Conservative Viewpoints

"Government is not the solution…it is the problem" -Ronald Reagan

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Is Dowdy’s referendum manipulative?

Posted by Stephen on July 26, 2007

Speculation regarding the possible success or failure of city council’s decision to put up to ten items from the CIP on a referendum to be voted on by citizens is running rampant. While it is a fair question to ask, the cynical side says it is a manipulative way to slide unpopular projects in the back door at the tax payer’s expense.

City leaders are elected to make decisions not pass the buck. In this case all five members have conceded an inability to come together and address needs versus luxuries, and a plan for successful completion of all 17 projects listed on the CIP.

A plan put forth that calls for a systematic and fiscally responsible spread sheet with a time table to complete projects and fund them is not the enemy to success. However, indecision and a lack of commitment and leadership by city leaders is.

Now the citizens are forced to compromise principles in order to approve the items important to them or vote not to move forward on any through bonds or tax hikes. The choice could potentially split the city much the same way the majority has enjoyed splitting people on the Wayne Theatre issue.

Then again, the one million dollars spent on the Wayne Theatre would go a long way in addressing some of the CIP projects on this referendum. The majority on council is doing what they can to divert the people’s attention from what amounts to poor management, poor judgment, and reckless use of tax payer money to the emotional argument that the people need to address the ten remaining items on the CIP that they did not vote on.

Among those items exists new tennis courts and ball field lights for Ridgeview Park; the second phase of downtown streetscape; a west-end fire station; storm-water upgrades to the city’s eight hardest-hit neighborhoods; property for a future central site for the Department of Public Works; upgrades to the Rosenwald Community Center; repairs to the downtown mall; and starting work on a sidewalk/crosswalk installation plan.

Waynesboro’s News Virginian reported that those projects, which carry an estimated cost of close to $6 million, were all excluded from Monday’s bond issue. Though $700,000 was approved to buy land for the second fire station, any decision to construct the facility was postponed.

At the end of the day the winner was Tom Reynolds, Nancy Dowdy, and Lorie Smith who realize that a split city welcomes opportunity for them to secure just enough pockets of support to get a referendum passed. If they can’t they have a built in campaign message that they let the people decide.

Ultimately, it is a cop out. The elected officials of Waynesboro owe it to the citizens of this community to be committed, beyond the election rhetoric that we have all heard before, to commit to a well planned approach to funding, through surplus funds and economic growth, the majority of Capital Improvements that are not fundamental to government, while addressing tax revenues and bonds to complete core projects that address the quality of life of all citizens of this community.

Stephen Winslow is the executive editor of Conservative Viewpoints.


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