasn't it about eight months ago we were talking budget deficits for schools and facing a reduced State-funding component? How can the local government feel confident that we are not going to face even tougher times ahead?

Isn't the County collecting less revenue than the last few years? I understand that the County has lowered its overall budget by 34 million or 4% for this coming year, but at a time when the times are forcing our government to make due with less I question whether it is constructive at this juncture to use the surplus in the form of a bonus plan.

The bonus was one of the potential uses of the surplus the County experienced at the close of the fiscal year in June. Allan M. Carmody, Director of Budget and Management for the County listed the 3% bonus as one of the options that the 28.5 million dollar surplus could be used for. The 3% bonus would cost the County 4.75 million of the total surplus.

The 3% bonus is basically a 3% of current salary for those employed by the County for at least one full year. One full year? Comments from local officials do not see to illustrate the one full year component given the fact that Supervisor Daniel Gecker from Midlothian stated that the bonus should be paid to employees given it was there work that provided the surplus.

The notion of returning such surplus to taxpayers or not spending it at all appears void of Mr. Gecker's political DNA. It appears as though some local officials like Mr. Gecker feel compelled to spend the surplus no matter what. Mr. Carmody referred to the 3% bonus plan as "performance recognition".

Performance recognition? Given the fact that the County has failed to accurately budget in the past, how confident are they that they will get all the State resources that they think are coming. Chances are they will, but isn't the role of government to budget and spend based on what they know and not what they hope. At this point, officials have to know that the collection of revenues will be less than years past and thus far the 4% or so cuts that have already been made are commendable but do those cuts warrant a "performance recognition".

As it stands today, two officials in Supervisor Gecker and Holland have endorsed the 3 % bonus plan recommended by Mr. Carmody.

Mr. Gecker went own to express that "we cut hopefully as much as we have to cut" referring apparently to the 4% reduction in spending, but it begs the question why would not our leaders seek to continually cut out the waste and bloat in the County budget. Why must the cuts stop now merely because the budget office anticipates a surplus?

The Board of Supervisors at large however have agreed to defer the matter until its Nov. 17th meeting.

15 comments:

Anonymous said...
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Andrea Epps said...

Hey there Alter.

I am deeply concerned about the revenue forecasts for the future, and I'm concerned about some of the formulas the state uses to allocate funding. You have a valid point about saving all the money we possibly can. I agree we're going to need it. However,if memory serves me correctly, the state employees received a bonus this year because they have had no raises in the past two years. I know the county employees haven't had one either, and the way I understand it, all of the county employees would get the bonus.

I support giving them this bonus even in light of my aforementioned fear because:
1. It's going to staff, not politicians.It goes to the people who do all of the work...and put up with me :)
2. Mr. Carmody is the most conservative, responsible budget manager in the world and I trust him.
Now, this might not make sense to some people, but I tend to support staff because I believe they deserve it.

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Anonymous said...

All do respect to Mrs. Epps but if you look at the budgets projected say for FY2010 and out she would see that areas like BOS budgets will be increasing or forcasted to increase. Sure, some areas were reduced but much of the CIP for instance was merely pushed back one or two years. That money/plans were approved and they intend on going forward with the buildout in the CIP. What happens if the housing market does not improve? Is Mrs. Epps going to support an increase in property tax levels to bring us back to 07/08 revenue levels based on current assessment values. I firmly reject the notion that the cuts made were enough and I know that some Sup. have said there will be no more but it seems to me that quite a few budget areas in the overall FY10 is still full of fat. Maybe Alter could examine that and provide some opinion?!!

Joe in Bon Air said...

I found you on Facebook through the Alter of Freedom group so thank you!

I agree there should be some real concern over the "projections" going forward. If last Tusday is any indication, it proves that things in the politcial rhelm can shift very quickly.

I fail to understand why our leaders, especially Mr. Gecker, always focus attention on State funding allocation as a means of providing services to the County. Like every politican they simply spend that money on anticipation of receiving funds, but what happens when those funds are reduced and not materialize? Shortfalls!

