June 2020 BOS Part 2
At the recent Bath County Board of Supervisors meeting on June 11th it was dominated by public comment. Several local Bath County citizens expressed their concerns about the board voting and passing the tax raise for property owners of 55 cents per 100 dollars of assessed value on real estate, and 45 cents per 100 dollars of assessed value on personal property, effective on July 1st.
Carl Chestnut of the Cedar Creek district said followed by Kes Phillips.
“I think ya’ll are doing it at the wrong time. We want these taxes rescinded. I’ve got 351 signatures and we want it rescinded as of tonight.” – Chestnut
“I think y’all picked the wrong to raise taxes for everybody.” – Phillips
Next, Clarie Collins and Wally Robertson shared their concerns of the tax increase followed by Ricky Neff and Jay Trica.
“Any tax or fee increase during the COVID-19 economy would have been supported by taxpayers if processes had been used to gain community support. This would’ve resulted in a community advocating for tax and fee increases. People would actually support it, and guess what? People, even like myself, would advocate for it.” – Collins
“I think it’s sad to think that we’ve got this kind of leadership that comes to the board and then blames it on the previous supervisors’. That’s the poorest excuse I’ve ever heard, to blame it on somebody else.” – Robertson
“You guys can’t get on the same field and think about Bath County. I don’t know why y’all are doing what you’re doing. Nobody is ever on the same gamepage.” – Neff
“The preamble to our Constitution begins ‘We the People’. It does not begin with ‘We the Board of Supervisors’. You must remember that you govern because of We the People. You had no reason to raise our taxes.” – Trinca
Marty Plecker expressed concern about the noise coming from Speyside.
“I’ve asked this Board for help in the past, and still, nobody is willing to help me with my dilemma. I can’t walk my place in the evenings anymore or listen to a whippoorwill, hear a hoot owl, a tree frog or coyote. But my business does not hold a candle to your precious sawmill. I didn’t ask for this. This company is owned off-shores from France. If they’re making so much money, why can’t they enclose or put a sound barrier up? They’ve got all the money, I don’t. I’m an American, I’m not French.”
Board member Roy Burns who represents the Warm Springs district addressed the reasons why the board approved the tax increase. He said,
“These decisions weren’t made during the crisis or pandemic. They were made during a time when unemployment was extremely low, revenue streams were very consistent and healthy, and local businesses enjoyed a very stable economy. It’s true that the county code requires and we keep a balance in our reserves of 20% of our annual budget. It is true that we have more than that. It’s also true that we walked in with a deficit of 2 million dollars, 2 million-plus. If we did not raise taxes and didn’t do anything at all, we would systematically in 2 years be right at that 20%. Now our task at hand is to focus and plan for the future past today, past next year. Yes, we’re worried about right now, but we’re also worried about ‘What about next year and the year after that?’ Because if it keeps getting worse and worse, we will find ourselves as a county not able to incorporate ourselves as a county. So we must focus on the future.”
For AMR News, I’m Abby Dufour