Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local News

June 6, 2012

Tazewell residents get chance to speak out on proposed budget

TAZEWELL, Va. — Residents of Tazewell County were given an opportunity to voice their opinions on the proposed budget for the upcoming fiscal year Tuesday evening before the Board of Supervisors votes on the budget in coming weeks.

Before the public hearing, Tazewell County Administrator Jim Spencer gave a presentation on the breakdown of the county’s budget.

“Of the top employers in the county, Tazewell County Public Schools is number one,” Spencer said. “The Department of Social Services and county employees are all impacted by this budget. Of all the businesses in Tazewell County, 75 percent have less than nine employees, mom and pop type of places. We are concerned with these businesses and how it could impact their tax bases.”

Spencer said one of the areas most impacting the county budget is decreased funding for local schools which must be supplemented with an increase in local taxpayer contributions to the school system. The purchase of two new fire trucks, state-mandated changes to employee retirement funds and other costs have also impacted the budget, Spencer said.

Charlotte Whitted, executive director of the Crab Orchard Museum, asked the board to consider increasing the amount of funding given to the museum by the local government to $60,000 per year.

“We received state funding until 2007 at which time all non-state entities were eliminated,” Whitted said. “For the last six years, there has been no increase in our $55,000 funding from the board. We have eliminated a curator position and all salaries for our employees have been frozen  since that time. Occasionally, we have been graciously helped out from district funds. The town of Richlands has also eliminated us from their budget. We have an annual visitation of 17,000 people we bring into Tazewell County. We don’t want to nickel and dime the board. We want to retain the good relationship we have with you and all the things we do in Tazewell County.”

James C. St.Clair, of Tazewell, Va., told the board he did not want his taxes increased.

“The only thing I’m interested in is taxes,” St.Clair said. “I was told they weren’t going to increase taxes, but I can smell it in the air. I don’t know how I’m going to afford that. Everything costs entirely too much in this country. We have to do something about this.”

Board Chairman Mike Hymes said the board would vote on the proposed budget during their recessed meeting on Thursday, June 28 at 6 p.m.

The board conducted a public hearing on the changing of enterprise zones, but no members of the public came forward to speak. The board deferred the vote on the zones until their recessed meeting after Northwestern Supervisor Seth White requested more time to contact residents in his district about the changes to the enterprise zones.

“The state changed the rules of the enterprise zones, so residences no longer qualify,” White said. “We can only change so many boundaries per year. Businesses and industries that would qualify need these changes to be made. For that, we have had to remove some residents from these areas. There are no benefits to having a resident in an enterprise zone, so there is nothing for them to loose.”

Nanette Green of Tazewell, Va., came before the board to express her concerns about opportunities for youth in the county.

“Our concern is that we would like to see more opportunities for people of color in Tazewell,” Green said. “Our children are fleeing this area. I was wondering if there are any opportunities to train our young people in this area, to put them in positions and discuss what can happen for people of color in Tazewell County. During the last census, I believe there were only 310 African-Americans living in this county. We want our community to grow and to have more opportunities. We need to put our young people to work. Ask us for our assistance. We are willing to help.”

— Contact Kate Coil at kcoil@bdtonline.com

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