Proposed Two-Cent Tax Hike Faces Uncertain Future

The Clarke County Board of Supervisors took a step closer to a 3.2% increase in County real estate rates on Tuesday evening. But the final decision on whether or not to implement the tax hike seems far from certain. The proposed 2-cent tax rate increase would bring Clarke County’s real estate rate to $0.64 per one hundred dollars of assessed value.

At last night’s budget work session three Supervisors expressed reservations about a tax hike given the generally weak economy as well uncertainties associated with the General Assembly’s still unresolved budget and its revenue impacts for Clarke County.

“Our revenues from the Commonwealth still aren’t in concrete, correct?” asked Supervisor Barbara Byrd. “That means the figures that were voting on aren’t solid and things could change.”

Part of the concern expressed by Byrd revolves around how the General Assembly will ultimately chose to implement tax changes designed to correct the underfunded Virginia Retirement System (VRS). The General Assembly’s yet-undecided-approach, along with other possible last minute changes to education funding, could necessitate a second look at Clarke County’s budget approach once the final revenue contributions are established.

Joint Administrative Services director Tom Judge said that the County’s approach so far has been to plan for the potential state budget changes in a way that allows the Supervisors the flexibility to implement any necessary corresponding changes into Clarke’s local budget.

Judge said that other nearby jurisdictions have taken a similar approach which is driven by the need to establish local tax rates, employee salaries and other budget priorities.

Byrd also questioned the impact of the tax increase on a hypothetical family earning $30K and living in a $250K home and the effect of the proposed two percent salary increase on the same family’s earnings if employed by the County.

Judge responded that the 2-cent real estate tax increase would mean a $50 annual increase in real estate taxes on a $250K home. The salary increase would amount to $600, although an additional $50 would be removed thanks to the proposed VRS “switcheroo” tax adjustment as Judge called it.

The proposed 3.2% tax increase is part of the Supervisor’s effort to plug a $607K deficit in this year’s proposed County budget. But while the deficit represents a large chunk of missing revenue, part of the amount may be easier to cover than it would seem at first glance.

Supervisor John Staelin (Millwood) said that because fifty-percent of the roughly $430K tax revenue increase will be collected in fiscal year 2012, the new funds can still be used to offset the carryover from this year’s deficit. Staelin also added that normal end-of-year carryover contributions from Clarke County Public Schools and other County departments often can be user to reduce the deficit figure in a subsequent fiscal year.

But Supervisors David Weiss (Buckmarsh) and Bev McKay (White Post) appeared to be in agreement with Byrd that a tax increase is not the right thing for the County at this time.

“If the majority of both Boards [School Board and Supervisors] believe that a two-percent pay increase is appropriate then I guess that’s fine,” Weiss said. “But perhaps we should be looking for equivalent reductions in other operating funds to offset the pay increase. I’m simply suggesting that that might be another way of looking at this.”

Weiss said that he appreciated the impacts that further cuts would cause but that prioritization of County spending would make the pay raise more defensible from his point of view.

“I still have core reservations about a pay raise that I’ve mentioned before,” Weiss said. “I don’t feel like I’m out-there somewhere on this or that I’m waving a ‘no-tax’ banner. My core concern is that this tax increase will be seen as an increase to fund a raise.”

Supervisor McKay echoed Weiss saying that he felt like more cost cutting was needed.

“This is a hard economy in which to discuss a tax raise,” McKay said. “I’m sympathetic that county employees haven’t had a raise, but this is a tough economy and I have mixed emotions. Somewhere there have to be more cuts that we can make.”

McKay cited his understanding that Clarke Schools had extra buses that were being leased to Frederick County.

“I thought that last year we were leasing our school buses to Frederick County?” McKay asked. “Why do we have extra buses?” Neither staff nor the one Clarke County School Board member present for the discussion could verify McKay’s question with certainty related to a leasing agreement with another county.

Supervisor Byrd added “How many people are there in the private sector that have gotten raises in the last four years?”

Supervisor Staelin attempted to counter some of the sentiment against a pay raise.

“It’s been four years since our employees have had a raise,” Staelin said. “After the VRS adjustment the raise will only be 1.4% and I think that a raise is due for County and School employees.”

Supervisor Chairman Michael Hobert (Berryville), who along with Staelin serves on the County finance committee responsible for developing the budget proposal, said that because much of the budget cost increases are being mandated by decisions in Richmond and are therefore out of the County’s control, any additional cuts would likely come in the form of staff reductions.

“We tried to address the County’s real needs where they exist and made cuts where we had to,” Hobert said of the budget development process. “The result is a deficit budget that will have to be covered from our fund balances if the economy doesn’t improve. We’re trying to address the County’s needs in as a responsible manner as we can.”

Although the Supervisors did agree to advertise the April 11 budget public hearing with a 2-cent rate increase, several Supervisors appeared to agree to the proposed rate knowing that they retain the authority to approve a lower tax rate increase, or no tax increase at all.

“I don’t know if I can support this budget,” said Barbara Byrd “especially if we don’t have all of the final revenue numbers from Richmond.

View Clarke County’s proposed FY13 budget here: Clarke County Proposed FY13 Budget

Comments

  1. Byrd, Weiss, and McKay need to become more acquainted with the real-life corporate world, or at least stop insulting our intelligence.

