Proposed Southampton County tax increase disappointing

Published 4:33 pm Monday, April 18, 2011

I was disappointed, shocked and appalled by the news that the Southampton County Board of Supervisors has proposed a tax increase.

I had assumed that they understood the hard times we are experiencing due to the economy. We are in an extremely soft housing market. Fuel prices are high. International Paper closed. It is amazing that our county government can be so out of touch with reality to think that a tax increase is appropriate or palatable.

The actions by the county that have resulted in savings, due to tighter control of what goes into our dumpsters, is to be applauded. However, it’s a mere “drop in the bucket.”

More cost-saving measures need to be implemented across the board. A If the county wishes to raise taxes by a mere 2 to 3 percent, then instead, it shouldn’t be that hard for each department to find 2 to 3 percent savings that would negate the need for a tax increase.

Some examples could be:

• Energy costs—Implement cost-saving initiatives that would utilize cost effective methods, such as energy efficient lighting.

• Fuel savings—Keep county vehicle mileage to a minimum. Insure the engines are in tip-top energy efficient condition when they are on the road.

• Transportation costs—Maintain our current inventory of motor vehicles longer.

• Labor costs—Implement forced furloughs for one to two days a month for all employees.

There are many opportunities for cost savings. I’m sure that the citizens of this county can add many other ideas. A lot of small savings adds up to bigger savings. If brainpower could be expended to cut spending, instead of maintaining the status quo, taxes could probably be cut.

Our Board of Supervisors is exactly that — ours. We, the taxpayers voted for the current board to represent our interests. If they do not represent our interests, then they are not truly ours; therefore, they should be replaced by the voters. I do not think a tax increase represents our interests.

The citizens of Southampton County, the citizens of Virginia, the citizens of the United States of America cannot tolerate higher taxes. We need to see the government at all levels cut back as those of us in the private sector have been forced to do.

I do not begrudge county employees a pay-raise, but when was the last time any of us had a pay increase? These are hard times for many. Most of us are forced to do more with less. Many of us are doing less with less. I suggest that our elected officials look for more innovative ways to do the same.

Richard Harris