It's a crying shame it took a major recession to put an end to the Dare County Commissioners' reckless spending ways. In an article in today's Virginian Pilot, county manager, Bobby Outten says, "...there's no more low hanging fruit...".
During the past ten years Dare County has reaped big revenues and spent like no other time in the history of the Outer Banks. As one Pilot reader said... "imagine the quality of services, the open inlet if they had not blown it on their nouveau riche tacky governmental/justice centers(so much for small government)and over sized, over designed, over budget school buildings. Now we get to pay interest on those bonds, heat and cool those mammoths instead of having at least a healthy rainy day fund.."
And, just this week the Dare County Board of Education says it needs an extra $2 million this year in order to avoid laying off teachers and cutting educational programs. And county employees, who may have been receiving some excessive fringe benefits, have had most of them snatched out from under them, coupled with no pay raises in over three years. And, today, the percentage of the county's undesignated fund balance (a savings account) is the lowest its ever been.
And, if image means anything, last year three of the seven commissioners admitted to double dipping expense monies from the county coffers and, as quietly as they possibly could, returned money to the county. Did it do the taxpayers any good? It's unlikely. At last week's commissioners' meeting, Commissioner Richard Johnson, who was caught living lavishly off his county travel account said, "if we travel any more (to seek help for the fishermen), it'll probably end up in some newspaper or on some blog".
Finally, as proof the commissioners don't want to let the taxpayers have a seat at the budget table, they have scheduled a "proposed budget hearing" (required by law, after the budget is completed) at their next meeting; only to have a "budget workshop" AFTER THE HEARING.
Meanwhile the price of gasoline continues to rise, and our new "overvalued property tax assessments" will be in the mail next January. Thank goodness, some of the board will be up for re-election right after that.