    One, is $30k per year really a reasonable reflection of household income in the county and/or school/county employee wages? Two… seriously… you had to ask someone to do the math on this?

    Next… the “how many people in private sector have gotten raises…”. Ms. Byrd, how many private sector employees/employers do you actually know or speak to? Raises across the board – I’m sure it varies. Do companies have flexibility in what they pay applicants or employees? Absolutely. They will pay what it takes to acquire the services of the best candidates they can get.

    Lastly, the “more cuts to be found” broken record. Those three have just demonstrated their total lack of touch with coorporate reality. Those companies who wished to remain viable and who are competing in today’s marketplace learned 5 years ago that you cannot “cut” yourself into prosperity. You need revenue. This is true even in the nonprofit marketplace. But you’re still looking to bleed everything until it’s value as a public service is so diminshed that it’s laughable. Face it… if you say that you don’t want a tax increase, then you are “anti-tax”… banner waiver or not.

    Your sources of revenue as a county are taxes for crying out loud. It’s well known that increased residential development doesn’t pay for itself, so your resources for additional tax revenue are meals tax, corporate tax, and commercial development. Where’s the leadership in communicating to your constituents a well thought out plan to move forward in those areas? Seriously… you can’t come up with a compromise method of taxing businesses that closes the gap vs. what other localities charge (a flat fee akin to registering a car with the DMV vs. a gross sales model)? Why… because you’re afraid you’ll offend someone and drive them away? To where… everywhere else will charge them more! Or is it a math skills issue as exhibited by Ms. Byrd’s need for a county employee to do a 4th grade calculation for her? Real life example of reaping what you sow with bargain basement educational funding?

    Fear of excellence. Nice motto.

  2. In the midst of so much erroneous information floating around, it is time for a few facts.

    The $30,000/year teacher is a myth.

    The pay scale shows (on the school website) that the starting BASE salary for a bottom-of-the-scale brand new teacher is $36,575, and if he/she has a Masters Degree it is $42,825. Approx. 54% of the division’s teachers have Masters Degrees (+$6,250). This is not including benefits, and is for a 10 month contract, not a 12 month contract.

    The average per capita income in Clarke County is $34,630 (U.S. Census website Quick Facts).

    Every year, I do the complete schools payroll at end-September (source: JAS payroll), taking a 53 page document and itemizing the individual salary and total compensation for all school employees into a 10 page spreadsheet. You will see below a table of teachers compensation for the current school year, where I have averaged the actual salaries and benefits for K-5, 6-8 and 9-12 teachers currently in the system (as of end-September 2011).

    Teacher  Category     Base Salary Benefits Total Compensation
    K-5  (41% w/Masters) 44,199 14,407 58,570
    6-8 (61% w/Masters)   48,417 15,246 63,663
    9-12 (64% w/Masters) 47,287 14,760 62,049

    Benefits include: Health Insurance, Life Insurance, VRS Retirement, VRS Retirees Health Credit, Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid. The cost of these benefits is due to increase substantially for the FY13 school year (see the many articles about VRS and the budget).

    The ones who really need help, and a pay increase, are the considerably less well-paid 49 Instructional Assistants, whose average salary is only $14,980 and total compensation only $23,568. Even the custodians do better, with an average salary of $21,763.

    Anyone who would like to see the full payroll spreadsheet is welcome to request it by e-mail to robina5@verizon.net.

    Robina

    • Thanks Robina

    • Tony Parrott says:

      Robina,
      Not sure how we started out with a $30K per year teacher salary; I thought Barbra was talking about a $30K per year family income that owns a house worth $250K. That equates to a mortgage increase of $4.17 a month. Not sure how a family of say four would be able to afford a $250K home.
      As for comparing teacher salaries to the per capita income; that’s a little misleading. Per capita income is ALL sources of income divided by the total county population. As you see below (VACOP) misreads this as he believe teachers and law enforcement should be happy making just above per capita.
      I agree with you 100% that instructional assistants need help. It begs the question though; four years on the school board how many times did you fight for a pay increase for IA’s?

      • Tony Parrott says:

        To answer my own question; I believe once.

      • Tony –

        You are wrong.

        First of all, per capita income is just that. The individual income of county residents. And I took the $30k number from HST’s comment above.

        The first year of our budget, the board increased IAs salaries by 10% – the second year, I fought for it, but was vetoed by other board members.

        Not having seen you at any of those meetings at all, you are ill-placed to know what was or was not discussed at any of our finance committee and SB budget meetings.

        As you can’t fight the facts, you always try to deflect with a little personal attack.

        Robina

        • Tony Parrott says:

          Robina,
          Honestly I wasn’t trying to offend you (sorry if i did) but simply asking a question that I thought you could answer. Maybe you could also direct me to the specific meeting minutes where you made that motion as I like to verify all information I’m given when I can and as you pointed out I wasn’t present.

          I still disagree with you on per capita income as a tool when comparing county employee wages. Per capita is a tool to compare Clarke to other counties or Virginia to other states and USA to other countries. It would only be a “true” reflection of individual income if everyone in the population had a job.
          To drive this point home on why I believe per capita income is not a bench mark for setting employee salaries:
          Example
          Two teachers making $45K each live in a house with two kids. Each of them is making more than the $34K county average per capita but the household per capita is $22.5K. In order to reach the per capita income of $34K the same family of four would have to have a household income of $136K. I’m sure you can see how using per capita income could skew some ones view when discussing employee salaries.

