PE Voters Will Be Outraged

Published 4:26 pm Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Editor, The Herald:

The time is drawing near for the Board of Supervisors to vote on the construction of a water treatment plant that will cost the citizens of our county nearly 30 million dollars. When complete, it will provide drinking water to (maybe) the towns of Burkeville and Crewe in Nottoway County, the Manor resort (which may or may not ever exist), and (maybe) Hampden-Sydney College. The citizens of our county, who will be required to pay for this enormous project, are for the most part notably absent from the list of beneficiaries. The Town of Farmville, whose water crisis a few years ago was the catalyst for the current project, is also left out.

To be fair, the impetus for this very expensive project did not come from our Board. It came, in my opinion, from an engineering firm and a construction company. There was no competitive bidding, so nobody knows if the price quoted by the two companies is the best that might have been obtained. The board also plans to structure the financing (read: borrowing) of this project so that a public referendum cannot be held. In other words, a group of eight people will decide whether or not the citizens of Prince Edward County will be compelled to pay for a water treatment plant that will not benefit them, or their children, or their grandchildren, yet may raise their property taxes as much as 40 percent.

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If we assume that elected officials are put in place to look out for the best interests of the voters who elected them, then it makes sense that, considering the size of a project such as the water treatment plant, those officials would wish to know how the voters felt about it. In this instance, our Board has done little to inform the voters, having held no open meetings where questions could be asked and answered. The County Administrator has said that there would be such meetings before the vote, but to date no such meetings have been held.

It is hard to know what is in the minds of those supervisors who support this project, but it is not hard to imagine the mood of the citizens of this county when they learn, too late, that they will endure huge property tax increases due to the actions of a few public officials. These outraged voters will be left with no recourse but to take their anger to the ballot box, and the result, hopefully, will be a board that will understand that wisdom and judgment may be found among the citizenry as well as within their panel.

John Jamieson

Prince Edward