Give board a better balance

For a solid 10 years Albemarle County has been recovering from a recession that left scars. Budgets shrank, positions were frozen and other actions were taken in 2009.

We have come from tough times to flush times. Albemarle County announced budget surpluses of $8 million for the fiscal year ending in June 2016 and $14 million for fiscal year 2017, and currently predicts a $6 million surplus for the year just ended.

In May, the supervisors unanimously passed a resolution to spend up to $91.8 million in expenses for its five-year Capital Improvements Plan. This month, the news is that an estimated 4.6 cent rise in the real estate tax rate would be needed to pay for a narrowed list of projects amounting to $55 million over five years. Soon, then, the tax rate will be 90 cents per $100 of assessed value, up from 75 cents per $100 just 10 years ago.

Is this how you run your household budget? In my career as a financial advisor, I encouraged families to pay down their debts and increase their equity. When times are good, it can be a big, painful mistake to spend on a long list of perceived needs, especially when the annual revenues exceed regular annual costs by a wide margin.

Recent surpluses represent revenue that the board could have used to pay off more debt, to return fully to taxpayers in the form of tax increases, or to boost rainy days savings balances in expectation of another economic downturn (our 250-year-old Republic has had a steady, long list of economic downturns).

Please join me in voting for candidates next month who are not all one party. By having change at the supervisor level, there is a good chance for a different philosophical perspective at budget meetings.

Each of the Republican candidates espouses a conservative perspective, not a progressive one. Each Republican is a fiscal conservative, not another of the present crowd with a “spend when we can” attitude.

John C. Lowry

Albemarle County

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