County should focus on essential services

Published 10:07 am Wednesday, November 1, 2017

To the Editor:

As the daughter and wife of former Supervisors and as a retired agency head, I have tried to maintain silence for many, many years. I can no longer contain my acute disappointment in the decisions being made or contemplated by our elected officials.

• Taxes & Debt: Southampton County relies on a rather limited tax base. I do not believe that the funds available to our citizens have increased to where they are equal to, let alone exceed, the cost of living and increased taxes. Tax increases have become the norm and seem to accelerate each year. The county will take on more massive debt with the courthouse.

• Access: Already, most Southampton citizens are being asked to travel further to Franklin for all building permit and building code enforcement services and most will have to travel longer distances to the proposed courthouse if we proceed with that plan. Some have to pay others to transport them often at high rates, but all have increased costs in time, gas, etc. Yet, access to services does not appear to factor very heavily in the decision making of our Supervisors, if at all.

• Essential Services: I may be alone, but I view library services as essential. It is my understanding that from the 2012-13 budget cycle to the present, Southampton County reduced its formula-driven contribution by $30,138. That funding was never restored. Because of that, our library operates on a 35-hour week.

We used to be very conservative, striving to provide the best essential services and to consider the well being of all our citizens. The thinking that “it is only a little bit per person or it has worthwhile aspects” is, in my opinion, part of how Washington got where it is today. What has happened to us? Is there now a total disregard for the fiscal mess we are in to the point that we would even give the slightest consideration to a subsidy for golf (on the heels of a huge tax increase) that would benefit a few and, if granted, probably continue forever? If you have to consider subsidizing something to keep it, the red flag should have been very visible.

Golf and the country club are not essential services. The majority of the people spoke recently on the golf course issue were opposed to its funding; however, the majority of Supervisors did not listen. It is rather ironic that the funding granted to the country club almost exactly equals what was taken away from the library!

I feel we are off track. We need to confine ourselves to providing quality, essential and accessible services that serve all county residents equally.

Jane Maddrey