July 7, 2007

Outraged: part whatever!

There are times when I wish I wasn't quite so prescient. No, not because the thugs in Vegas threatened me about my predictions in the Independence Day event but because sometimes I predict that bad things will happen. When those predictions come true I feel that I didn't do enough to help.
I'm outraged that Don Smith would rather provide political theater than good government to Southern Shores.
Mayor Smith didn't vote to adopt the budget last year and my bet is he won't support the budget this year. He will leave the heavy lifting to the rest of his board. Good budgeting makes for good government but good budgeting is hard work. It's a lot easier to be outraged.

Yeah that's pretty much what happened in Southern Shores this budget season. Actually it only begins to describe the scene. The board struggled for nearly 2 months with the Manager's recommended budget. A budget that called for a tax hike. A budget that is $200,000 smaller than last year's budget. At the public hearing the board heard from a number of taxpayers who called for the board to raise taxes to maintain the service levels. In particular the board was struggling with funding the popular chipping program. This program helps residents dispose of yard waste (tree limbs and brush) in an environmentally sound method. Without it residents either have to stuff the wood in their trash (illegal and impractical) or use private contractors to haul the waste away (expensive). The public wanted the service but the board couldn't keep it without a tax increase.
After a number of workshops the board voted 3-2 to raise taxes. Mayor Smith voted against the increase and then did something even more outrageous. He call publicly for voters to throw out the majority of his board that voted for the increase.
The Coastland Times reports that
He [Mayor Smith] pointed out that the three council members who supported the tax increase are facing reelection this year and issued a call for recruits to replace them "Please join me" he said, "and make November 6th, 2007 our town's second Independence Day when we take back our town from these tax and waste politicians."

Gutsy stuff. Great theater. Bad Government. The ineffective leader lashes out at the people he has to work with for the next several months. That always makes for a good working environment (NOT). Here's another prediction, only one of the three incumbents will seek reelection. Nobody needs the kind of abuse that Mayor Smith makes his board endure. Remember that these commissioners voted for the increase knowing they had to face the voters, do you really think they would have voted for it if they didn't believe it was necessary? The one incumbent who files will win and be joined by 2 inexperienced commissioners. By next year revenues will have increased enough to hold the line on taxes, if the board doesn't try to implement a Capital Improvements Plan. The manager recommends a tax neutral budget and Smith calls for a tax cut. Same battle, same rhetoric. Smith doesn't get the stage if he works with the majority of the board, he only gets the spotlight when he can be the Lone Ranger. He will argue against long range planning for the facility needs of his town and he may win. If he does that bill will get bigger and more expensive and the needs will grow until they can't be ignored anymore. The big losers in all this are the residents and property owners of Southern Shores they deserve much better. They ought to be outraged.

Noted: Don Smith's call for candidates isn't the only sign that filing for municipal elections are drawing near. Kill Devil Hills Mayor Ray Sturza announced his intention to seek reelection. I have been told that former Mayor Sherry Rollason plans to run against Sturza, setting up a battle between 2 strong forces in KDH politics. They are smart leaders and I have worked with both over the years. I think a great deal of both. Expect Sturza's role as a County employee to be an important issue. I can't call this one yet but it will be interesting.
Filing opened yesterday and continues until July 20th at noon.


At 6:22 PM, Blogger Ronnie said...

Great post. I am sure the Mayor of Southern Shores will have no problem getting support from the three he threw under the bus. Somebody give that guy a Dale Carnegie book.


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