We really need a new direction and new leadership. Not the knee jerk election like 2007. I mean a focused plan and vision for the County. I really like what Mr. Scott has been speaking to about the role of local government and how the lessons we see in Washington should be applied locally regarding appropriations and funding services. We need to prioritize and have our government reflect our community values and have a government seeking to have the community reflect its values (Sportsquest for example).

I find it very troubling that people that promised to curb developmer infleunce have not done one thing to accomplish that save creating a community committee. We moved forward with Westchester Commons and will move with Roseland, even after the slowing buildout of Magnolia Green which was another major planning issue in the previous five years.

I agree with Mr. Scott. Are these new planning initiatives neccessary when we are stilling on the largest inventory of homes; vacant new homes, foreclosures, re-sales etc? Citizens need to understand that the home values will never tick to the upside as long as the County continues to flod the market with zoning approvals. The less homes on the market the higher the homes on the market will be valued. Its that simple.

Alter of Freedom said...

I am in the process of examining the entire budget and will certainly review what transpires within the Board regarding the 3% bonus.

There are some differing opinions now that the story as broken to the community. And to think had the story regarding the bonus plan not, it would have virtually moved moved with little or no time for the public to comment. This from a group of people who pledge to be "more transparent" than the last Board!

A Mad Taxpayer said...

This Board is alot better than the GOP crooks that were voted out.

That BOS raised and raised Real Estate taxes. Mine went up over thirty percent during that four year period.

DC and Rich have never pulled a stunt like that.

Anonymous said...

And Mad Taxpayers assessments went up and up all along the way increasing the value and worth of the property owner. So let me pass the kleenex to Mad Taxpayer!! You are paying the price for poor planning and having to make up for required funds based on budgets that are unsustainable. In fact, with declinging property values you can bet THIS Board if re-elected will have to pass INCREASES to the property tax rate merely to keep pace with the necessary revenuesto fund what is budgeted for 2012 and out. The error was reducing the rate in 2008. Had this not been undertaken and the Board amended FY2011 in the manner in which they were forced to this year the County would be sitting on true resources to upgrade infrastructure. Instead they play the "surplus" shell game!!!

Mad Taxpayer said...

wish I knew what tangible value I received from my home increasing in value on paper. I did not refi or use the value for any other purpose.

The BOS gave most of the increase to the CCPS. Where did it go?
They hired s many 100k+ executives they had to rent additional office space and remodeled it to boot. They built country club schools in bad locations. They are spending 15 mil a year for free health insurance to retirees. The biggest kick in the shorts is the retirement bonus they put in for teachers. You get 100k over 5 or 10 years to retire early. Then the CCPS has to hire another body to replace the early retiree who also gets free health insurance. We end up with a school cost structure that cannot be sustained in normal years much less than in lean years.

Whenever there is a money windfall, government either wastes or steals it. Look at what happened to the tobacco money. Gilmore's boy stole who knows how much. AND he was not the only one.

There will be ZERO chance of a real estate tax increase in Chesterfield unless the GOP slithers back in. Humphrey and King did not become poor while on the Board. The Chesterfield GOP can outspend a San Francisco liberal and out steal a Chicago mafia and union city councilman.

JoeinBonAir said...

Mad Taxpayer:

So who exactly are you mad at?

