On Tuesday, Roanoke County’s Board of Supervisors passed the 2017-2018 budget.This budget exposes two major issues with the Current Roanoke County Board. The board’s choice of fiscal policy has resulted in the loss of services county residents depend on. Equally troubling, it appears members of the board have engaged in misinformation about the county’s financial plans to gain a political advantage in the June 13 primary.
The Board’s addiction to borrowing money has resulted in 8 to 10 million dollars per year in interest that is given to bankers rather than used to take care of the county’s responsibilities. For example, there is up to a ten year waiting list in Roanoke County for much needed repairs to roadways and other areas with drainage, flooding and storm water run-off issues. The only obstacle preventing timely fixes is funding. A fraction of the millions spent on the interest could have resolved these issues.
A proactive approach of planning to address foreseeable county needs without going into debt is the best way to ensure there is funding for the services county residents depend on. Over 150 million dollars has been paid in interest since Joe McNamara was first elected to the Board, imagine the progress we could have made if that money had been spent on the county rather than bankers.
After 3 years of boasting from members of the board about reducing the county’s debt by 29 million dollars, those same supervisors voted to increase the debt by almost double that amount bringing the county’s debt to over $200,000,000.
Campaigning on debt reduction while planning to explode the debt after this year’s election is the kind of politics we expect from politicians in Washington DC, not our elected officials in Roanoke County.
To make matters worse, the Board has borrowed millions more that does not get accounted for as part of the county debt, but instead is hidden in governing “authorities”. While the practice is “perfectly legal” and “acceptable accounting”, the truth is that it is deceitful and is a deliberate attempt to hide the ongoing lack of fiscal responsibility this board of supervisors is guilty of. Honest, accountable government should not operate in this manner. Roanoke County’s Citizens deserve better.