As the community gets ready for election day on November 6th,

Charlottesville Tomorrow

is preparing to mail our non-partisan voter guides featuring the results of interviews with each of the candidates for

Charlottesville City Council

and the

Albemarle County Board of Supervisors

.

Over the next few weeks, this blog will feature some of the questions that did

not

make the cut for the voter guide, but which still offer important insights into the candidates’ views on local growth and development issues.



Our

Election Watch 2007 website

includes the complete audio and written transcript for each candidate interview.

Subscribe to our e-mails

to get immediate notification of the availability of the

2007 Voter Guides

.  The content below are excerpts pulled from the verbatim transcripts.



BOARD OF SUPERVISORS, THIRD IN A SERIES



In the last County budget, significant attention was paid by the Board of Supervisors to finding new sources of revenue and to lowering the real estate property tax rate.  Some proposed new initiatives were scaled back or eliminated.  No reductions were made to existing local government operational expenses for fiscal year 2008.  What improvements would you make to our budget process, our allocation of tax dollars, and the funding of new strategic initiatives?



RIVANNA


Ken Boyd (R)-Incumbent

: I think that our biggest problem is that our budget needs overhauling…  At my urging, we are now finally after eight years of me advocating this… we’re setting up joint meetings with the School Board and with the Board of Supervisors to discuss how we can better do a job of our budget.  In essence, for years, our budget has been based on the appraised value of property and whatever it comes in at and those were good years because those property values were going way up.  During those years, I was also instrumental in having the tax rate dropped and on two different occasions, from 76 cents down to 68 cents, and I think that was necessary to provide tax relief for our citizens.  I think that’s the balancing act that we have to do with our budget process.  We have to make sure we fund the needs of this community but that we don’t overwhelm the taxpayers so that they can’t afford to live here.


Marcia Joseph (D)-Challenger

: … Again, I’d like to hear from people what their needs are.  Then I’d talk to school principals.  I think it’s important to be connected with the schools.  The biggest portion of the budget is going to the schools.  I’m real excited that Ron Price is running for School Board in the Rivanna District….  I think that when elected I would form a relationship with Ron…

Allocation of tax dollars—that’s always something that people say is where’s the money going….  That’s another aspect [to] sitting down with staff… in conjunction with working with the School Board, you find out what’s going on and whether it is appropriate where they’re allocated.

Funding of new strategic initiatives—that may go back to your referendum question again…. People have talked about gasoline taxes.  They have talked about some sort of tax on very expensive homes…. That isn’t very popular in some areas and it’s popular in others, but the point is that I think there are people out there who do have some ideas that might work…



SCOTTSVILLE


Lindsay Dorrier (D)-Incumbent

: I favor some form of zero-based budgeting in which agency of local government has to justify its existence each year. Special scrutiny should go to new initiatives and new programs. I am willing to consider sunset laws or ordinances, in which each program has a cut-off time or year. Also, we need to review each program to eliminate duplication and to cut red tape.  Our government should be lean and courteous. Restrictions on local government operational expenses will be considered by the Board next year and in the future. Strategic planning has helped our budget process and I want to continue to use strategic planning in everything we do in Albemarle County.


Kevin Fletcher (I)-Challenger

: …Over the past eight years, our budget has grown by $140 million which also means our revenue has increased by that much… we need to possibly go back and [conduct] an audit of where the money is being spent.

…I’ve sat in on the process, you know, some and I think that the whole idea that we set a budget and then we start to, you know, whittle away from that…makes it very contentious, very argumentative and I think that we need to maybe change that…


Denny King (I)-Challenger

: I think the Board worked diligently on the creation of the budget… You can’t please all of the people all the time.  You have various departments and various entities of County government who are always asking we need more money…. I think it’s all about running the County as a business.  And also as a home…

…I think that this dialogue happens every 15 or 20 years and that is simply what services—City and County—could be combined and if so, how much money would be saved?…. I believe that it’s certainly worthy of exploration…

Another area that I feel has been neglected or not looked at carefully enough and those are the agricultural, forestry, horticulture tax credits on farms.  As I mentioned earlier, we have an abundance of faux farms in our County…. I’ve never seen soybeans or corn growing but yet I understand that these farms are getting tremendous favoritism in taxes by claiming agricultural use…. If somebody comes in and buys 500 acres or 100 acres or 30 acres and they’re going after agricultural tax credits and there is nothing there but fields looking like a golf course, that’s wrong and I think that that has to be policed a little bit more effectively…

I think that there are millions of dollars, millions of tax dollars out there that simply aren’t being collected…we could raise substantially the County’s revenue by policing some of the issues that simply fall into the cracks.



WHITE HALL


David Wyant (R)-Incumbent

: Our budgeting process… it’s keyed to our real estate and that’s an unfair tax.  I’ve looked at other localities… and how we could come up with a really fair tax.  Also, on the other side of it, there’s the expenditures.  Sitting on the CIP Oversight Committee the last year when I worked with the Oversight Committee, I got $39 million out of the CIP budget and I see us looking at being more efficient, more effective.

…In the past [we’ve] done value engineering…. We did it when we did the north fire station.  We reduced some funds in that.  I worked recently with the Stony Point Fire Company to reduce that down to be within budget…

I expect for our government to be effective and efficient and look at the possibility of where they can trim.  Our budget process… did not look at the past budget…. I would like to see that done.  I have asked for that to be done and that’ll be a requirement to changing the budget process.

The funding of new strategic initiatives—it would be maybe through bonds….  We have not taken advantage of it, but I have held that up for us to do the analysis…


Ann Mallek (D)-Challenger

: We need clarity in the budget process, with open meetings held in the evenings so that working people can attend, and a lot more information made available well in advance of meetings and decisions.…  We must decide what our communities and residents need, and then decide how to pay for it.  Last year the Board of Supervisors did it exactly backwards…. The result: needed firemen and policemen were not funded; needed classrooms, teachers and education programs were not funded; needed and long promised road improvements were not funded…

We need to look more carefully at local government operating expenses.  County personnel costs are going up each year, and to say that no changes are needed is a disservice to taxpayers.  It is vital that we return to one essential fact: the customers of the County are the taxpayers, not the developers who seek permits and zoning changes.  Yet, at a Development Review Task Force meeting, Mr. Boyd and Mr. Wyant described the developers as their customers.

Developers must provide professional, certified plans with their applications, and not rely on County staff to do their work for them….  Developers who want to meet with a supervisor one-on-one should pay for a clerk to take notes at the meeting, and those notes need to be made public….  Lack of transparency corrupts public confidence and our quality of life.

Kendall Singleton

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