          Ironically we agree on IA’s needing help, yet still we are beating the hell out of each other over it. Well at least you and I aren’t afraid to use our name when making comments. That says something about both of us.

          With Kindest Regards,
          Tony

          • Mr Mister says:

            running for office a couple of times and losing every time should tell you that we don’t believe in your views.

  3. virginiacop says:

    Thank you Robina. Once again it will come down to emotion v facts and it is nice to know at least someone has their facts straight. Teachers, deputies and cops have it good and should be thankful.

  4. Springs-B says:

    Per capita income in Clarke County is $34,630.
    K-5 (41% w/Masters) 44,199 14,407 58,570
    6-8 (61% w/Masters) 48,417 15,246 63,663
    9-12 (64% w/Masters) 47,287 14,760 62,049
    Sounds to me the teachers in Clarke are doing very well at more than $10,000 a year above per capita for the county they work in.
    I work in the private sector and have not seen a raise in years because of the economy yet the county wants me to pay more in taxes to give others raises that are making already above average salaries and get summers off, I get 1 week (40 hours) a year. I personally know some teachers and I know they are doing well financially and quite enjoy their summers off to spend with their kids, take long vacations or pick up extra work adding to their already above average incomes. It is irresponsible for the school board and the BOS to want to raise taxes while the private sector is not seeing pay increases, not even cost of living increases. I myself make less and less each year because of rising health care costs, rising fuel costs and higher taxes. Rather than raising taxes on home owners in the county the county should be working harder to attract new businesses to the county. I have a hard enough time paying my car tax and just barely making the mortgage payment every month without another tax increase. The county also has my house assessed at a much higher value than I can ever sell my house for and my car is valued by the county far and above what my car is worth.
    My retirement is through my 401K at work, my employer puts in the bare minimum. I pay for my own retirement plan as should county employees.
    Over the past 3 years I have also needed to cut back my contribution to my own retirement (401K account) to make up for higher fuel costs and health care costs.
    The BOS can go ahead and raise my taxes but I will continue to drive old beater cars so I pay less in personal property taxes. I will also fight the county’s assessed value of my home and dispute the value of my car every chance I get. SO go ahead and raise my taxes because you cannot get blood from a rock this resident of Clarke County just doesn’t have any more blood to bleed… I don’t even have a savings to tap into for emergencies.
    Taxing the already struggling residents of Clarke County is the easy way out of the financial difficulties the BOS and the Schools are having. It’s the cowards way out of a mess you all have created. The BOS needs to attract new business to the county, you have failed to do this in the past and you are failing now. Making the County residents pay for your failures is irresponsible, cruel, lazy and cowardly.
    It’s time to [redacted] stop wasting money and do something productive. BE PROACTIVE NOT REACTIVE…..

    • Dmaxnjackson says:

      Sorry spring, you should pick a different profession, and own a house you can afford every month.

  5. Median value of owner-occupied housing units, 2006-2010 $366,900

    Households, 2006-2010 5,535 2,974,481

    Per capita money income in past 12 months (2010 dollars) 2006-2010 $34,630

    Median household income 2006-2010 $73,244

    Someone explain to me how a person with per capita income of $34,600 have a $366.900 dollar house?

    fuzzy math????

    • Some rent.

    • The average household size in this county (according to the 2010 census) is 2.5. Multiply that number by the per capita rate and you end up with an average household income of $86,575.

  6. Thank you Byrd, Weiss, and McKay.

  7. Blossom Butt says:

    I guess my big problem is….most of the working world has not had a raise in a few years because of the economy. Even companies that are still doing well are using the economy as a crutch to deny pay raises. Most teachers in this county make more than I do, and I have to drive over the mountain to work. I don’t get decent health insurance, retirement, etc. How are those of us making less than the teachers supposed to pay more to give them a raise? I understand you work hard, I understand you deserve a raise….but, so do most of the people who’s children you teach. We deserve one too, but there is no one to tax to fund our raise so I feel now is the wrong time to ask us to fund yours. I will pay more taxes for programs that are needed in the school, but not for raises.

  8. Ask yourself if you live in Clarke County….are we getting a good product and good value from our local government?? I would argue NO.

    Yet…we are being asked now to provide even more money for their retirement and a raise…wake up people.

    I would entertain a raise if we could consolidate the Town and County and get rid of all the duplication and government waste.

  9. clarke conservative says:

    On the high end teachers make $64,000 a year in salary and benefits. Yet it costs the tax payer $10,000 per year to educate a child and there are on average 25+ kids in each classroom. This adds up to a ‘per classroom cost’ of $250,000. My question is – How is the other $186,000 per classroom cost allocated?

    Seems to me if we are going to reduce costs, I would concentrate on reducing those ancillary costs. It looks to me like the school system is too top heavy, probably too many administrators.

  10. Uncle Jessie says:

    50K salary, health insurance, week off at Christmas, week off at Springbreak, 2 months off during the summer, on top of that a PENSION waiting for you when you retire. Sign me up!

