The sizzling you hear is our bacon in the fire

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 29, 2005

The gang of four on council has changed forever the course of our city by their vote this past Wednesday to allow the city to take over road maintenance from Virginia Department of Transportation.

We will rue the day that this bad decision was made, especially at this time.

The reason that this will be fully recognized very soon as a bad decision is that we as a community have been deceived about the objectives of this plan.

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While some on council may be naive enough to believe there will not be new taxes and further spending, it is clear that the real plan is just about to be brought forth very soon.

With a dysfunctional city administration, the fracturing of the city council is only endemic of a much larger problem.

This problem can only be laid at the feet of city management, due to how they operate or rather fail to properly function as professionals to serve the needs of the people.

The objectives in this issue and many others, seem to serve a very narrow need defined to support the well connected "downtowners" and developers, that have interests that translate into the stated goals of city management's view that Suffolk is about two miles around City Hall.

With such myopic views of our community and an inclination to ignore the rest of us, except when sending out ever rising tax assessments, we have trouble in Peanut City…

With the limited and factitious victory by city management concerning the VDOT issue, it is clear that they will be emboldened with fresh vigor to push the single-minded vision of spending and more taxes.

As every other community grapples with the issue of significantly rising taxes, our leadership has chosen to put their head in the sand and charge even more.

With absolutely little if any regard for the effect this has on our stable resident population, those who do not wish to sell their home and farms for profit it is clear that change must happen sooner rather than later. With nothing less than propaganda flowing freely from city management that, the sky will fall if new spending does not grow by over 12 percent this year.

Such rubbish is clearly evident by the fact that the city manager's budget spends every cent they can get and more through borrowing.

The reason that Virginia Code, or law of the land, requires a public hearing when the assessments grow by over one percent, is that any reasonable person can clearly see that it is a tax increase!

For the city administration to state that they are "holding the line on taxes by not raising the mil-rate this year," is both deceptive and dishonest.

The actual level of taxes flowing to City Hall is rising at unheard of levels.

Real estate taxes are what most hear of, but sales taxes, business taxes, food taxes, restaurant taxes, telecommunication taxes, and every other tax levied by the local government is rising faster than our ability to pay.

To insure that there is a relative understanding of our pain, it is imperative that no senior city staff be given a raise greater than the rate of inflation, like most of us.

Perhaps this will sensitize these people to the effect that they demand all of us to suffer by their policies…

The city manager's understanding of a balanced budget is to grab as much as you can get, then you are obligated to spend it all to balance the budget.

As these and other disturbing issues grow in the administration of our city, it is clear that the only real fix to this unprecedented situation demands a new paradigm.

It is abundantly clear that the present management can't or will not rise to the occasion for the leadership we dearly need.

When their mode of operation is to continually push bad ideas at any cost, we have got to demand significant change.

The issue that must be dealt with first however, is that as long as the populace is quiet and passive concerning what is going on downtown, the status quo will not be changed.

As such, it is imperative that you take charge of your own destiny and become involved in the processes of government.

With the present failed levels of city administration, the only method to accrue any accountability, is too directly demand it from city council.

If you do not ring-in to voice your displeasure with these policies and actions, you can expect more of the same.

With the loss of the VDOT road maintenance issue lost to the city manager's special interests, do you also plan to also lose the issue on your tax assessments?

If you are happy as some "downtowners" stated with more spending under the proposed budget, sit-back and you will get even more of the past mistakes we call local governance here in Suffolk.

If however you wish to support some measure of change, grab your phone and call a council member or even better go and see your representative.

To do any less insures that we will suffer even worse public policy disguised as our local government.

Roger Leonard is a Suffolk businessman and regular News-Herald columnist. He can be reached at