January 9, 2007
A new report looks at government spending in central Virginia and one locality seems to be spending more than the rest.
According to a Free Enterprise Forum Study, over a 15 year period, the city of Charlottesville has had a 61% increase in spending.
“Whether or not the spending is responsible or irresponsible it is increasing,” said Study Author Neil Williamson, who is the executive director of Free Enterprise Forum.
Free Enterprise said the goal of the report is to promote dialogue and that it’s up to the people to decide whether their government is spending too much.
“Of course they are spending too much,” said Attorney and Founder of the Charlottesville Tax Payers Association Charles Weber.
Our city fathers said they spend more because they offer more like affordable housing and other social services that outlying counties do not.
“That is not reflected in the analysis that was done by this group,” said City Councilor Kevin Lynch.
The report also doesn't reflect that the counties run their utilities on separate budgets.
“It looks at the total spending of the city and includes in that the utility service that the city provides gas and water. So, they are not really comparing apples to apples,” said Lynch.
Still, Weber says there's no denying the city has fallen into a pattern of spending, year after year, raising the budget and raising the taxes.
“At some point people are going to say I'm tired of being taken advantage of here,” said Weber.
Weber said the proof is in the surplus. This year the city announced $9.9 million extra dollars in the budget.
“I think the surpluses and the tax increases stand together as evidence that maybe we can do things more efficiently,” said Weber.
Lynch agreed there may be a better way. “Although I have problems with the report I don't want to give people the impression we are not control costs,” he said.
According to the study, Albemarle, Louisa and Greene counties came in behind Charlottesville with an increase in spending of somewhere between 37 and 47%.