Posts belonging to Category waste of money



This puts the "idiots" in I’m Surrounded By Idiots.

The Free Lance-Star: Caroline seeking to boost tourism:

Caroline County expects more than 200,000 tourists will stop by annually once its visitor center opens at Carmel Church this August.

Based on what study?

They’re saying that 547.9 people a day are going to go to the visitors center!

They’re saying that eight times the county’s population will go every year!

How many of these people are just going to go in, go to the bathroom, and leave? How much money is that going to cost? This is going to drive customers away from McDonald’s and Burger King which actually bring money into the county!

So Caroline administrations are preparing by taking applications for the county’s first full-time tourism manager, a position that will probably be filled this month.

“By starting now, they can help get that space in working order so when the public comes they can have a wonderful experience,” said Gary Wilson, Caroline’s economic development director.

Caroline currently has a tourism director, who also manages the county’s tourism Web site. So far, about 65 people have applied for the additional manager position, which will pay between $36,145 and $54,468, plus benefits.

Whoever is hired will not only manage the $2.4 million, 5,000-square-foot center just off Interstate 95, but also help promote such attractions as the State Fair, which opens next year at The Meadow, birthplace of Triple Crown winner Secretariat.

Remember this when the county says they have to borrow money and raise your taxes to pay for a school! They had plenty of money for the visitors center!

There’s some serious money per square footage too:

Visitors Center: $2,400,000 / 5,000 square feet = $480 per square foot

Ladysmith Elementary School: $19,800,000 / 100,000 square feet = $198 per square foot

County Administration Building: $3,700,000 / 18,150 square feet = $204 per square foot

Of course, the county administration building will only hold 20 full-time personnel.

“The State Fair is not just two weeks a year, which is what most people think,” Watson said. “It will be doing fun things all the time.”

Uh…I’m going to assume that’s supposed to be “Wilson”; but I demand a correction nevertheless! :)

Really, what are the State Fair grounds going to do when the Fair isn’t going?

Hasn’t Fredericksburg resorted to subsidizing the Expo Center in Fredericksburg?

Other Caroline County attractions include the 40,000-square-foot Virginia Sports Center, a popular venue for youth sports tournaments; Pendleton and Mattaponi Springs golf courses; and the historic town of Bowling Green, which is near where Lincoln assassin John Wilkes Booth was killed.

What about the Four Winds Club’s Public Golf Course? It always seems that Port Royal is forgotten about (heck, Calvin Taylor took credit for Pendleton and Mattaponi Springs as the first golf courses in the county when Four Winds has been here for decades!).

What historic tourism events are there in Bowling Green? I can’t think of any. The Old Mansion is a bed and breakfast and isn’t open to the public.

The only historic site that I can think of is the Jackson Shrine (hey, isn’t that in the Port Royal district, too?).

There’s the Lyceum that hasn’t been restored in Port Royal too. There’s the two surviving chimneys of Dorothy Roy’s home. None of the historic structures in Port Royal are open to the public that I’m aware. All the old homes are currently occupied.

Uh…John Wilkes Booth was killed a heck of a lot closer to Port Royal than Bowling Green. Too bad the visitors center is on the other side of the county! Besides, all there is to see where Booth was killed is a sign by the road…

Looks like the visitors center was built in the wrong part of the county!

Wilson said there’s no way to predict the economic impact the new tourism manager and visitor center will have, but he expects the county will see an uptick in meals- and lodging-tax revenues. They’ll also make it easier to recruit new tourist attractions, as well as other businesses, since his office will move from Bowling Green to the center.

“Of course not, we can’t predict how much money this will waste.” Or as Jeff Sili has said, “[t]he Visitor Center does not have to be just a fancy office for Wilson and a way to move county employees out of our county seat to further undermine the business climate”.

I guess Gary Wilson needs a pretty nice office to spend time editing Wikipedia.

“I-95 is like a river with money rolling through it,” he said. “We need to be able to dip into that river and bring that money into the county. We’ve never had an opportunity to do that before.”

The Board of Supervisors still can’t find anything more important to do…

Than requiring building permits for fencing?! And then lying about it!

Click the thumbnail for a bigger image:

And it’s amazing how they have the nerve to lie on their own agenda:

TXT-17-2007: AN ORDINANCE TO AMEND THE ZONING ORDINANCE OF CAROLINE COUNTY BY AMENDING ARTICLE XV, SUPPLEMENTAL REGULATIONS, BY REPEALING AND REPLACING SECTION 2, FENCES, WALLS AND HEDGES. The purpose of this zoning ordinance text amendment is allow for fences in the front yards that exceed 3 feet in height in the Rural Preservation and Agricultural Preservation zoning districts. (First Reading)

They fail to note the requirement for building permits, but I’m sure that just skipped their minds, right?

And now some guess commentary from the person that alerted me to this outright stupidity:

The problem is there will always be unintended consequences with something like this. I met a couple at a BOS meeting who can’t build a barn for their horses in their field because their field is in front of their house. The County should not be distinguishing between front and back yards in agricultural areas (AP & RP).

What if your fence is next to a steep hill or another place where the animals can get up high? No problem, as long as you dish out the $100/$200 for the building permit to get over six feet and the $1000 for the special exemption permit to get over seven feet.

I asked the Planning Dept. about the fees and they said they won’t know until next year (after the ordinance is passed of course).

The meeting on this idiocy will be November 15th (not the 13th!) and should take place after public comments (which are done at 7:30 P.M.). So if you have to come late, at least come, and let the Board know that they’re a bunch of idiots!

Your county tax dollars at work…, Part 4

Paying for help wanted ads for a private company? And using the Roam Secure Network to send out a press release (scroll down) by the Director of the Department of Economic Development, Gary Wilson, as an “emergency alert” for the same company?

