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Download 2017 "The Independents" detailing Marsha's positions on the issues!
Change does not come Easy!!
When Cindy Bailey and I ran for the board in 2013, we promised change and a citizen-based approach to local government. Upon our election, some things did change:
In short, barriers and obstacles were put in place to RESTRICT the changes we intended our election to achieve. The 2014 tax increase and $5 million budget deficit (2015) were passed WITHOUT our support and DESPITE our opposition.
- New rules were instituted (18 pages replaced ONE) that required chairman approval or a majority vote to get issues on the agenda.
- Committee appointments requested were ignored to restrict our participation.
- Our requests for information and accountability were pushed aside - the superintendent of schools even tried to charge over $700 for salary data and the incumbent BOS members would NOT support our right to have that information!
- When requests were answered to meet with volunteers to discuss operational problems, we were criticized as "unprofessional" and "micro-managing".
- We have tirelessly listened to and represented constituents' interests when they felt county administration was ignoring their concerns or overstepping their role(s). In many instances, we were able to work with a positive response from county personnel, however, our hands were tied if board action was necessary.
The 2015 election changed the make-up of the board, but not the intent of the long-time members to obstruct meaningful change. Nevertheless, we were able to begin to pursue the changes we addressed in our campaigns:
I ask for your continued support to bring responsible and responsive management to Shenandoah County and to avoid a return to the tax and spend habits of the past. I will continue to insist on accountability, transparency, and financial responsibility.
- We secured changes to the Tax Relief for the Elderly, increasing the income brackets, raising the maximum exemption from $750 to $1,000 (even though we would still like to see that maximum eliminated), and pushing the filing deadline from January 31 to March 1st. Our efforts to raise the amount that can be excluded from the net worth requirements from one to five acres is currently part of the proposed changes to the Shenandoah County statutes.
- We eliminated a "continuing resolution" that automatically applied up to $50,000 of tax dollars per year toward the purchase of development rights.
- We were able to get items on the agenda for discussion and brought forward the undeveloped and unused Keister Park tract and discovered the amounts invested by the county and restrictions on grants applied to the purchase.
- While we were not able to eliminate the Rt 11 Overlay Ordinance, it is now undergoing a major restructuring by the Planning Commission. At the 2017 public hearing on the proposed changes, a professional land-planning firm hired by an interested landowner supported our position regarding the unnecessary complexity of the ordinance. We are still hopeful to eliminate this bureaucratic restriction on economic development and its unnecessary cost.
- Although we unable to stop the 2016 tax increase, we were successful in limiting the amount of the increase to the lost income due to reassessment and the existing operating deficit. Attempts to expand government spending and raise taxes an additional 4 cents were thwarted.
- We avoided a tax increase in 2017 while allowing for increase costs of the Virginia Retirement System (county share of school pensions went from 14% to over 16%), increases in health insurance premiums, and an increased allocation for both school operations & capital Improvements and Fire and Rescue. Even with these increases, the use of the fund balance decreased to the lowest in the last 3 years - WITHOUT an increase in the tax rate - despite efforts by the incumbents to raise both taxes and spending.