Since most of the commentaries appearing in BlueLouisa were originally intended for publication in the Central Virginian there are limits to what they can cover. While on the flip side of the coin, Gloria Pope’s detailed commentary about the Sheriff’ race probably contains more information than most readers can readily process.
That said, it’s worth repeating several of her points; shortly after asking for the Boards help with a quarter of million dollar shortfall, Sheriff Fortune chose to give himself a $10K raise, convinced that the Board of Supervisors has no say in the matter.
A strange turn of circumstances, especially since only the Board can approve increases beyond the state mandated minimum for constitutionally elected officers. What’s really driving his decision, along the Boards refusal to seek further legal clarification on this matter is anyone’s guess?
One possibility that Gloria touched upon earlier is how accustomed the Board has become to taking the path of least resistance. Convinced that there’s no need to monitor his or any other County agencies budget as long as “supplemental funding” is available and they can continue to “find money in the budget.”
All the while, refusing to acknowledge just how much leaner this year’s budget is.
Perhaps Fortune was reading his tea leaves last year and saw this budget crunch coming and decided to slip himself a raise, thinking the Board wouldn’t notice it buried deep in their annual December “supplemental” funding request for unexpected budget overruns … I mean overtime costs.
No raise – no problem; shortly after his request was turned down by the board, he gave himself a $10,000 raise. While it is a relatively small amount compared to the $250-300K that is spent in overtime every year, both are products of a “we don’t need no stinking rules” mentality.
And it will cost the county more over the years as the federal funds that the Central Virginia Regional Jail was getting for housing federal prisoners dwindles down to virtually noting. It was this money which allowed all 5 counties participating in the Jail to their inmates for virtually nothing over the years.
Louisa County had been getting a particularly sweet deal out of this arrangement, since they were housing a far greater percentage of inmates for than all the other counties. And they are now responsible for ~ 40% of the inmates in the Central Virginia Regional Jail.
Now that this “sweet arrangement” has changed each of the counties participating in the jail will have to kick in funding proportional to their percentage of inmates being housed at the jail. Faced with increases ranging from half a million dollars to 1.5 million the 5 counties managed to pull off a unique version of kick the can down the road.
In what appears to of been a coordinated 5 county rebellion where members of the jail board, including recent additions; Louisa’s county administrator, Christian Goodwin, and Louisa district supervisor Troy Wade voted to force the Jail to spend the last of their fiscal reserves, effectively sparing the the 5 counties the inconvenience of having the pay their full costs for housing inmates at the regional jail. At least for this fiscal year.
And this kick the can down to the next fiscal year appears to have become a one size fits all strategy for dealing with other kinds of financial issues, particularly in Louisa County.
Like the Louisa County Board of Supervisors recent decision not to allocated any funding for the Industrial Development Authority (IDA), until they have burnt through all their reserves. Their decision not to fund the IDA so early in the fiscal year is another indication that this years 4% tax increase was not enough, and that digging into “supplemental funding” will likely become a way of life for many county agencies.
Should Fortune be re-elected for another term, expect more of these unanticipated expenses to find their way into the counties budget. And for voters in this election, the choices are; to maintain an increasingly costly status quo, or to change things.
The best chance to change the board’s dysfunctional behavior lies in the hands of the Jackson District voters. Assuming they elect James Smith as their Supervisor, it might be enough to keep the Board from being a rubber stamped body.
Even then, the Board is not likely to change much, or be honest about what they are doing with your money. That probably won’t happen until 2017, when the Board’s two most petrified pieces of wood come up for re-election.
So, if you finally gotten tired of watching fossils like the Sheriff waste hundreds of thousands of dollars year in and year out, then it’s long past time to remove him from office and elect Mike Silberman.