Letter – Surry unwise to add debt

Published 7:02 pm Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Editor, The Smithfield Times:

The Surry Board of Supervisors chair, Robert Elliott, has big dreams for our county; in addition to a bridge between James City County and Surry, he believes we need an aqua center, amphitheater and banquet hall. 

He has repeatedly provided his vision of how to raise our county out of decay and decline. His vision is like a Promised Land; if we build it, they will come. This year, the Surry County annual budget included $10 million of new debt to build this Promised Land. When citizens asked questions about the plans for this Promised Land, Mr. Elliott told us to have faith, that he knows what is best for our county. 

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How did the county arrive at $10 million? No plans or basis of estimate to support this figure were provided. In the budget workshops, none of the board members discussed the plans for placing this new debt of $10 million on the county books. The tax rate isn’t changing, so adding $10 million of new debt is of no concern. 

Citizens asked: How does this accounting work? How can you add $10 million and not raise taxes? How can we go into $10 million of new debt without a plan? What about addressing real issues we face every day: the inadequate county roads, shortage of housing and day care and lack of local medical care options?  

The Board of Supervisors and the county administrator ignored citizens’ questions and provided no responses. The budget, including the $10 million of new debt, passed by a slim margin of three approved (Elliott, Walter Hardy and Breyon Pierce) to two not approved (Amy Drewry and Timothy Calhoun).

Surry leaders need to realize that passing the budget with $10 million of new debt is a nightmare. It is real money and the taxpayers will bear the costs of this new debt for years to come. 

Our leaders need a dose of reality. We need leaders who are fiscally responsible and who recognize the criticality of their civic duty to implement properly planned projects for our county.


Dianne Cheek