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October 5, 2017

Posted 2017-10-05

    The coming election is about limited-government conservation (candidates Cindy Bailey, Karen Kwiatkowski and Marsha Shruntz) versus big-spending-high-taxing liberalism (candidates Karl Roulston, Dick Neese and Dennis Morris). The candidates running offer two very different perspectives in each of three districts that have seats up for election. Even if you do not live in one of these districts the vote will change the type of government you have and the amount of taxes you pay. It all boils down to wisely using available tax revenues to provide the level of service that can be sustained by the tax base without gouging the taxpayers.

    I have attended many board of supervisors meetings this year. Two issues deserve mention: teachers’ pay and benefits, and county fire and rescue services. Certainly, these issues will come before the board again after the election.

    The school board claims two problems: 1) the declining ability to hire good teachers, explaining they do not want to hire the teachers no one else wants, and 2) that many children attending school in the county are poor, hungry and abused.

    Morris, Roulston and to some extent Neese support the position that any across-the-board pay raise for the teachers will correct these problems. How does that work? What amount of money paid to teachers will solve problems that arise due to inadequate family income and decreased support from home for some of our children? In fact, raising property taxes countywide will have a negative effect on our poor families because everyone pays real estate taxes directly or indirectly through the price of good and services. Higher taxes and teacher pay will certainly not improve the economic situations of our distressed families.

    I support supervisors Bailey and Shruntz as they seem more in line with my belief that the pay for teachers must be in line with the economic status of the people they serve. Pay alone is not the only indicator of a community’s regard and support for its teachers. Pay must be weighted considering the cost of living in an area. It is not appropriate to compare pay from one community to another without factoring in other economic components such as cost of living, housing, fuel, labor, etc.

    Clearly, a dollar goes much further in Shenandoah County than it does in the surrounding counties. Many may choose to drive a distance to a job and incur other costs, however, those decisions do not change the cost of living here not give grounds to raise salaries locally. Also, the burden of funding medical care and retirement in the public sector needs to be considered with respect to the financial ability of the citizens to pay.

    We need new solutions to our school problems. If our children can’t be educated well with $62 million then it’s time to start looking at other solutions that bring choice and motivation to the classroom.

    Regarding fire and rescue: People who choose to live in a rural community should not expect city-type levels of service. If they desire such an increased level of service, perhaps it would be best to set up special tax districts to better serve their desires. If the county begins to pay for more and more extended services to outlying areas, then volunteerism will decline and the financial burden will forever be laid at the feet of the broader community. This again will affect the poor adversely.

    Dennis Morris was a supervisor for 38 years. He could not fix the problems with a tax and spend attitude then and his good-old-boy politics of the past cannot solve our problems now. Backed by big money interests and tax and spend proponents, Karl Roulston already has a full-time big-city job. In keeping with that perspective, he is more likely to favor an expanded government and is likely to have little time for the serious work of local government. He wants big city services and will not be sensitive to the tax pressures on county residents. Roulston claims that more money may not help our ailing schools. But can we really trust that statement when he has been so vocal against the conservative block of county supervisors?

    Can we really afford the tired and expensive liberal solutions proposed by Morris, Neese and Roulston — throw more money at a problem and it will get better? Therefore, I urge you to vote and/or get out the vote to re-elect supervisors Bailey and Shruntz and elect \ Kwiatkowski. They are proven conservatives pledged to be tight-fisted with the people’s money.

Stephen Curtis, DVM