Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Augusta BOS meeting: 50 speakers ... others turned away

Joel Salatin and Tom Nelson wait their turn to address Augusta Board of Supervisors on March 11, 2009.

Mike Shull and his 11-year-old daughter, Ashley, and 10-year-old son, Aaron (not seen) addressed the Board. Mr. Shull said his children represented the future of Augusta County farming unless farms are taxed to the point where they have to be sold.

Fifty Augusta County residents addressed the Board of Supervisors Wednesday, March 11. Others were turned away at the door due to the crowd. One of those denied entry wrote a letter to the editor. Speakers were given one minute to state their case, five minutes if they represented a group.

Churchville attorney Francis Chester asked for 10 minutes and, when board chairman Larry Howdyshell told him he could have five minutes, Mr. Chester held up the stack of petitions with over 10,000 signatures and said he would like to have one minute for every 1,000 signatures. He got his 10 minutes.

Here are excerpts of what was said taken from my 18 pages of notes ...

... the board has a problem knowing who its bosses are ... house prices have dropped 18% so how could they raise assessments ... questions of why Mr. Cobb's assessment went down when the speaker's went up ... assessors didn't visit the property for a variety of reasons ... it's under water, has high tension power lines on it, is a drain field, is steep and rocky, no timber ... assessments were too high in 2005 and now they are out of sight ... board should hire in-house appraiser - "Never hire somebody you can't control" ... people are drowning and grasping for a straw - never seen such disrespect for our great people ...

... "you're destroying what built this great nation" ... Blue Ridge Mass Apprisal was the common denominator in problems in many other counties in Virginia ... Pat Coffield only saw a 5.74% increase in his real estate assessment ... unemployment in 2005 was 2.4% but is now 5.2% in Augusta County ... signing off on the assessments before this meeting was like thumbing their nose at everyone in this room [huge applause] ... budget should be examined because there is a fitness center in there and other pork ... if farm land is sold, 300 houses will end up on the property ...

... "Why are you ignoring the people you represent and not listening? You've forgotten who you work for. We live in constant fear of losing our homes" ... cut spending, cut spending, cut spending ... supervisors elected to follow the will of the people - we are the people! ... out-of-control spending by the county ... we have a corrupt government [amens from the crowd] ... will agriculture survive as the future of the county when outrageous assessments could be taxing people off their land ... seek additional legal advice besides just the county attorney - need a second opinion ... throw out the '09 assessments, throw out the '09 assessments, throw out the '09 assessments ...

... "What were you all thinking?" ... [shouts of "resign" from the crowd] ... land prices are so high young people will not be able to buy and they are the future ... terrible appraisals ...

... "I've never been involved in politics before but I will vote for anyone who runs against the incumbents even if it's Forrest Gump!"

These are just a few samples of what was said. Remarks from the public concluded at 9:45 pm.

Meanwhile, as speakers were addressing the board, clapping and cheering could be heard coming from those sitting in the hallway listening to the proceedings on speakers. Inside the board room cheers, boos, and shouting were heard throughout the remarks. Something is going on in America, and it is being seen right here in Augusta County.

Photos by SWAC Girl
Lynn Mitchell
March 11, 2009

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