Monday, March 13, 2017

Gloucester County, Virginia FY 2018 Budget Process; Get Involved!!

Image result for chuck thompson gloucester va. library photos
The Gloucester Board of Supervisors has now started contemplating how they will allow our local government to spend your tax dollars next year. The County Administrator is recommending a one and a half cent real estate tax increase which is the amount of increase the BOS approved last year. If the BOS follow the Administrator’s recommendation, the real estate tax rate will increase from to 69.5 to 71 cents per $100 of assessed value.

There is a small minority of people in Gloucester who, for one personal cause or another, want the real estate tax rate to increase significantly. Like I have many times in the past; I suggest those folks donate as much as they want to their causes and passions, but leave the rest of us out of it. The typical response to my suggestion is something along the lines of them not trusting that their donated money will be used for their cause. What sense does that make?

The majority of people in Gloucester do not want real estate taxes increased at all. I am one of those folks and believe there should be no further tax increases until our local government makes all money matters completely transparent to the public, eliminates all unnecessary spending, consolidates services with our school system, eliminates redundant and unnecessary services and establishes a detailed plan that quantifies and addresses our numerous and neglected infrastructure needs.

Over the last several years there have been efforts by a handful of us to encourage the BOS to put in place measures and policies that will enhance transparency in our local government. When the current BOS evolved through the addition of three board members who are up for reelection this November, they appeared to take significant steps towards making the County’s financial matters more open to the people. After a little over three years, the steps that were initially made have mostly been erased and we are now left with abandoned efforts and broken promises.

During the BOS budget deliberations last year; I pointed out several things our local government spends money on that are a complete waste of tax dollars. The most ludicrous of these expenditures is the amount of tax dollars they throw away on renting our public library and local health department spaces. In my opinion; the rental agreement for the courthouse library and health department space was created as an unethical backdoor funding mechanism to financially empower the Main Street Gloucester Preservation Trust. The taxpayers of Gloucester have and continue to be forced to provide money to this “not for profit” non-government organization that has taken control of the courthouse area of the county and the current BOS treats them just as good as prior boards did. The logical thing to do is close the Hayes library until a building can be purchased or built to replace it. All money currently budgeted to that library should be placed in a separate account to go towards buying our way out of the current lease agreement and towards building or buying the necessary library space. Money should be borrowed to build a new main library on the property where Page Middle School is located and to build new health department space in the Gloucester business park where Sentara and the free clinic are located. The Commonwealth rents the health department space from Gloucester County, so those rent payments will ultimately pay to build the building and will eventually turn into a revenue stream. All tolled our local government is throwing away in the neighborhood of a half million dollars annually by not owning our own library and health department spaces.

I also pointed out that almost a half million dollars is being wasted yearly on the community education department. Instead of breaking up this department and returning all of its functions to the school system, social services, information technology and county administration departments; our local government doubled down by giving the director a nice raise and by changing the name of the department to the department of community engagement. This department pays multiple people to manage community use of our public school facilities. Each one of these people receives a salary and benefits that are paid for with tax dollars. I suggested having each school’s administration office re-assume these responsibilities utilizing current school system employees and teachers. Even if we need to pay a few employees and teachers a little more money to perform this function after school, we will still save a significant amount on salaries and benefits by not having the extra employees. Social Services is the governmental department that is supposed to provide assistance to those in the community who are in need. The community engagement department facilitates and supports various non-profit, non-government organizations that should be supported and facilitated by our local social services department. If someone is in need, social services should be the one stop place to go to connect with available government and community resources. There was no need to create a special department to do this. Community engagement also responds to Freedom of Information Act requests for information and publishes the Beehive and the Weekly Town Crier. These functions and all other media and public affairs type functions should become a joint effort between county administration and information technology. There is no need to pay a director over $100,000 plus benefits yearly to manage these functions.

Gloucester’s animal control department spends most of its time patrolling the roads throughout the county. Last year I suggested ending the patrolling and turning animal control into a strictly reactionary department. If someone has a concern about an animal issue they will call. We certainly do not need to be paying employees to visit the public beach under the bridge and the York River Yacht Haven pool at Gloucester Point multiple times a day; or to hang out and shoot the breeze in various local stores. I also suggested routing all animal control dispatch calls through the Sheriff’s department and to limit the number of full time animal control employees to two. These changes should result in significant tax dollar savings and improve animal control’s relationship with the overall community.

These are just a few examples of the unnecessary and costly ways our local government frivolously spends our tax dollars. Consolidating county and school system functions is another way that Gloucester can significantly cut costs and enhance service. We will soon share what our BOS and School Board have done about consolidation over the last three years.

We have provided other information pertaining to Gloucester’s lease agreements, budget and real estate tax rates at the end of this article. Be sure to check it all out.

We encourage all Gloucester residents, landowners and business owners to actively follow our elected and employed local government representatives and administrators, and hold them accountable for their actions. Remember, all levels of government work for We The People.

Let us know what you think and share your comments and Gloucester government related stories by emailing us at or by posting remarks on the Facebook post that led you here.

Kenneth E. Hogge, Sr.
Gloucester Point, Virginia
Helping To Drain The Swamp

The following are current real estate tax rates:
Gloucester……….69.5 cents per $100 of assessed value
Mathews…………54 cents per $100 of assessed value
New Kent………..83 cents per $100 of assessed value
West Point………72 cents per $100 of assessed value
York……………..75.15 cents per $100.00 of assessed value
Williamsburg…….57 cents per $100 of assessed value
Newport News…..1 dollar and 22 cents per $100 of assessed value
Hampton………...1 dollar and 24 cents per $100 of assessed value

Gloucester’s Proposed FY18 Budget Presentation:

Gloucester’s FY 2017 Budget:
View this slide share to see Gloucester’s library, health department and other lease agreements: 

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