Letter to the Editor: We can’t keep giving money away

Published 5:00 pm Saturday, December 23, 2023

Dear Editor, 

I grow tired of politicians who just think they have an infinite piggy bank, filled with neverending taxpayer money. Your story about the sales tax highlights this pretty clear. 

Last year, the supervisors went and hired a lobbying firm, to try and get a sales tax bill passed. Ok, that makes sense. You want to try everything possible, in order to get that approved by the state. But we failed, again. Despite this grand lobbying firm taking our money, the bill didn’t even get out of committee. Well, heck, we didn’t need to spend $5,000 a month to make that happen. We could have saved the money and got the same result. 

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So here’s my issue: what good did the firm do? We spent thousands of dollars and have nothing to show for it. The state folks say it was because a larger bill, with a similar intent for all counties in Virginia, was deemed the priority, only to fail as well. And now it seems that statewide bill has been filed a second time. So what assurances do we have that this time, the firm will contribute to success?

Here’s what I’m afraid is going to happen. I’m afraid the bill for Prince Edward’s sales tax increase will make it out of committee and then die in the House or Senate. Then, the county staff will come back next year and say ‘see? We’re making progress. Now yes, it still failed but we got closer, so we clearly have to pay the firm once again.’ And over and over it’ll go, as this firm is just the latest group to latch on to county taxpayer dollars. Also, please forgive me but we’re supposed to feel better because the firm worked with the Piedmont Regional Jail? The same jail where two federal inmates escaped, one of which fled all the way down to Mexico? 

Look, I know the school renovations need to happen. No one is arguing against that at all. I would even say most of us acknowledge that a sales tax makes the most sense as the way to fund those renovations. But we can’t just keep giving out money over and over to every group that promises to help make that happen. At some point, we have to start requiring results before continuing to pay. 

Paul Xavier 

Prince Edward