It's been a busy week and I'm still working on my post from Wednesday night's Augusta County public hearing to consider raising taxes, but some things have stood out. The lack of protesters showing up at this meeting and an earlier town hall meeting (five citizens attended) appears to indicate people realize backs are to the wall and there needs to be a tax increase.
Sure, there were twenty-two at Wednesday's meeting who spoke out against the tax increase. But in a room of sixty citizens, about half were tea party people and older folks who protested taxes of any kind, and the other half were made up of those who felt taxes were necessary, the media, fire and rescue folks, and government center staffers. (Background info and links are here.)
The SOS (Save Our Schools) group came out on February 22, 2012 -- an overflow crowd of 400 teachers, parents, students, and members of the community asking that their taxes be raised to be sure and cover core services. They followed that up by attending school board meetings, and then a school budget was adopted. Their voices had been heard. Wednesday night was when a handful of tea partiers came out to make their case.
Members of the community -- farmers, small business owners, insurance agents, neighbors -- have voiced that they realize the price of everything has gone up. Noticed the price of gas at the pump lately? Groceries? Costs have risen for local governments, too, and numerous citizens have told their supervisors that they understand the need for a tax increase.
After years of making cuts and laying off employees, many localities -- including Augusta, Staunton, Waynesboro, Harrisonburg, and Rockingham -- have hit the wall. They can either dip into their rainy day funds or raise taxes or start cutting off core services such as law enforcement, schools, and fire and emergency (in the past two weeks, Augusta County has had three total-loss house fires, one each in Stuarts Draft, Mt. Sidney, and Crimora).
Even Shaun Kenney, an extremely conservative leader who is chairman of the Fluvanna Board of Supervisors, has been faced with the writing on the wall and is supporting tax increases with his board.
The bills are due. What is the fiscally conservative thing to do? Should we kick the can down the road to the next board or city council and let them worry about it, or do we take personal responsibility and face the problem square-on?
At my house, we face it square-on. We need to pay our bills. How we do it is the question: dip into savings or raise taxes? Either way, something has to be done.
Cross-posted at Bearing Drift