Sunday, June 12, 2011

Thinking Independently in Augusta County

Four Contenders for Board Offer Fresh Vision

Supervisor Tracy Pyles led the drive to respond to citizen concerns about property assessments, often acting alone as the 'conscience' of the BOS...

There is already much press about the 'Tea Party' and its effect on the way things are done in government. Some see it as a negative force, but they need to take a close look at what's happening in Augusta County.

Augusta County provides a wonderful example of just such a scenario. A while back the sitting board of supervisors pretty much rubber-stamped a skewed appraisal of property values. They accepted the new, higher valuations without much question. Tax rates, they said, could be adjusted after the fact.

The problem came when the 'suddenly' more prosperous county saw the formula for allocating State revenues now worked against them. Schools and public safety functions were suddenly strapped for funds as the return of collected tax revenues dropped based on the county's 'jump' in prosperity -- at least on paper.

One lone supervisor, Tracy Pyles of Pastures District, did the math BEFORE the vote. He became the 'conscience' of the board as he attempted to bring the realities of the situation to light. He proposed a motion to return to the more realistic valuations that were in place before the mass appraisals. Only one other supervisor joined him in voting for the rollback.

This November County residents will have the opportunity to elect three more candidates who share Pyles' vision of honest representative government. David Karaffa, Dr. Kurt Michael and Dr. Marshall Pattie are all running in separate districts, and they all want to talk about substantive issues. Together with Pyles they are hosting a townhall meeting this Wednesday, June 15, 7:00pm at the Verona Government Center. The meeting is the first of a series designed to inform citizens and bring them into the process of responsible government.

Citizens are encouraged to come out and hear the candidates' vision for themselves. My feeling is that the mainstream media will largely miss the historic nature of this gathering. You will need to be there in person.

...he is joined this election cycle by a bipartisan group of candidates who share his vision.

SWAC Girl Reports on the Meeting [click to read].
The News Leader Reports on the Meeting [click to read].
WHSV TV Reports on the Meeting [click to read].
NBC 29 Reports on the Meeting [click to read].

Putting America Back to Work [click to read].
Here's some historical perspective that supports the vision put forth by Tracy Pyles for economic development. Says Pyles: "We're not competing against Staunton and Waynesboro... we're competing with the world."

Econonic Development: "As the DuPont Plant continued to grow, so did Waynesboro... Waynesboro grew by 27 percent in the 1950's to reach a population of 15,694 by 1960. Medium income in 1959 was $6154 and 17 percent had incomes over $10,000. Waynesboro was a manufacturing town with 5,817 people directly employed in manufacturing. Over half of those jobs were at DuPont." [1.]

Tracy Pyles referenced the interest by Toyota in building a plant in Augusta County. The plant would have most likely created the same sort of opportunty that DuPont did in the 1960's.

1. A Short History of the Waynesboro DuPont Plant [click to read] by Ashley E. Stanley


Whit said...

Bob- Returning to the 2005 reassessments would have grossly undervalued property in the County. That would have been the worst outcome. At any rate, these new folks will find out just how hard it is to assess 60,000 properties to please everyone if they win their seats. The new assessment will start in 6 months or less regardless of who's on the board.

Bob K. said...

So, am I to understand that grossly OVERVALUING property (as happened in the 2005 assessments) is fine?

It really isn't that hard to assess 60,000 properties if you use a broad brush. I asked several times for the worksheet for my property, as Virginia statute allows me to, and was basically told that there was none.