The elephant in the room in all of this is the handsome new multi-million-dollar animal shelter.

So Pittsylvania County’s reserve funds “are already being depleted,” says Supervisor Elton Blackstock, chairman of the board’s finance committee. He then adds, “We’ve got some financial issues.” (Danville Register & Bee, September 21, 2017)

This should come as no surprise to anyone who observed how the supervisors used the county’s reserve funds to pretend to “balance” a badly-out-of-kilter budget in the last cycle. A more prudent approach would have been to take the tough steps of paring our expenses to match our revenue. This is known as living within our means.

The specific issue currently attracting the spotlight is an emergency truck that cannot be operated until $116,000 is spent to bring it up to standards—more money than the supervisors want to take from what’s left of the reserve fund. Take note: when you’ve already spent a big chunk of your emergency reserve funds to make the budget balance, well guess what, the funds are no longer there when you need them.

The elephant in the room in all of this is the handsome new multi-million-dollar animal shelter.

While the county certainly needed to improve its animal shelter, many responsible taxpayers favored a slower and more modest approach—one that should have involved heavy-duty fund-raising on the front end. Instead, our supervisors turned to our reserve funds and rushed into buying this Cadillac of an animal shelter. We now face the complicated prospects of funding and operating it for decades to come.

We’ll be hearing from the piper soon enough. Unless the supervisors get a handle on things, such reckless fiscal shenanigans will lead straight to a county-wide tax increase. We must keep in mind that if we had cut costs and lived within our means—using every extra dime to pay off the horrendous school bond debt—we would not be facing the situation described by Mr. Blackstock.

And when innocent citizens look around for the supervisors who led us down this road–(mainly Brenda Bowman and Jessie Barksdale, both fine folks who served as chairman), they will be long gone to Lufkin–and they ain’t coming back. We need to encourage finance chairman Blackstock and the other supervisors, including the two newly elected ones in November, to make it a top priority to get the county operations in order without abusing the innocent citizens whose money they are spending.

By |2017-10-01T17:18:10-04:00October 1st, 2017|

About the Author:

Henry Hurt
A native of Southside Virginia lives in Chatham. In addition to having written dozens of hard-hitting stories for Reader's Digest Magazine, he is the author of two best-selling books: Reasonable Doubt: An Investigation into the Assassination of John F. Kennedy, and Shadrin: The Spy Who Never Came Back. His latest book, a collection of stories published in 2016, is The Road Not Taken. Formerly Editor-at-Large for Reader's Digest Magazine, Hurt was a Fellow at the Rockefeller Foundation and nominee for the Pulitzer Prize."