Friday, November 20, 2009

News Virginian: Augusta County supervisors ignored warning

The Waynesboro News Virginian was a champion of the people of Augusta County throughout the 2009 real estate assessment issue when outrageously high assessments were loudly protested by residents by the hundreds and even as warnings were issued by Supervisor Tracy Pyles.

The NV's Wednesday editorial talked about that very issue which is looming after supervisors ignored Mr. Pyles' warnings that began a year ago about the coming financial abyss.

Writing in "Index nips now, chomps later," the editoral sounds off:
A fireplug of a fellow, Tracy Pyles is accustomed to playing the part of a yapping hound on a tight leash. Having ignored his barks about a bureaucratic bedevilment known as the composite index, Augusta County supervisors now are feeling the bite of the thing at their backsides, and so the people’s.

Somewhere in the smoky mist of his mostly lonely and entirely futile campaign against a massive property reassessment earlier this year, Pyles admonished his colleagues on the supervisors board that heightened values now would cost the county state money later. How? State aid for schools is based on the composite index, which is based on property values, the aim of it all being to ensure that poorer districts get a larger state share. Wealth being defined by property, increased values frequently translate to a smaller helping of state money.

This is one of the reasons Pyles contended, and we agreed with him, that the supervisors ought not assume that simply lowering tax rates would solve the problem of a reassessment that drove up values by roughly a fourth at a time when elsewhere appraisals were plunging. In fact, to Pyles’ particular point, leveling tax revenues by lowering the rate – a move we are almost always inclined to support – opens deeper fiscal wounds when values have soared and the economy is stalled: it means not equal money but less.

Already, Augusta is losing $750,000 in state education aid next year under recently released composite index recalculations. Almost three-fourths of the state’s 134 districts – including Waynesboro and Staunton – face similar predicaments.
It goes on to say the financial hit has not even been factored in yet so worse days are yet to come, as predicted nine months ago by Mr. Pyles.

Just as private citizens in America, Virginia, and Augusta County have had to tighten their belts and decrease spending, so should our government officials at all levels decrease spending of our taxpayer money. As Augusta County continues to reel from lost jobs and a sluggish economy, residents should demand supervisors put a moratorium on new projects until the economic outlook brightens.

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