    • WHY THE ATTACKS ON TEACHERS??? says:

      You obviously do not know or live with a teacher.

      You are on stage all day long. Most work in evenings and weekends. Report card time is awful. Every comment for every student has to be different. They have to answer every nitpicking email from parents. Summers they take classes to keep up certification or else they are trying to get over burnout. By the time they make retirement there is not much left mentally or physically. They burn out. Teachers see awful family situations. The list goes on. Elementary teachers have the toughest jobs. You would not last a day!

      On top of that ignorant comments like the ones in this forum make you feel completely unappreciated.

      I am grateful for teachers but do not recommend any of my kids from entering that profession after dealing with several teachers currently in our family.

      • Another View says:

        Lots of professionals work evenings and weekends. Lots of professionals are buried in paperwork. Lots of professionals suffer from stress and work demands.

        Teachers are not so special that they deserve extra and different treatment. The people who are paying the teacher salaries are hurting; ergo, the teachers should understand that now is not the time for more money in raises.

        • supportn Clarke says:

          I would agree, but for the fact that teachers (sadly) are not being treated as the professionals they are. By your very statement it is obvious you join in the short-sighted view that educators are public servants whose careers are free to balance on the whim of our elected officials and public sentiment.

          To those of you who have dedicated your lives to educating our children – and are obviously not in it for monetary gain, THANK YOU! And know that you ARE making a difference in Clarke’s future, one child at at time.

          • supportn Clarke…

            I would have to disagree with your sentiment regarding teachers being treated as professionals. I would argue that by and large the teachers in Clarke are supported by the parents and are highly respected.

            The reality is, teachers are public servants and are paid by public dollars (taxpayers) and by virtue of that arrangement the elected officials have a fiduciary duty to manage the school system. How can it be any other way?

            Unfortunately, public education became a function of government long ago and is a broken and dysfunctional system ( not the teachers, but the system).

          • Clarke Life says:

            I am confused? Are teachers exempt from paying their bills like everyone else? You make it sound as if they are suppossed to just go with the flow when their bills are increasing just like everyone else’s. Problem is they just cannot go add a few more cows to the farm and offset the increases like the population that is Clarke County! CC is becoming the embarassment of Virginia.

        • Why the Attacks says:

          Please notice my response did not say anything about money. Instead my response was due to Uncle Jesse and countless others attacks on the fact that teachers have it easy and it is a breeze. My premises is that most of the negative attacks on teachers are unjust.

          I am not advocating for or against raises in my comment just more respect.

          Positive compliments go a long ways to making teachers happy. Instead it all seems negative attacks.

      • Clarke County Annie says:

        I don’t believe anyone is attacking the teachers personally. Most are just saying they feel the rate they are being paid along with their insurance and retirement is decent.

        No matter what job anyone has, at one time or another, most employees find they are; unappreciated, underpaid and feel that no one else could do that job like they do. We all take on the jobs we want or think that we would like, just to find, it has conditions or circumstances that have to be dealt with whether we like it or not. As individuals, we can find another position if its too much to bear. However, in this economy many realize- new choices are few.

        I appreciate teachers very much. Could I do that job? Don’t want it…its not my “thing”. Just like I couldn’t be a police officer, semi truck driver, wastewater operator, bank teller, etc. Are they all content with their job? I’m sure they also have complaints about their positions.

        I feel the exception is that everyone in Clarke Co. will have to dig deeper, cut out another item from their own budget to pay for the increase. That’s what makes it personal. If it was to pay for a different item, that item would be issue.

    • A Real Inside View says:

      Uncle Jessie-My wife has been teaching for 5 years with a masters degree and doesn’t make 50K nice try!!!…She has been working with children since she was 18 so TONS of experience too… She is in debt $40,000.00 of school loans to get that masters degree…AND those breaks you chirp about, are filled with lesson plans, parent contacts, grading papers and even some years in some counties-teaching summer school…OH and that wonderful PENSION you rave about is a retirement that is proposed being cut…sure you want to sign up for that??? I would advise you get to know some teachers personally and you will be changing your tune. Those days off become work days for teachers and don’t forget that 40K is a salary..no OT getting paid. If you actually divided the money by the hours she spent in a year..YOU WOULD BE AMAZED! Believe me she loves her job and she is an extremely hard worker- but Uncle Jessie, by the way you speak above, buddy…sorry but you have no clue.

      • A Real Inside View…

        As mentioned elsewhere on this forum, working outside of normal working hours (weekends, nights) is pretty much the norm these days for plenty of professions, I don’t see any reason to exclude the teaching profession.

  11. Bottom line – we need to diversify the tax base. How long will raising the taxes on us work? How much do the large landowners contribute to the overall tax picture? I’m not being smart, I’m really interested… What’s so horrible about responsible growth?

    • lifelongresident says:

      I own a house in town and get hit twice on taxes, so I understand the burden. However, I also understand the larger landowners do all of us a favor by keeping the land open. They actually save you money due to a reduced service requirement on the land that they own. They pay taxes on their land just like everyone else (although the rates may very depending on use). Most times they pay a much larger total tax bill than the average residential landowner. Remember their homes, buildings, personal property, etc are taxed at the same rate as everyone else.