Were you mad when this Board came into office and the GOP lost seats and simply continued the same land use philosophy as the previous leadership. Chester Village, Magnolia Green (original developer defaulted), WestChester Commons, Charter Colony expansion and of course the largest development coming up in Roseland? Explain how you perceive this Board as being different other than lofty promises of "smart growth" and "green growth". This Board simply does not fill positions that were vacant at the outset and calls it reduction. NO! A reduction in truth is letting a government worker go and reducing the real payroll not simply sustain the status quo.
I wonder how you see the tax rate not going up given what we have seen in all the other localities regarding a reduction in tax revenues? Take a drive in Hampton Park, Foxcroft and other areas in Matoaca where foreclosures are now pushing Chesterfield to the top of the list in Virginia. Do you think the County is going to receive any revenue from these homes or those still in inventory in the marketplace? Does this Board have a plan to address the excessive inventory in the County? Or will they simply just approve new zonings for new developers to come on line thus driving existing home values and homes on the market (resale) further south?
I think is funny that you think that the GOP in Chesterfield will raise taxes? Historically the GOP is for lower taxes and in Chesterfield virtually all of those reductions have been at the hands of local GOP members save this last reckless reduction. In fact, the previous Board would not have reduced the rate because at least they saw the writing on the wall regarding the housing crisis.
And by the way, I do not recall any government official stepping up for pay cuts like Mr. Newsome of the CCPS (7% reduction). What about Jay Stagmier? No. Jay took a bonus raise less than two years on the job!!
One can certainly attack the Schools are they want but the fact remains they are not as a percentage of the overall budget getting any more funding than before. We may not like what the schools have done with that funding, but then thats why we have School Board officials to vote on every four years as well.
That said, you cannot attack the school system for the fact they are at the mercy of the Planning Commission and BOS regarding zonings resulting in an over capacity of schools. How many schools in the County are currently over capacity? Is that the CCPS fault? Do they have any say in the zoning process?
Example:
Leaders like Supervisor Gecker will support Roseland which potentially will zone some five thousand homes to come on line over the next say 10 years. If only 1/3 actually come on line thats 1,500 if the market rebounds. They tell us the avergae home in Chesterfield has 1.62 children. So will we not be adding over 2,000 new students to the rolls over that time even at modest home starts? Is Midlothian prepared? Is Matoaca prepared? What are those schools like today in terms of capacity?
You will also get hit with about 3,000 new cars on the road given the avergage home has two cars as well. Are the roads ready to take an increase of traffic counts based on current status?
Mad Taxpayer there is much to be mad at; just think that anger should be directed at the right people responsible for what we are facing.

JoeinBonAir said...

Mad Taxpayer:

So who exactly are you mad at?

Were you mad when this Board came into office and the GOP lost seats and simply continued the same land use philosophy as the previous leadership. Chester Village, Magnolia Green (original developer defaulted), WestChester Commons, Charter Colony expansion and of course the largest development coming up in Roseland? Explain how you perceive this Board as being different other than lofty promises of "smart growth" and "green growth". This Board simply does not fill positions that were vacant at the outset and calls it reduction. NO! A reduction in truth is letting a government worker go and reducing the real payroll not simply sustain the status quo.
I wonder how you see the tax rate not going up given what we have seen in all the other localities regarding a reduction in tax revenues? Take a drive in Hampton Park, Foxcroft and other areas in Matoaca where foreclosures are now pushing Chesterfield to the top of the list in Virginia. Do you think the County is going to receive any revenue from these homes or those still in inventory in the marketplace? Does this Board have a plan to address the excessive inventory in the County? Or will they simply just approve new zonings for new developers to come on line thus driving existing home values and homes on the market (resale) further south?
I think is funny that you think that the GOP in Chesterfield will raise taxes? Historically the GOP is for lower taxes and in Chesterfield virtually all of those reductions have been at the hands of local GOP members save this last reckless reduction. In fact, the previous Board would not have reduced the rate because at least they saw the writing on the wall regarding the housing crisis.
And by the way, I do not recall any government official stepping up for pay cuts like Mr. Newsome of the CCPS (7% reduction). What about Jay Stagmier? No. Jay took a bonus raise less than two years on the job!!
One can certainly attack the Schools are they want but the fact remains they are not as a percentage of the overall budget getting any more funding than before. We may not like what the schools have done with that funding, but then thats why we have School Board officials to vote on every four years as well.
That said, you cannot attack the school system for the fact they are at the mercy of the Planning Commission and BOS regarding zonings resulting in an over capacity of schools. How many schools in the County are currently over capacity? Is that the CCPS fault? Do they have any say in the zoning process?
Example:
Leaders like Supervisor Gecker will support Roseland which potentially will zone some five thousand homes to come on line over the next say 10 years. If only 1/3 actually come on line thats 1,500 if the market rebounds. They tell us the avergae home in Chesterfield has 1.62 children. So will we not be adding over 2,000 new students to the rolls over that time even at modest home starts? Is Midlothian prepared? Is Matoaca prepared? What are those schools like today in terms of capacity?
You will also get hit with about 3,000 new cars on the road given the avergage home has two cars as well. Are the roads ready to take an increase of traffic counts based on current status?
Mad Taxpayer there is much to be mad at; just think that anger should be directed at the right people responsible for what we are facing.

