Hosted by the Scott County Chamber of Commerce, along with New Peoples Bank, Addington Oil, and Food City, the event welcomed candidates for Virginia’s 40th Senatorial District, Virginia House of Delegates First Legislative District, constitutional offices, Board of Supervisors and school board. Candidates were given questions prior to the forum and were encouraged to answer the questions during their speaking time, though it wasn’t required.
Board of Supervisors candidates were asked the following questions: “With the recent decision of the current board to raise taxes to assist with rising county expenses, what would be your plan to address that issue to avoid raising taxes in the future?” and “What are your priorities if elected?”
Below are portions of the responses for at-large and districts 1 and 2; all candidates running for these positions were present at the forum except for District 1 Republican Darrel Jeter. Responses from candidates in the other districts will run in a separate story tomorrow.
Stefanie Cruby (At-Large, Republican)
“Scott County should be more proactive in attracting small businesses to the area. We need to look at the surrounding counties and adopt what’s worked for them. We need to invest in our county better. We need to invest in businesses that create jobs and businesses that will make folks want to spend money in Scott County. We the people can’t keep bearing the burden to keep the county afloat. I promise to push hard for small businesses and to push for more industry in the county. I think we as a county have missed too many opportunities for growth and revenue, and I promise to advocate for those.”
“Being an advocate is good, but we have to have responsibility and accountability on the part of every single person charged with overseeing our budget. Fiscal responsibility implies a government pursues the appropriate level of government spending and tax to … maintain sustainable public finances, ensure fiscal policy supports the ideal rate of economic growth and that we maintain appropriate levels of public investment. … Most people have a basic understanding of the county government: We pay taxes, we should see improvements. Or in Scott County’s current situation, you don’t pay your taxes, you see your debt get distributed around, and taxes must be raised on those of us that do our due diligence.”
E. Dennis Horton (At-Large, Democrat)
“Tax stability and sustainability has to be a carefully crafted plan, not only to raise the revenues it takes to operate local government and to provide those services required of the county (that are) necessary to make creative infrastructure investments that will produce benefits far in the future. Too low a tax rate and we can’t operate. Too high and we drive away business and an undue hardship on the taxpayer. I seek to propose a twofold approach. Adopt zero-base budgeting and ask our delegation to the General Assembly to provide more ways of raising revenues at the local level than putting it on the property owner. Will these ideas avoid raising taxes? No, but it should close the revenue gap so that tax increase are seldom thought of.”
“The second plan is to implement real-time property tax assessment to quickly add improved property to the tax rolls, thus reducing the lag time between improving property and collecting the correct amount of tax. I will work with existing programs … to ensure a qualified technical workforce for any business seeking to expand or relocate to Scott County. Agriculture and resource harvesting is a vital part of the economy, and I will work with the agricultural-based agencies to help farmers diversify their production, expand their operations and increase profitability, and I will work to get a farmers market in Scott County.”
Patricia Kilgore (District 1, Democrat)
“I think we should be fiscally responsible, and with that, I think that includes making sure that the funds in the county are appropriately distributed and accounted for. I feel like that we need to get more information out to the people in the county. That’s one thing, one comment that I’ve heard as I’ve been going around visiting with people is they really don’t know, or they don’t understand, how the Board of Supervisors works, what our responsibilities are, what our business is all about. So I think it’s important that we let people know what we’re doing and we let people know where we stand as far as … the funds that are going out and the funds that are coming in.”
“Next is actively search for manufacturing and/or production opportunities for Scott County to widen the tax base. So if we have more industry in the county, and I know that it’s difficult from hearing everybody else talk, that it’s sometimes very difficult to get people interested in coming to the county to work, but I think we need to be very aggressive about that. We need to really search out those opportunities and see how we can work with them to try to get industry into the county, because I think that’s very important, and that will take some of the tax burden off the people.”
Marshall Tipton (District 2, Republican)
“I believe that jobs are the most important priorities for our county, and we must work to get smarter to get new businesses that will create employment and continue to look for solutions that will make it attractive for them to relocate and stay here. I am committed to listen and work with the Chamber of Commerce, industry leaders and community leader groups. Over the last three and one-half years, we’ve had several new businesses and a couple of relocations to larger spaces throughout the county, which equates to over 330 new jobs and with approximately $11.6 million in investments, which includes $4.5 million for the Daniel Boone Interpretive Center.”
“My second priority is our streets, our bridges, our roads must offer safe and efficient transportation for individuals and commercial interests. I work closely with our county regional VDOT administrators to ensure that our needs are met. … Our water supplies must be safe, dependable and easily accessed by homeowners and businesses. Sewer and waste water runoff must be processed properly to protect our streams and water supplies. Our public buildings and schools and structures must be protected with conscientious maintenance. My third priority is the maintenance of critical services. First responders, police, fire and EMS personnel must have the support and equipment they need to keep our families and neighborhoods and communities safe.”
Maria Colobro (District 2, Democrat)
“I think part of the problem is that we need to have jobs in the county. We need to have businesses that stay here. In running for this position, I looked up a lot of different information. I went to the Economic Development Authority board, and I saw our most recent success story was the TeleTech, but nothing after that. … We are one of the 16th or 17th largest landmass counties in the state of Virginia, and I think we’re the only county without a hospital. We don’t have a hospital, we don’t have lodging, and we’ve basically become a suburb of the Tri-Cities. So we need people to come over from Tennessee and spend their money here, but you’ve got to have something to get them over here. So we need to bring in businesses, and I think that would help. …”
“I live in Hiltons; I’m in District 2, so one of the priorities that was mentioned was the water. Some of us do have water lines, and they are starting that sewer phase, but there’s a lot that still don’t have water lines or public access to clean water. … There’s still people that have well water that when it rains, it turns brown and it stinks. We live in 2019; everybody should have access to clean water.”
*Note: This is the third in a series of stories from the candidate forum.