      The important part to this equation remains simply – open land does not require services, cows and trees require no schools, limited emergency services (fire possibly but not rescue), no large infrastructure demands, etc. Residential growth = increased service requirements = equal higher costs and taxes. Many, many studies have proven that growth does not equal prosperity. You can’t get large scale commercial growth without giving huge proffers and tax waivers, then many times the companies leave or fold before they have returned their expected tax windfall. Just look to the east. Encourage small business growth in the county and shop local, ask Richmond to be fair, keep land open and you would be surprised how much this can improve the all of our tax situations.

      • lifelongresident:

        First – it’s a fallacy to say that landowners are saving us money…if they were taxed appropriately (closer to the actual value rather than “use value) we wouldn’t see a major influx of building any more so then is possible currently…all of the DUR’s are set, the county graciously handed them out to landowners back in 1978 I believe.

        Second – They don’t pay taxes on their land like everyone else. If you look at taxes paid over the past 10 years on open space, forest, etc. you’ll find that those taxes have actually gone down while at the same time taxes for everybody else has gone up. There are 100 acre parcels in the county with several available DUR’s which pay less than $100/year in tax. Now, what happens when that land is sold for $1M+….the landowner was able to avoid taxes for many years and then still sell the property at market value and garner a large profit. I would argue the land should be taxed at the sale and the tax difference paid, since at that point “use value” no longer is relevant….exact market value is now known!

        • Dirk my friend, you need to step away from the computer and do a little fact checking before your next rant against the “haves” in the County.

          I recommend contacting the commissioner of the revenue’s office, or your local BoS representative who can explain some things to you – not the least of which being that the rate of taxation for properties in land-use has actually increased over the span you cite in your post. And they can also explain the (not so) complex reasons why property with development potential that remains undeveloped does reduce your tax burden.

          Secondly, you need to gain an understanding of the give and take involved with Clarke’s unique comprehensive plan and zoning. When set up, landowners were essentially told that the development potential of their property was being reduced dramatically when compared to surrounding counties. It could be argued that this was a devaluation of their asset. In turn, the reasonable thing to do was to tax the property at a rate that is applicable for it’s “use” (residential vs. other). Land use taxation is common throughout the region.

          Thirdly, yes they do pay taxes on their land like everyone else does. It’s commonly accepted planning/zoning practice to say that a residential land use covers up to about 2 acres of any given property. So, let’s say you and I both own a house worth $400,000 but yours sits on 1/2 and acre and mine sits on 2 acres. Who do you suppose has the higher tax bill? Then let’s assume I have 30 head of cattle on the balance of my property – should I be paying the rate for my residence based on what that land us being used for? No. But I’m still paying more taxes than you are, period.

          You need to prove your “100 acre parcels with remaining dur’s paying less than $100/yr in tax” assertion. I don’t believe it for a second. But even if your far-fetched example were true the County is still going to reap a one-time influx of tax revenue… surely you’ve heard of roll-back taxes, yes? Wait… probably not. While you’re at the CoR’s office getting up to speed on reality you might want to ask about that too.

          • HST: I do have my facts straight…go down to the county and pull the tax records it’s there for you to see. You are incorrect, I have the data and my facts straight…I’m not surprised by your disbelief, I agree it is hard to believe but I can provide the parcel numbers if you’d like. Furthermore, were not just talking about a few “far-fetched” examples, we’re talking about 100’s of properties.

            You are factually incorrect in your statement:
            “But even if your far-fetched example were true the County is still going to reap a one-time influx of tax revenue… surely you’ve heard of roll-back taxes, yes?”

            The answer is no…go look at the data and you’ll see very little roll-back taxes have been paid on a percentage basis. When someone sells property that is in “land-use” the buyer simply keeps the property in land use and no roll-back taxes are paid. Furthermore, it is very easy to keep property in land use due to the lack of oversight and simplicity of putting property in land use.

            I’ll answer another one of your statements:
            “Then let’s assume I have 30 head of cattle on the balance of my property – should I be paying the rate for my residence based on what that land us being used for?”

            I would agree you should only pay taxes on the “use value” if you agree when the time comes to sell your property, you sell it at “use value” rather then “market value”. Otherwise, how about you gross up the tax difference at the time of sale, obviously at that point the “use value” is meaningless since a true value would be established. I can guess what your answer will be.

      • Another View says:

        If everyone left the County, would we all be doing everyone a favor, as there would only be cows and trees remaining? No services or taxes needed . . . NIRVANA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

        • My 2 Cents says:

          Thats what the Rich Farmers want anyway…. As long as they can produce some Dairy Cows to pay their bills, [redacted] about the rest of the people here…….
          [redacted]

          • really?... says:

            Dairy cows to pay their bills?! Really?Usually you won’t find a dairy farmer getting rich from milking. Do you think that dairy farm might be keeping a tradition alive? Or that it’s the one giving you that dairy product you like so much? What? You’d rather build more buildings and then have your dairy product shipped in ‘fresh ‘ from China?

  12. The Apple says:

    No one ever says that doctors make too much. No one ever says that engineers make too much. Even if I were to believe the “number crunching” posted here, who cares? I swear, Clarke is the only place where everybody has their own set of facts.

