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All the newly elected folks got sworn in last week. Now, they can be sworn at. Actually, I hope you don’t swear at them. Be sure to call them and e-mail them to share your thoughts on actions before the Board of Supervisors and School Board, but be sure to be polite and reasonable. These folks do pay attention to what people who call them or speak at public hearings have to say.
It will be interesting to see what these two elected bodies will do next year as both have a number of new faces.
I’m not sure what difference the three new faces on the school board will make. Both Richard Downey and Kelly Harmony ran unopposed with the blessing of the school board members they replaced. I anticipate that Downy will vote a lot like Joy Wright did, and Harmony will be much like Shirley McCabe.
Kevin Willis unseated an incumbent and I’m convinced that, philosophically speaking, he shares much in common with Harmony. We will have to see how well he does at persuading other school board members to go along with him. He certainly brings the sort of educational and professional background to the board that you would want, considering the budgetary nightmare the school board is facing next year.
The fact that the Board of Supervisors now has two new faces, both of whom won contested elections, may make a greater difference. It remains to be seen how Bill Thomasson and Tammy Parker will vote and the coming year will reveal whether any new voting block has emerged on that governing body.
My thought, at present, is that Thomasson and Parker are probably philosophically in tune with District 5 Supervisor Steve Arrington. I’m guessing that the three will probably vote together on most issues, which means that they will only have to persuade one other supervisor to go along with them on any issue and they carry the vote.
The School Board needs to keep this in mind as they develop the school budget for the 2012-2013 school year. Any budget that asks for the supervisors to provide the school division with more local money will be a tough sell if it takes a tax increase to fund it. That’s because Arrington is not going to support a tax hike of any kind for any reason and I bet that Thomasson and Parker feel the same way. I’ve noticed in the past that District 6 Supervisor Annie Pollard hasn’t looked favorably on tax hikes either because she knows so many people who are already getting squeezed by taxes on their homes. This means that school board members are going to need to bring some very sharp pencils with them when they come to their budget work sessions. The teachers union needs to keep this in mind, too. Bringing a couple of folks to a public hearing who will say that they want their taxes raised has even less chance of succeeding this year than it did in past years.
I also expect that the Planning Commission members who are currently unhappy with the Board of Supervisors will be even more unhappy with them next year. Arrington does not approve of zoning at all and I’m guessing that Thomasson and Parker don’t approve of it either. I have no doubt that the zoning ordinance, once the Board of Supervisors finish amending it next year, will be a lot less restrictive than it currently is.
All of this, however, is just a guess. The only thing we can be sure of is that this won’t remain a mystery for long as the coming year unfolds.
But that’s next year. For now, let me just say Merry Christmas and, to Dan Plattus, Happy Hannukah!