JoeinBonAir said...

Mad Taxpayer:

So who exactly are you mad at?

Were you mad when this Board came into office and the GOP lost seats and simply continued the same land use philosophy as the previous leadership. Chester Village, Magnolia Green (original developer defaulted), WestChester Commons, Charter Colony expansion and of course the largest development coming up in Roseland? Explain how you perceive this Board as being different other than lofty promises of "smart growth" and "green growth". This Board simply does not fill positions that were vacant at the outset and calls it reduction. NO! A reduction in truth is letting a government worker go and reducing the real payroll not simply sustain the status quo.
I wonder how you see the tax rate not going up given what we have seen in all the other localities regarding a reduction in tax revenues? Take a drive in Hampton Park, Foxcroft and other areas in Matoaca where foreclosures are now pushing Chesterfield to the top of the list in Virginia. Do you think the County is going to receive any revenue from these homes or those still in inventory in the marketplace? Does this Board have a plan to address the excessive inventory in the County? Or will they simply just approve new zonings for new developers to come on line thus driving existing home values and homes on the market (resale) further south?
I think is funny that you think that the GOP in Chesterfield will raise taxes? Historically the GOP is for lower taxes and in Chesterfield virtually all of those reductions have been at the hands of local GOP members save this last reckless reduction. In fact, the previous Board would not have reduced the rate because at least they saw the writing on the wall regarding the housing crisis.
And by the way, I do not recall any government official stepping up for pay cuts like Mr. Newsome of the CCPS (7% reduction). What about Jay Stagmier? No. Jay took a bonus raise less than two years on the job!!
One can certainly attack the Schools are they want but the fact remains they are not as a percentage of the overall budget getting any more funding than before. We may not like what the schools have done with that funding, but then thats why we have School Board officials to vote on every four years as well.
That said, you cannot attack the school system for the fact they are at the mercy of the Planning Commission and BOS regarding zonings resulting in an over capacity of schools. How many schools in the County are currently over capacity? Is that the CCPS fault? Do they have any say in the zoning process?
Example:
Leaders like Supervisor Gecker will support Roseland which potentially will zone some five thousand homes to come on line over the next say 10 years. If only 1/3 actually come on line thats 1,500 if the market rebounds. They tell us the avergae home in Chesterfield has 1.62 children. So will we not be adding over 2,000 new students to the rolls over that time even at modest home starts? Is Midlothian prepared? Is Matoaca prepared? What are those schools like today in terms of capacity?
You will also get hit with about 3,000 new cars on the road given the avergage home has two cars as well. Are the roads ready to take an increase of traffic counts based on current status?
Mad Taxpayer there is much to be mad at; just think that anger should be directed at the right people responsible for what we are facing.

Anonymous said...

If those schools were forced upon the CCPS by the BOS, who was on the BOS?

The GOP mafia.

TC Robinson said...

Excellent post, Joe. And let me just say Matoaca is not prepared either. I plan to do something about that.

Anonymous said...

GOP mafia?

Really?

I believe it was Mr. Gecker in Midlothian that was on the Planning Commission before being elected to the BOS and was appointed by Ed Barber (A democrat). In fact, Gecker ran earlier as a Democrat in a Special Election after the removal of Ed Barber and lost. It was only after he opted to run in the regular election as an "indepedent" that the GOP-leaning voters inMidlothian held their noses and voted for him.

Regardless, Gecker's hands are all over this planning mess! He has been there for eight years or more. He has sat by and approved the very zoning cases that have created the very need for CCPS to build schools like Cosby and now the other proposed ones.

Gecker will play the experience card in 2011, but voters in Midlothian must seriously ask just what his kind of experience has brought us.

I dare say you cannot point to one single thing he has done to eliminate or reduce the public and private friction between the BOS and the CCPS. In fact, gecker has inflamed the situation continually. By telling the public that the level of education TODAY at schools like Crestwood Elementary are worse off now than five years ago is not born out frankly by any of the testing being done. Gecker's comments were an attempt to play even greater politics in the matter and has offered up zero solutions for our future or the future of our schools.

Wait. Gecker's lone accomplishment the last two years; SportsQuest!