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A plan for Halifax
SoVaNow.com / September 26, 2013
With the Board of Supervisor election looming in November, it is an opportune time to put forth a plan for consideration by the candidates. Facts are that Halifax is facing multiple problems such as a declining population, loss of jobs, the tobacco buyout ending, a weak economy, etc. The question is “who running for election has developed a plan to deal with the situation?” I would like to suggest a three point objective plan for their consideration to deal with both the short-term and long-term situation facing Halifax County.
First deal with the declining population problem by attracting new citizens with the financial resources to stimulate the local economy by purchasing real estate, remodeling or building homes and demanding additional professional services, restaurants, or service business, etc. A part of the funds and facilities that are now used for tourism could be used to attract a small percentage of the estimated 10,000 baby boomers retiring each day by advertising in regional magazines, web sites, etc. Many of these individuals are not going to retire in the usual sense but will bring new life to clubs, mentoring programs and even may open new business ventures further spurring employment in the county. Retired financially secure individuals will not require the county infrastructure that younger or less financially secure individuals would require.
Second with the purchase of Smithfield Processing, China signaled that their growing population with an increasing standard of living is seeking more and better agricultural products. Other large countries such as India are also beginning to become interested in agricultural products and Halifax County with 93 percent of tis land area zoned agricultural is poised to benefit. Recent action by the Board of Supervisors to look into reopening a livestock slaughter facility and the hiring of an agricultural agent (both which I supported) are a move in the right direction. Recent approval of improvements to hog production facilities are another indication of the importance the Board of Supervisors has recently put on agriculture and farming.
Third, instead of the curren exercices of spending large sums of money attempting to attract large high tech employers, emphasize the expansion of existing businesses in the county. Small businesses have been and will continue to be the economic engines of the country. Utilizing or redirecting funds now misspent on the purchase of land and the building of industrial parks instead these funds could be used to grow these existing business and would be a more efficient and viable way to develop Halifax economically.
Additional areas for consideration for potential members of the Board of Supervisors are gifts to members of the Board of Supervisors that may be offered from time to time by organizations who might be asking the Board for assistance and the handling of off budget items. Although the amount of money may not rise to the level of the state or national level, the implications of favoritism can still exist and given the financial condition of Halifax County such gifts could be viewed as unseemly. There is a current controversy in Richmond regarding gifts to elected officials. While the sums involved in gifts and freebees dispensed to Halifax County Board of Supervisors members does not reach the amounts involved in Richmond or Washington the ethical question is still the same. Should gifts of free tickets to sporting events, other entertainment or meals be accepted by Board members? Other considerations are the free tickets to meals or entertainment given to the Board Members, but paid for by the County taxpayers.
It is current Board policy not to vote on off budget funding requests at the same meeting the request is made. By allowing off budget items to be voted upon, the Board risks spending funds which are not available under the budget and encourages off budget requests to be made. How would those running for election handle this? Would they favor not to allow such requests to be made unless it was in case of an emergency as defined by the state or national government or would they allow votes to spend unbudgeted funds?” i.e. would they allow budget busting?
I would encourage all candidates to write letters to the newspaper detailing their position on some of the above topics.
Barry Bank, Fifth District Supervisor, Halifax County.