Hanover County elected 7 Republicans to serve on the County Board of Supervisors in November, 2011. They took office in January 2012 and are making preparations for their second year.
So how are they doing?
Overall, the Hanover County Board of Supervisors is doing an amazing job. As you can imagine, this is one of those “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” jobs that most people try to avoid like the plague. If you try to save money by cutting back to avoid raising taxes, homeowners applaud and those using the services being cut attack.
What’s worse, they are often the same people!
“We want more free services and lower taxes!”
So it’s not hard to imagine that this is not going to be an easy job.
If only the BOS could print money like Washington.
But alas, they can’t.
The November, 2011 election brought a lot of new blood to the Board of Supervisors:
Canova Peterson represents the Mechanicsville District.
Angella Kelly-Wiecek represents Chickahominy.
Sean Davis serves Henry District.
And Wayne Hazzard represents South Anna.
These four join board veterans Aubrey “Bucky” Stanley (Beaverdam), Ed Via (Ashland) and Elton Wade (Cold Harbor).
One might assume that since all seven members are Republicans they would also be right of center, but the truth is, we have four solid Conservatives: Davis, Hazzard, Peterson and Via. Wade is just left of the center of the collective political spectrum of the Board and Kelly-Wiecek and Stanley represent the left wing of the board, left being relative, of course.
Led by the four Conservative members, the Hanover Board of Supervisors has, perhaps for the first time, started acting like the money they were spending actually belonged to the taxpayers. The members are learning that there is a delicate balance between cutting and squealing. No matter what you cut, or fail to increase expenditures on, someone will holler. The more wasteful the line item, the more loudly they seem to yell. Board members quickly learn what expenditures “belong” to which vocal advocates for the spending.
And Lord help you if you touch a penny that “belongs” to the schools. They act like there is no waste to be cut.
But these folks managed to do a remarkable job of holding the line on taxes and spending enough to make everything run smoothly.
But there is more that can be cut and still provide the services that the County is supposed to provide.
One vote that was a bit more high profile in 2012 was the decision to eliminate proffers developers are forced to provide to pay for the infrastructure necessary to provide services to the new houses they build.
During the building boom, these proffers were not really a big deal. Banks were loaning money hand over fist and many times a selling price was just the starting point for the bidding war.
But when times get tough like they are now, developers really take a chance building houses and subdivisions. The market is pretty tight and profit margins are already thin. Proffers may make the difference between a builder picking Hanover or deciding to go to another locality to build. Hanover was losing out on a lot of development because of these proffers. And while the tax revenue from proffers for one house might seem a sizable sum, it is far less than the revenue that would have been seen with the ones that got away.
It is very shortsighted to believe that proffers do any good.
On the surface, proffers sound like a fair deal. The builder makes money building and selling a house, so why not make the builder pay for the roads, schools and other infrastructure. But proffers are really just a “tax the rich” mentality. The new homes will be assessed real estate taxes just like the rest. They will buy from local markets, purchase gas and other items locally. They provide a lot of money to Hanover. And it makes no more sense to single out new residents than it would to only charge parents of school age children for the schools.
It is an unfair government intrusion into the housing market. And only a proponent of big government would think this a fair solution.
And the vote on this one was 4 – 2 to rid the county of proffers. The four Conservatives decided the outcome. Kelly-Wiecek and Stanley came down on the big government side.
During the year to come, we will be paying more attention to the Hanover BOS and we would hope the more liberal members will reevaluate their positions on bigger government and more spending vs. the rights of the citizens. 2013 will be the year that groups like the TEA Party will be assessing local candidates and deciding which ones need to be replaced when this term is over.
At this point, it looks like 2 or 3 may be voting their way out of office next time.