By Lynn R. Mitchell
At Wednesday’s Augusta County supervisors’ budget meeting local resident Bob Dickerman offered remarks to the Board. Supervisors held a public hearing for the proposed tax rate including: raising estate from $0.56 to $0.58 per $100, keeping personal property that consists of autos and motorcycles the same at $2.50. Personal property consisting of large trucks and trailers, and machinery and tools would increase from $1.90 to $2. Personal property made up of campers, boats, boat trailers, horse trailers, airplanes, and trailers would increase from $1.90 to $2.50.
Only one other member of the public spoke, someone with the Valley Program for Aging Services, who thanked supervisors for their funding of services that are necessary for older citizens in the county such as Meals on Wheels, two senior centers, transportation for seniors, public safety, and more.
Since Bob was kind enough to provide a copy of his comments, I will share them:
I’m Bob Dickerman. For the past 45 years I’ve owned a 98.5 acre farm in Buffalo Gap at 228 Old Parkersburg Turnpike, Swoope.
I’m here to advocate significantly INCREASING our Augusta County property tax rate.
And if that’s not enough to wake you up, I’m going to begin by praising President Richard Milhous Nixon.
“Revenue sharing” was one of President Nixon’s good ideas. Revenue was raised most efficiently, he said, by the federal government. But it was usually spent more wisely and effectively at the State and local level. President Nixon thus advocated transferring a good deal of the revenue raised by federal taxes to States and localities.
Since the 1980s, though, anti-tax, and anti-Government sentiment — and elected officials who lacked the integrity to raise the funds required to finance the work that needed to be done — reduced to a trickle what had been significant financial transfers from the federal government to the States, and from the States to counties and cities.
As you Supervisors know better than anyone, this has been an enormous burden onto local government. This is irresponsible politics and terrible economic policy. But it’s the hand we’ve been dealt. And unlike the federal and state governments, we have only our property tax to fund these responsibilities.
So I believe we must bite the bullet. We must raise the funds needed to provide our kids the educations they need to do better than their parents managed to do. This means making our kids competitive in the modern work place. This means more money for better schools, smaller classrooms, and the very best teachers we can attract. But we need also to improve many other county services.
There is much to be proud of in Augusta County. But many of our citizens have serious problems. I think that it is shameful that, in a county with the potential of ours, more than FORTY PERCENT of our school children qualify for free or reduced school meals. Unless we better train this generation, their own children will be equally needy.
I would like the Board of Supervisors to set a long-term goal of reducing this sad statistic year by year. To do so will require leadership and funding. Consider this both a goal and a challenge. Thank you.