Letter – Misleading headline?

Published 5:09 pm Tuesday, May 7, 2024

Editor, The Smithfield Times:

Mr. Stephen Faleski wrote a very informative article concerning the proposed Surry County budget (“No tax increases in proposed Surry County budget,” April 17), but I believe the title of his article is misleading in that it makes the casual reader think the Surry board is sympathetic to citizens’ concerns.

I, too, am pleased my tax rate remains the same. However, the county is going to take out an additional $10 million in debt to pay for a swimming pool, amphitheater and banquet hall operated by the county’s Parks and Recreation Department. 

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Why not $10 million to repurpose a school building into a trade school to teach our children a trade with which they would be able to earn a living? Our school system has been losing students for several years now. Why? Overall, academic grades are not great. Why not offer classes in auto mechanics, one of the building trades, practical nursing, etc.? We know all students are not college material, so why not give them something by which they can earn a living? With a good basic knowledge of a trade, the upside is they might be encouraged to make Surry County their permanent home, buy or build their homes here, raise their families here and pay their taxes here. Is that not what most of us would like? 

This board needs to understand that while a swimming pool is a nice thing to have, it will not keep our young people in the county. They need a means of supporting themselves and their families. 

Or, why not $10 million to build a decent-sized senior citizen center where they would have space to take part in some light but beneficial exercises, take part in some creative crafts, or do some mind-engaging projects? These people for the most part have raised their families here, have paid their taxes here, have contributed to their churches and their communities, but now they are being shuffled around like used furniture. Our elderly citizens deserve better.

Last but not least, you say your plan calls for $32.6 million in planned one-time expenditures through 2029. We are currently carrying $23.2 million in tax-supported debt. What kind of fantasy world is this board living in? Our grandchildren and great-grandchildren will be paying for this grandiose budget! 


Helen Eggleston