Don’t ‘fail the people of Buckingham’

Published 3:04 pm Tuesday, February 9, 2016

By Frank Howe

It continues to both amaze and sadden me that the tired arguments of finances and technology are used in an uninformed and selfish attempt to derail the construction of a new library in Buckingham County.

Yet Fillmer Hevener (“Advising against the library and debt,” Feb. 5) has once again asserted concerns about the new library that simply are not true. 

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Those who assert that electronic devices, such as tablets or smart phones, are a legitimate replacement for a community library are absolutely mistaken. Each time this absurd notion has been raised as an argument against the library, it has been thoroughly and thoughtfully refuted in public statements and in the press. To continue to propose such opposition means that either you are not paying attention or you simply don’t care.

Those who claim that Buckingham cannot afford the costs of a new library are also using absurd argumentation. In the presentation to the county board of supervisors at the October meeting, the current estimated cost of new construction was reported at $2 million. The debt service on that amount over the life of the loan is less than 2 cents per day per resident of our county. The operating costs of the proposed new library will be less than 2 percent of the overall county budget. The total current county debt service is less than 9 percent of our annual budget. Few households, businesses or governments can make such a claim. Our tax rate is among the lowest of all our surrounding counties.

Buckingham is in a sound financial position, and thanks to the good and professional efforts of our county administrator, we are one of the most fiscally responsible local governments in Virginia.

The library is a haven for all who seek to nurture the life of the mind. It is also a much-

needed community center where groups and organizations can meet and share ideas and interests. The library welcomes and informs and enriches all our citizens. It particularly helps those who cannot afford, on their own, the resources offered at the library. The poverty rate in our county is approximately 25 percent. This is well above the average for the entire state of Virginia, which is just under 15 percent. Even if one does not care about those living below the poverty line, it is to everyone’s benefit that such people succeed so that they can contribute, not just to their own well-being, but to the well-being and success of the county as a whole.

The new library is needed. It is absolutely a good thing for our county and it is absolutely time to build it.

If we citizens of Buckingham, and specifically if our board of supervisors, fails to proceed with the construction of our new library then we fail the people of Buckingham. If we do not build this new library then shame on us, shame on us, shame on all of us.

Frank Howe has lived in Buckingham County for over 35 years. He is a professor emeritus of Longwood University. His email address is