Letter: What the public’s hearing: done deals

The facts of your April 30 article on the Rappahannock County budget really should come as no surprise to anyone. In my opinion, the outcome of the meeting was preordained, as it has been for many years. After all, the “public hearing” is for the public to hear the decision already made, not for gathering input. That fits the same pattern as the monthly meetings of boards where the public comment period is largely disconnected from the real agenda, when no comment is allowed. Several supervisors made comments in the article about being personally hit by the tax raise but said the county was helpless to avoid this solution — comments so wishy-washy they make my stomach churn.

The school budget continues to grow despite shrinking enrollment. Some of what I consider extravagance has already been cited by a number of sources: raises for the school board and their health insurance (the BOS as well); problems with what appears to be excessive school bus engine replacements (which might suggest bad maintenance practices or driving skills, or perhaps both). Why are we adding staff to the system? This seems a good question to ask in light of shrinking enrollment. Yes, we need to ensure proper education for our youngsters, but why the frivolous expenses that burden the entire taxpaying public?

It also seems like we have a Cadillac version sheriff’s department relative to actual county needs. How many fully tricked-out cars do we need? I can’t recall a case where the department had to make an emergency full-force deployment to avoid a catastrophe. We are not downtown Baltimore or Los Angeles. I can’t begin to understand staffing levels.

Taken together, the picture I see is that our elected officials lack either the ability or courage to make hard choices. The only solution they see is to raise taxes. That’s why meeting attendance continues to drop. There two statistic which I would like to see concerning our county. It may well provide some insight into this problem: How many of our general population and how many of the parents with kids in the school system are landowners/homeowners, and how many are renters?

Yes I fully understand that we are all responsible to provide for the best public schools possible. What we can also do is demand better stewardship of scarce resources from our leadership.

Bill Freitag
Flint Hill

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