    What does the benefits chart have to do with take home pay? They still have to pay to go to the doctor. I don’t know any teachers who are living “large”. And why don’t those number crunchers research how many Clarke teachers actually live in Clarke? I would be interested to know.

    Why are we so snarky about teachers here? Where is the respect? None of you would last a week in a teacher’s job. All you can talk about is how much time they get off, blah blah, blah. So, they shouldn’t get a higher salary because they get this time off? Because you all “perceive” that they have a “sweet” deal, they shouldn’t get a raise? That’s dumb.

    As for the raises, teachers are paid by years of experience. They don’t get to walk into the principal’s office and negotiate a raise for themselves. It’s all or nothing.

    No one wants higher taxes, but how else will the quality of our schools be maintained? How else will they keep teachers?

    • Do we have a problem keeping them now? I don’t believe there is a max exodus, in fact I believe our attrition rate is in line with other similar districts across the nation.

      Don’t you think those who decide to pursue a career in teaching are aware of the pay scale? I would argue most teachers, just like people in many other careers, choose for themselves to pursue that career because it makes sense for them. Money is not the only factor when deciding how we would like to earn a living…vacation, job security, benefits, working hours and other factors all come into play.

      I don’t begrudge them for wanting more money…aren’t we all underpaid. The reality is, right now, the economy is bad, people are hurting everywhere and if you look at the whole package I would argue that the teachers have it pretty good compared to the private sector.

  13. Another View says:

    We should abolish the public schools, and parents should be responsible for attending to their children’s education needs.

    This would require an adjustment in the Virginia Constitution, but that is manageable. More parental involvement, more choices, lower costs–it is the perfect solution.

    • Tony Parrott says:

      So Thomas Jefferson was incorrect in his belief of the importance of education in a democracy (that being an educated society)?
      And with that comment you have proven yourself unworthy of debate.

      This string is just getting too nutty!

      • Another View says:

        No one is advocating against education. But there is a wonderful argument to be made that the government should not be in the education business at all.

        Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, Edmund Randolph, Patrick Henry, George Mason, George Wythe–Virginians all–were incredibly well educated, and not one of them–NOT ONE (1)–attended public schools.

        Moreover, Thomas Jefferson knew that this country was not in a democracy.

        • Those gentlemen you reference…were they not all from some sort of privileged family? Thus, they had the means to afford the best tutors – because that’s all that was there at the time. The public schools were set up in the 1800s to ensure that a quality education would be available to more than just the privileged few.

        • Right Winger says:

          Oh please, they all lived before there was public education.

          • Another View says:

            Well let us see. Our founders were fluent in Greek, Latin and French, all without the benefit of public schools. Today public schools are everywhere, and many children can barely speak or write in English.

            Education is a fine thing. Public education is an oxymoron.

          • Lonnie Bishop says:

            And those fellows had the luxury of elite private education at a time when the vast majority of people didn’t (or were forbidden by the laws of the land at the time). You can’t compare the two education systems in place.

          • Another View says:

            But I can. The historical facts clearly demonstrate that the American public was MORE literate and MORE informed then, than now. WITHOUT QUESTION!

            The Framers wrote the Constitution specifically to be understood by the common man, not the Supreme Court or the Harvard faculty.

  14. My 2 Cents says:

    MY wife is a teacher and I see first hand the amount of time an work she puts in. Everynight there is something to be done. Yet alone find time to be with HER kids. Its only a matter of time before she heads over the mountain for the Big Pay-day. AT least there, you are compensated for your work. If you aren’t a farmer or own land here in Berryville/ Clarke, you mean nothing to the BOS!!!! (Redacted)

    TEACHERS deserve more as well as POLICE OFFICERS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • goodgracious says:

      You see, that doesn’t matter how much time she puts in to this career in small minds. People look at the “time off”. Hello, this is not vacation time. The pay is for contract days that is spread over 12 months.

      I empathize with you and your wife. I have been both a professional in the private sector, and a professional educator. No way can you can compare the two. While the private sector was grueling, exciting, and had long hours, I was dealing with professionals on a certain level. We all knew what to expect from each other to get the job done. While I had some late evenings, I had virtually no weekend work, but I was always on call.

      So time goes by, I leave that job, and think, how wonderful to give back to the community and be a teacher. I was very excited, half the salary, but summers off, OH WOW.

      Unless you have walked in an educator’s shoes I think you should shut up. I have never in my life seen such disrespect. First you take 10 years or so to decide on a high school. Then you quibble over this and that. All because of taxes. Well, take your gripes to the county to get a sustainable tax base that does not over tax homeowners.

      I think any teacher who makes it beyond year 1 is a saint. They not only have to teach to some stupid meaningless test, they have to talk to parents who blame the teacher that johnnie failed because, oh gee, he didn’t do the homework. I’ll swear I put in more at home hours teaching than I ever did before.

      And you know what? I didn’t mind that. But lack of respect from parents, students, bos among others, made me cash in. Who needs this. Keep your kids home and teach them yourself.

      I’m over it now. 🙂

  15. Another View says:

    No they don’t. Public teachers and police officers are supposed to be public servants. That is, they chose a profession for reasons other than, and in spite of, the pay.

