IOW supervisor expects tough budget process

Published 9:14 am Friday, March 1, 2013

To the Editor:

As the upcoming budget process kicks into gear across the Commonwealth amongst town councils, city councils, boards of supervisors and the like, I thought it advantageous to share a few thoughts as we here in Isle of Wight embark on a similar journey.

Though every year is challenging, this year is particularly so.

On the expense side, we are dealing with ever-increasing federal and state mandates, increasing debt payments and inflation. On the revenue side, as we speak, sequestration is looming, which affects federal funding to mandated school programs, social services and other services required by law.

The burden will be passed to local governments to pick up the funding in order to meet federal law.

I believe our board is well aware of the nature of taxation on its citizenry, both as individuals and countywide. We are aware of the diminishing paycheck being returned to county residents and the sacrifices that families are forced to make as a result.

Like the county, your fuel bills are rising, your insurance costs are escalating and it is costing more annually to feed a family of four.

That being said, I believe we as a board will do all we can to meet our required obligations while asking you to make no more sacrifices than are necessary. We will look at all programs, services and expenditures and bring to bear the question of what is absolutely necessary.

We will ask the fundamental question of what are the essential roles of local government. What should Isle of Wight be providing its citizenry, realizing that every service comes at a cost?

What areas are essential to the quality of life we have so long enjoyed in our county? What services are paying for themselves through the revenue they generate?

What areas are very good to have but not necessary in difficult budgetary circumstances? There should be no sacred cows. Everything should be on the table.

I firmly believe our board is committed to just such questions as we look for answers. Before us is a long agenda of budget meetings with departments, staff and citizenry. Looming ahead is June 30, at which time we, as required by law, must have a balanced budget.

From now until then, the task will be difficult, daunting and perhaps somewhat contentious. I do not begin to suggest we have all the answers, but we will endeavor to keep you informed as the process evolves. If nothing else, it should prove interesting.

I believe I speak for the board in saying we are all privileged to represent such a wonderful county. Thank you for what you do in making it such a place. I never truly realized it before serving in this position.

Rex Alphin
Isle of Wight County Supervisor
Carrsville District