Letter – ‘Balanced view’ on tax rate

Published 6:32 pm Tuesday, May 14, 2024

Editor, The Smithfield Times:

As social media roils with outrage regarding a potential county tax increase, it would be helpful to offer a more balanced view. 

First, it is my hope that before the Board of Supervisors and county officials ask for more revenue from the public, they are working to achieve real program and process “efficiencies” in county operations. There are a myriad of efficiency methods and techniques that can be employed to eliminate waste in all manner of service operations. The board sits at the intersection of ever-changing service requirements (both in scope and cost) and resources (taxes and fees). Having sat in a similar position as the Board of Supervisors many times over my working years, it was always incumbent upon me as a program manager to ensure I did everything in my power to get as much efficiency as I could out of my program before asking for more resources.

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Second, to the extent such actions are underway, it is my hope that the board and county officials will steadfastly inform the public of such efforts to allay the unbridled public outrage about taxes. It is also my hope that citizens will uphold their responsibility to be informed of such efforts to ensure a more constructive public debate. Only then can we have a rational discussion about the necessary investments in our community and the resources necessary to sustain them.

This debate drips with irony (if not hypocrisy): On one hand, citizens rant about tax increases, and on the other hand, they go to another forum (say the School Board) and complain about the quality of education. The two issues are inseparable! Citizens can’t have quality services (education, or emergency response) without necessary resources. 

Lastly, I want to recognize the difficult work supervisors must endure: hard decisions (informed by researched facts) in the face of public opinion that is more often shaped by blind orthodoxy than objective analysis. I salute the supervisors for their service. One social media poster complained that “we keep electing new supervisors, and they keep messing with taxes.” If that is the recurring pattern, it can only mean one of two things: (1) the people we have entrusted with these decisions are struggling with a very complex problem, or (2) no citizen in Isle of Wight is competent to serve on the Board of Supervisors. My faith in people tells me it is surely the former.


Michael B. Stanton