On public participation

Published 10:37 am Tuesday, April 25, 2017

During the April 18 joint public hearing for the fiscal year (FY) 2017-18 county and school budgets in Prince Edward, there was no public comment offered.

Following this, the first thought that came to mind as a purveyor of information — particularly county government information — was either that I am doing a poor job of informing the public or County Administrator Wade Bartlett and the county’s board of supervisors are doing a good job at fulfilling a majority of their constituents’ needs and wants.

Lockett District Supervisor and Board Chairman Robert M. “Bobby” Jones cited the hearing was the first where no public comment was offered on the budgets in the past 16 years.

Perhaps it’s not a surprise that this was the case.

The proposed budget includes no tax or fee increases and is working to close the gap between the school’s request and recommended funds from county supervisors.

I commend the board for developing a budget that seemingly meets a majority of constituents’ needs as depicted by the hearing. 

This year’s hearing came in contrast to a hearing last year for the FY 2016-17 budgets where 19 students, teachers, parents and citizens spoke in support of the division’s request for $752,402 in additional local funds.

I would also note that it would behoove citizens in the future to stand up and speak if there’s something that they don’t agree with.

Free speech is something this country was founded on — a freedom that American improvement has consistently been built upon and that we still fight for more than 200 years after our formation.

Not exercising your rights is like having a gym membership you’ve paid for but aren’t using.

Someone’s paying for that right, and whether that’s you or someone else, it’s important to take advantage of what’s at hand instead of letting it go to waste.

MORGAN WHITE is a staff writer for The Farmville Herald and Farmville Newsmedia LLC. His email address is Morgan.White@FarmvilleHerald.com.