    Government employees live off the taxpayer. There is no free exchange of monies for services, as every dollar of tax money is taken by force. And in the case of teachers, many pay twice, once for the public schools, and another time for private schools, as the public schools are inadequate for their child’s education.

    Teaching is not near the grueling experience that its advocates make it seem. Indeed, if it were, more teachers would be leaving the profession.

    I understand anyone wanting more money. What I don’t understand is the entitlement mentality that the teachers and other government employees have, in making their demands.

    • virginiacop says:

      AV is absolutely right. I knew what was expected of me and what the pay was and what the hours were long before I was hired. I work nights, weekends, holidays and I can quit any time I want and strike out on my own. It makes me sick listening to public employees and former employees whine and complain.

      Being a teacher, deputy or police officer is a lot easier than being an independent small business owner. They are the ones that need the break.

    • My 2 Cents says:

      Well she will go be a Public Servant somewhere else and make 20 Thousand more……
      Tootles, Another View…

      • Another View says:

        That’s fine. No one begrudges anyone making money, and if the taxpayers in Loudoun wish to pay more, fine. It does not hurt me at all.

        But if she does leave Clarke County for more money in Loudoun, it kind of undermines her “I love teaching, the kids, my community, and public service” gibberish. It illustrates that she is not a public servant, but someone who sells her skills to the highest bidder. Nothing wrong with that, but it is not some noble principle either.

        • My 2 Cents says:

          Maybe it’s more about people like you in our community that perceive teachers- who HAVE the credentials and LOVE what they do, yet are treated as “public servants” who don’t deserve respect, fair treatment, and compensation, are the reason for jumping ship. If your gonna get treated like crap by the people you “serve” you might as well make a little more dough right? By the way, you don’t see police offers retirement being taken away- like the proposal here in Clarke this year. Also, do you think doctors and surgeons who also have the credentials are certified and love what they do shouldn’t have proper compensation?…hmmm then you may be in trouble one day when you need a doctor…there just may not be one there for ya. That’s what happens when you are treated as a public servant, you lose WONDERFUL, qualified, caring, hard working and dedicated teachers…think about that. How great would the county be if they couldn’t keep great teachers? Teachers prepare the workforce and community of our future don’t you want your grand county to continue to grow and be well taken care of? That’s called properly preparing our youth..without great teachers that can’t happen. Or perhaps, you don’t have children or have had bad experiences in school. Either way, you probably wouldn’t know the influence great teachers have on children today. Many teachers find themselves in the position to meet basic students needs that parents fall short of meeting before they are able to even learn each day. You have no idea the role that teachers take on when working with 20-30 kids everyday. You think parents can teach their kids at home??? Virginia has a huge percentage of parents who aren’t even able to feed their children breakfast and lunch everyday, that’s why they get free, reduced breakfast and lunch at school..are you kidding me? YOU HAVE NO CLUE! But I don’t fault you for that…it’s lack of knowledge really..Get yourself educated and spend some time volunteering in a school to see for yourself. Then and only then, will you see the amount of hardwork, care, and pressure that teachers take on because they LOVE the students they work with. So, “Another View” go check it out for yourself and get “another view” before you respond to this will ya?

          • hhmmm... says:

            I do have a child in the system…N there are many wonderful teachers there that do help him…not for the money..the one’s that I have met want to help him..they want to be the ones that change his life n help him understand the potential that he has. The one’s that I have met don’t care about the money..let’s be honest here..doe’s the money help? Yes of course it does. But just knowing that they made a difference makes them feel more. The good teachers are not out for money. They want to make a difference. They need to be able to live also, please don’t get me wrong…but the good teachers stick around to see these kids do well..that is called a community…and that’s what we have in Clarke County. That is something no one can change..and for that you should be thankful if you have kids in the ‘system’..

          • My 2 Cents..”… that’s why they get free, reduced breakfast and lunch at school..are you kidding me?”

            Just wanted to point out…that breakfast and lunch isn’t free, we have to pay for it.

          • Another View says:

            But I do have a clue. Indeed, I have quite a bit of knowledge.

            No one is stating that teachers do not work hard. But working hard does not make them special. Indeed, teachers are most certainly NOT the hardest working folks in this or any other County.

            Teachers should be fairly paid. They are. That some wish more money also does not make them special, as most people perceive themselves as underpaid. But for teachers to be able to force others to pay them more is wrong–and taxes are forced payments, pure and simple.

            Currently most people are foregoing raises. Teachers should not be any more sheltered from our economic hard times than other taxpayers. And to state otherwise is purely selfish.

            I pay twice; once for the public schools and another time for the superior private school to which I send my child. I pay enough now, thank you very much. NO TAX HIKES FOR RAISES!

        • Clarke Life says:

          How can you object to anyone wanting to make more money? Esp. in a day where Electricity Bills average 300bucks a month and gas being 4dollars…

          You gotta be kidding me Another View?

          • Another View says:

            I do not fault them. But I do not care to be forced to pay for their raises. I am not kidding.

      • hhmmm... says:

        If part of the reason why she would head over the mountain is because she doesn’t have time for her kids wouldn’t going over the mountain defeat the purpose? She’ll just be gone longer and stuck in traffic and then be stressed out and more than likely by the time she gets home she’d have a headache and be ready for bed.

