More budget buffoonery

You don’t need to be a political genius or even a political cynic to know that whenever the current gang of Loudoun’s Republican supervisors starts waxing eloquent about the rural beauties of our county, it’s a sure sign that they are about to screw Western Loudoun again.

Amid much tsk-tsking about the inadequate “return on investment” provided by the rural economy (even if, as Ralph Buona (R-Ashburn) told us in his last news[sic]letter, the “gorgeous countryside” and “great wines” of Loudoun are part of what makes it such a great place to “live, work and play”) the Board came within a whisker last night of killing funding for a single full time staffer in the economic development office assigned to promoting the rural economy. The position survived on a 5–4 vote, however, with the surprise deciding vote coming from none other than beleaguered supervisor Eugene Delgaudio (R-Sterling), who apparently is desperate to find friends anywhere these days.

Of course, nowhere in the budget is there a line item for Scott York’s completely unapproved and oversight-free foreign travel (approximately $10,000-plus last year), so the Board doesn’t have to worry abut justifying the “return on investment” of those public expenditures, nor of the $50,000 they tossed to a private sports league, nor the $20,000 spent on a boilerplate consultants report on the benefits to Loudoun of having more sports fields, nor the  $50,000+ they are planning to spend (also without any budget line item) out of the parks and recreation budget on an unscientific, counterproductive, and environmentally damaging crusade to spray pesticides on a few parks to assuage the Lyme loonies (has anyone other than the county’s health officer bothered to read all of the scientific studies which show that spraying is completely ineffective in reducing Lyme disease transmission rates?)

In more budget-posturing news, the Board last night also killed several small grants to non-profit organizations, particularly those located in . . . rural Western Loudoun. In a commendable effort to remove non-profit funding from political posturing and grandstanding, the county staff this year conducted a thorough independent evaluation and ranking of organizations seeking county grants and came up with a recommendation. But that did not stop Ken Reid (R-Leesburg), Buona, and the other supervisors from engaging in political posturing and grandstanding and killing two small proposed grants of $5,000 each, for the Waterford Foundation and the Blue Ridge Environmental Center, on the grounds (to quote Buona) that they “don’t serve all of Loudoun.” Fascinating new argument! Count on this Board to come up with such new “principles” whenever needed, and then promptly forget about them when one of their own pet programs comes up.

And in the ongoing effort by the Board to maintain Virginia’s status as one of the least transparent governments in America, Chairman Scott York (R-At Large) was quoted in Leesburg Today recently hailing the “record low turnout” of citizens requesting to speak at the Board’s budget hearings, which he said “is to the Board’s credit.”

Yes, lack of citizen involvement is something we can all take pride in.

NOTE: this post has been updated to correct an earlier version which incorrectly reported that Supervisor Ralph Buona (R-Ashburn) voted against the rural economic development staff position. The four votes against came from Ken Reid (R-Leesburg), Suzanne Volpe (R-Algonkian), Matt Letourneau (R-Dulles) and Shawn Williams (R-Broad Run).

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