Although much has been made of my recommended funding methodology for the schools (aka categorical funding) and my philosophy of fiscal conservatism there is one facet of my campaign that has largely gone unnoticed; advocacy for economic development.
We can debate the idea of hearings, meetings or surveys to learn of the taxpayer’s desires as to what level of taxation and how it is spent is acceptable to them. But we generally gravitate back to what the real estate tax is and/or should be to finance the expenses of providing the services we as a community expect that makes us a unique and quality community in which to live, work and raise a family. And further, we speak of the real estate tax rate in terms of housing which limits our focus on revenue generation. As the community continues to grow our focus needs to expand as well to embrace another source of revenue that consumes very little of our services but adds tremendous economic benefit; Economic Development.
When the County contemplated combining the EDC and IDA into our Economic Development Authority, I suggested we ask for a modification of the Code of Virginia that would allow a member of the BOS to serve as a voting member of the EDA. Delegate Randy Minchew sponsored a bill that accomplished that idea. I further asked to be appointed as the BOS member on the EDA, that request was approved, and I have served on the EDA since its inception. In addition, I have sought out quality candidates from various industries to form a well-rounded board that represents the spectrum of industry in our county.
With economic development revenue to balance the cost of providing expanded services to our growing residential base we can continue to provide excellent services and maintain a reasonably low tax rate. But there are even more benefits to economic development; jobs. As our manufacturing/industrial base grows it provides good paying job opportunities for you, your children and others seeking to work and live locally. It also provides business for our local commercial businesses, contractors and trades companies, which increases other tax revenue streams like business licenses, sales tax and machinery and tools.
I have recently voted to expand our economic base, but that vote failed, which given the economic benefit it would have provided puzzles me. Even a vote to take potential economic development to a public hearing, so all sides could be heard, and proposals vetted, was met with some resistance. I fear the business community will soon begin to question our commitment to economic development and look elsewhere to site their plants or expand their footprint. That scenario has grave consequences for our county.
If fiscal conservatism, support for excellent service delivery and robust economic development appeals to you, I ask you to come vote for me in the Republican Primary on April 30 from 4 pm to 8 pm at the Greenwood Firehall.