Friday, October 30, 2009

Hundreds turn out for Shenandoah Co. assessment meeting

"What do you do with all this money that y'all are taking from us?"
--Fred Parker, Shenandoah County resident, addressing Board of Supervisors (10/29/09)
Hundreds of Shenandoah County residents angry at huge increases in their real estate assessments turned out Thursday night for a meeting with supervisors in the high school gymnasium. From the Northern Virginia Daily:
At the largest supervisors meeting in years -- perhaps in history -- several hundred people filled Central High School's gymnasium seeking answers on the increased reassessments and likelihood of a tax increase as a result.
This takes place six months after Augusta County supervisors saw the largest crowd in history -- 1,000 strong -- turn out to protest their high real estate assessments. The paper continued:
With hundreds of people angry about the recent real estate reassessments present, the chairman of the Shenandoah County Board of Supervisors conceded Thursday night that a meeting with the appraisal group to get justification of its findings was needed.
County Administrator Vince Poling offered a presentation to explain the reassessments:
In the presentation, [Poling] noted that the new reassessment does not necessarily mean a person's taxes will go up, which elicited laughter from the crowd and one person yelling, "Tell us another one."
Thursday's meeting was in place of the scheduled Tuesday meeting that was cancelled after residents showed up at the Government Center.

What is occurring in Shenandoah County happened earlier this year in Augusta County as landowners fear that higher taxes and out-of-control spending by electeds will cause them to lose their homes.

We have been involved with the Augusta assessment issue since the beginning in February 2009 when an overflow crowd of 600 people turned out on a snowy February night for a planning meeting of Augusta Citizens Against Unfair Assessments to hear from attorney Francis Chester and Supervisor Tracy Pyles.

Petitions were circulated throughout the county ... 30+ businesses allowed them in their stores including Tractor Supply, that farm equipment store that has a finger on the pulse of the rural community.

Signatures were collected from more than 10,500 residents and taken to Augusta supervisors ... over 1,000 residents turned out for the supervisor meeting in March, the largest crowd ever in the county's history ... over 50 speakers addressed supervisors at the meeting. In March 2009 this blog reported:

There is a groundswell of discontent among those who pay taxes and feel those taxes are increasingly being squandered by the government. Tough times have hit Americans, something that is evident in the SWAC area of Staunton, Waynesboro, and Augusta County after local companies laid off hundreds of employees ... Invista, Mohawk Carpet, American Safety Razor, Gem Ply, Unifi, Hershey ... as home prices dropped 18% the last quarter of 2008, as housing starts dropped to their lowest level since 1959. Baby boomers have seen half their retirement savings disappear as the Stock Market dropped ... others lost their investments. Unemployment in Augusta County has been reported at over 9%.

Nothing has improved since that time ... in fact, the financial and job situation has become worse. Mohawk Carpet announced they will close down in December. Layoffs have been announced for McQuay in Verona as well as Western State in Staunton.

Yet there is a disconnect between the supervisors and the general population.

Instead of dealing with the assessment issue, Augusta County sued Churchville attorney Francis Chester asking for financial sanctions against him for having the audacity to represent pro bono 10,500 county residents in a lawsuit against the county.

Taking a cue from Augusta, Shenandoah County filed a lawsuit earlier this month against a county resident who is currently a supervisor candidate for having the audacity to ask questions of the board.

The electeds are there to serve the community ... they are paid by citizens ... they are not there to intimidate and humiliate those same taxpaying residents who ask questions and want answers and a transparent government. At what point do they realize Americans cannot shoulder much more of the government's debt?

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