  16. Seems most of the folks posting here have answers for most every issue. Why I ask aren’t any of you in public office? Pretty easy when all you have to do is sit at a keyboard and spout off.

    • Another View says:

      Some of us are busy making a living and earning money to pay the taxes upon which now a majority of the American people rely to live.

    • You can’t run for office and remain anonymous.

  17. Can we deduct these folks on our taxes?
    , after all, they are dependent on us

  18. Hey My sister is a teacher. it would drive me batty if I had to bring work home. Wait I do bring work home..
    Here is the deal. Most people know teaching isn’t a well paid gig when they get into it. Clarke County is what it is. Small, rural, not a big industrial base. We are lucky to have what we have, and we have to make due. Pay people more> OK where is it going to come from? Someone has to do with less. The question is, how much? Everything is going up because of gas, maybe just once just once, I would like to see government do with less for a change.
    We are building public buildings like crazy, almost as if we were flush with cash. So go askthose that decided to build all these new facilities where the pot of gold is.

  19. River Watcher says:

    The pot of gold (Loudoun) is running low on funds, even after they taxed the residents more.

    This is not what I want CC to turn into.

    Below is just a few highlights of whats going on at the end of the rainbow.

    The Loudoun County School Board and Board of Supervisors spent March 21 moving forward with the fiscal 2013 finances. Supervisors opted to move the tax rate up to $1.237. At this rate, the School Board will need to find an additional $22 million on cuts from their proposed budget, still less than the required cuts from earlier joint board discussions. The school board’s budget is around $73 million more than fiscal 2012.

    “There’s going to be an impact. Whether we have to reconfigure benefits. Whatever we end up doing, there’s going to be an impact. We don’t have enough time to consider the impact,” School Board member Bill Fox (Leesburg) said. “To cut any amount responsible we need to understand the impacts and that requires some time. The majority of us are new board members.”

    Both boards had brought up the idea of moving the elementary school closer to the Dulles South area that needs overcrowding to be alleviated.

  20. Mike Sipe says:

    Everyone has an opinion. Some interesing, some crazy, some humorous, some emotional motivated. The more I read the more I realize our world (county) was better off before we had avenues like this to express our opinions. I guess it does give me some entertainment on a rainy Saturday morning. Stop complaining about the cards you have be dealt and play your hand or go elsewhere and get a better or worse hand.

  21. George Archibald says:

    The office of County Administrator David L. Ash provided me with a 53-page “Business Operations Analysis” of Clarke County conducted a full year ago by the Government Finance Officers Association, which found that integration of Clarke County’s various computer management systems and financial accountability were inadequate and wasteful of taxpayers’ money. The GFOA report stated that the county, public schools and Berryville town financial management systems’ “inability to share information across functions created inefficiencies, hampered productivity, and created errors in processing.”

    In 12 months since the report was delivered, no action has been taken to solve this propblem, yet a $247,227 carryover of unused, unspent schools revenue sits in the current FY 2012 budget account that ends June 30. Except the Board of Supervisors has told Schools Superintendent Michael Murphy to spend, spend, spend the money in the next 12 weeks before the end of the fiscal year so it will all be expended and not carried over. What a scandal.

    The Public Schools budget submission for FY 2013 actually proposed to Chairman Michael Hobert and the county Board of Supervisors that they formally dedicate the unused school funds as a one-third-downpayment for so-called state-of-the-art Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software that is used by the City of Staunton and many other community governments across the country. But they have refused to take this action.

    According to the year-old GFOA report to the county, the additional wasted man-hours caused by Clarke County’s inefficient systems for county account managers and workers is in the range of at least 270 to
    350 hours “of non-value added activity” across the county and schools, which was costed out at an annual monetary waste of $147,000 to $315,000 from non-productive labor by county employees.

    So based on the GFOA report, the functional inefficiency of Clarke County’s present financial management systems cost taxpayers a wasted $147,000 to $315,000 over the past 12 months, which is one-half what implementation of a new improved ERP system proposed is estimated to cost.

    Why have Supervisor John Staelin and others on the Board of Supervisors blocked Chairman Michael Hobert’s attempt to adopt the ERP option buy using the carryover $247,227 iinstead of letting the public schools superintendent shove it out the window at the end of the fiscal year?

    And how does this square with another increase in spending money for the public schools next year, a proposed 2-cent real estate tax hike to raise more money for over-spending, while a quarter-million dollars of unspent money is literally thrown away in this unaccountable, wasteful fashion?

    It’s very sad and pathetic that Chairman Hober himself told me in a letter last week, “It is expected that at the end of FY 12 these carryover funds will have been expended. I responded to him that the supervisors’ neglect is “a clear acknowledgement that fiscal accountability is lacking and fiscal recklessness reigns in Clarke County, as the supervisors also seek unnecessarily to raise the real estate tax rate another two cents on the backs of taxpayers in order to support even higher spending without proper accountability and transparency.”

    • Of course the spending is reckless and there is no accountability…we are talking about government…they are spending OUR money, there is no incentive to be wise and efficient.

  22. Perhaps Mr. Hobert will share his letter and the public can see for themselves how reckless this money is being spent.

  23. Dmaxnjackson says:

    Is it about time for a rally and protest in downtown Berryville? Strength in numbers does a whole lot. I’m in…….