Once More Into the Breach

Finding Nonsense and Beating it Sensible

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I used to watch TV news and yell at the box. Now I jump up from the couch, sit at the computer and begin to type laughing maniacally saying "Wait until they read this." It's more fun than squashing tadpoles

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Thursday, December 28, 2006

Va. House Puts Onus on Counties for Road Crisis

There has to be a lab in Korea that has been cloning county supervisors for at least the last few decades. Every county follows the same pattern without deviation regardless of the experience of their neighbors.

Growth comes to a county and the supervisors fall over top of themselves to help bring in the new people to expand the tax base. The state allows the system of proffers where the county can require some infrastructure development by the developers in exchange for approval of their zoning requests. Typically this system has been grossly under utilized. Rather that having roads and schools built the supervisors have settled for just some land set aside for a school site or park. Finally when the situation is so completely out of control the voters put an anti growth board in that tries to stop all development. The need for tax revenues to manage the current situation is greater that the current population can sustain and the lawsuits by land owning developers prevail in court so the pressure finally breaks the logjam and a new board comes in and the growth explodes. Still the proffer system is under utilized. For relief they start crying to Richmond for road development to relive the congestion. Some lawmakers in the Statehouse are telling the counties to take respectability for the problems they have created.

Speaking in blunt terms, House leaders said an eagerness by local officials to approve development was "an abdication of responsibility" to plan for the impact on traffic, and that supervisors in growing counties "have done a less-than-stellar job" in planning for the future.

"The easiest job in the world is to be a supervisor approving subdivisions," said Del. C.L. "Clay" Athey Jr. (R-Warren), who leads the House GOP effort to design land-use legislation. "You can approve it, and as soon as it's over and done with, you can say any impacts to the roads you don't have to consider at all and you can just start blaming the state."

Even easier has been the Statehouse politician's ability to buy votes by promising to build roads. The chickens have come home to roost however because the tax bill to fill these promises is just too much to swallow. The weakness in the system has been the inability or unwillingness to simply charge an excise tax on new residential development not to mention the local politician's vote buying schemes such as recreational centers, elaborate school and government facilities and bloated county payrolls. While this bill offers to address the development aspect, the county pols are screaming bloody murder.

"It just shows how desperate they are to find somebody to blame rather than themselves," said Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Gerald E. Connolly (D), who was singled out by name during the news conference. "This is all yet another attempt to sidetrack the public discussion from their unwillingness to put any new money on the table for transportation infrastructure."
Truth is the money comes from the same taxpayer pockets. Whether the state or the local government foots the bill, it is still the citizen who has to come up with the money. This bill would at least relieve the citizens outside of Northern Virginia and Tidewater from paying for roads they are not driving on. The current way of doing business sucks revenues from the counties which need development to underwrite the already developed counties infrastructure improvements. County supervisors have long enjoyed the ability to shift respectability for thier decisions to Richmond and it needs to stop.

It is my hope that this bill passes. I'm not holding my breath.



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