Letter to the Editor: Public input crucial in shaping county’s future
As our county works through the current budget cycle, I wanted to bring to your attention a few key dates and why they are important in the budget process.
At 1 p.m. March 21 at the Shenandoah County Government Center in Woodstock, our elected officials on the Board of Supervisors will vote to set a Fiscal Year 2018 budget and tax rate for advertisement to the public. This is a scheduled work session that the public is invited to attend. Once established and advertised, a public hearing will be held for citizens to voice their concerns as they pertain to the budget. Once that is completed, the Board of Supervisors will adopt a final budget and tax rate for FY2018. The tax rate, by law, cannot be raised higher than the advertised rate without holding another public hearing. It can only be lowered as voted on by the Board of Supervisors, meaning that regardless of constituent input at the public hearing on April 6, funding for FY2018 will be limited by the predetermined tax rate decision made on March 21.
This year, the public hearing on FY2018 Proposed Budget and Tax Rate is set for 7 p.m. April 6 at W. W. Robinson Elementary School in Woodstock. While it is imperative to attend and participate in the democracy of the scheduled public hearing, it is absolutely critical for concerned citizens to contact the Board of Supervisors prior to the scheduled work session on March 21 to contribute their input to the budget process before finite decisions are made.
In the absence of diversified revenue streams, setting a tax rate that adequately covers the operational and capital improvement expenses necessary to successfully and safely operate the basic functions of our county services, including educating our children and providing life-saving emergency services, is of greatest importance. If left ignored or inadequately funded there will be lasting consequences for the well-being and safety of our citizens. The public’s input is crucial in helping shape the future of Shenandoah County.
Katie Freakley, District 4 School Board member