On October 10, 2007, the Director of the Department of Economic Department, Gary Wilson, and the County Administrator, Percy Ashcraft, send out a press release as an “emergency alert” to the email accounts of subscribers of Caroline County’s Roam Secure Network. A separate “emergency alert” was sent to subscribers’ cell phones telling them to check their email for the press release.

The press release included comments from Maxie Rozell, Floyd Thomas, and Wayne Acors regarding the announcement that VSE, Inc. was adding a 100 new jobs to their organization. Apparently, the county doesn’t have anything better to do with our tax dollars than use an emergency resource to send a press release for candidates less than a mouth before an election.

In the October 24, 2007, editions of The Caroline Progress (p. B3) and The Free Lance-Star (p. E12) there was ads for the same company, VSE Inc., with the statement that “Caroline County Board of Supervisors announces that […]” and that the “The Jobs Hotline is a free service to Caroline Businesses.” The ad in The Caroline Progress was a half-page ad. When’s the last time the Sheriff’s Office or the Department of Fire, Rescue, and Emergency Management had a half-page ad paid for them?

Free service to businesses? What about the taxpayers in the county? Ads for The Caroline Progress and The Free Lance-Star can cost in excess of $1,000.00. Can a private business not pay for their own damn ads instead of the taxpayers paying for propaganda for the members of the Board of Supervisors?

So, tell me, Maxie (since I know you come to this blog), how much money are you and your buddies on the Board of Supervisors, along with Percy Ashcraft, and Gary Wilson, wasting? And Maxie, why wouldn’t you answer my comment on your own blog (which you have since blocked access to)?

Also, Maxie, who at the Department of Economic Department has nothing better to do than edit Wikipedia pages?

Your county tax dollars at work…, Part 3

Paying for a “summer employment program”? Isn’t that the role of McDonald’s? (An ongoing series on the wasteful spending by the Board of Supervisors and the County Administrator…)

According to the Fiscal Year 2007-2008 Adopted Budget for Caroline County:

The Summer Employment Program is a County program set up to employ high school and college age County young people in part time and seasonal full time jobs with the County. The Program is intended to offer youth an opportunity to constructively occupy their time and to earn money while doing it. In addition, the Program is structured to give the participants the experience of applying and interviewing for a job and is expected to teach them valuable work habits that they will be able to draw upon in the future.

Any County Department or Constitutional Officer with a need for unskilled or introductory level labor can make use of the program and participants have been and are employed in a wide variety of maintenance, office support and recreation program activities. The County Administrator’s Office provides central coordination for the Program, managing the budget, soliciting and collecting applications, and forwarding them on to interested departments or offices.

An internship component has also been added to the program to give college age youth an opportunity to gain work experience in a professional setting.

You know, the last time I looked there were plenty of jobs out there during the summer for teens. Meanwhile, we’re paying in the tune of $156,837 budgeted to this operation over the last four fiscal years.

“Our tax base won’t allow 24-hour [fire/EMS] coverage” or a public safety building, but it does allow for a “summer employment program”?

With that money wasted every year, we could have afforded an additional deputy or an additional firefighter or medic. Heck, that’s the second fire/EMS or sheriff’s deputy position I’ve found so far!

Your county tax dollars at work…, Part 2

Paying for a cannery? (An ongoing series on the wasteful spending by the Board of Supervisors and the County Administrator…)

According to the Fiscal Year 2007-2008 Adopted Budget for Caroline County:

The Cannery, located on Route 301 next to the Community Services Center, is a County supported facility that enables Caroline residents to use equipment and technical expertise not otherwise available to them in the canning of food. Individuals may take any quantity or variety of meat or produce to the Cannery and the trained, part time staff will direct and assist them in processing and packing it in cans using the equipment at the facility.

So, we’re paying for the staff and the equipment necessary for a cannery. Paying in the tune of $130,732 budgeted to this operation over the last four fiscal years.

“Our tax base won’t allow 24-hour [fire/EMS] coverage” or a public safety building, but it does allow for a cannery? With that money wasted every year, we could have afforded an additional deputy or an additional firefighter or medic.

What an idiot…

From Percy Ashcraft’s Message from the County Administrator September, 2007:

[…]

All county residents are encouraged to register for the new Caroline Alert System. The system will notify residents of emergencies and other government news through their cell phones and desktop computers. This is a free service offered by the Board of Supervisors. Click on https://www.CarolineAlert.com to register.

“[O]ffered by the Board of Supervisors”? Are they paying for it out of their own pockets? No! The service is being offered (via tax payers) by Caroline County (specifically Director Ed Fuzy and the Caroline County Department of Fire, Rescue, and Emergency Management).

[…]

Here is a capsule glance of other activities that will be happening in County government during the month of September:

[…]

  • Renovations to the Animal Shelter will be completed this month and the improvements will bring the facility into compliance with state regulations.

We’re still waiting on that new animal shelter we been promised for years. Maybe if you laid off the trips to Hawaii, the $1,100,000 visitor’s center [see below], and the $17,460.20 salaries for supervisors we might be able to afford one.

  • Construction of the new Visitor’s Center along Route 207 will continue this month. The developer of Belmont contributed $1.1 million to help construct the facility, with the remainder of the funds coming from TEA 21 appropriations.

Nice use of proffer money that should be going to roads, schools, and public safety (maybe even an animal shelter).

[…]

  • County staff and consultants continue to work on a proposal that will allow the County to withdraw water from the Rappahannock River in the future. The Department of Environmental Quality must grant its approval before water can be withdrawn.

Because it’s a brilliant idea to run water lines across a county from Port Royal to Ladysmith for salt water that will need to go through desalination and be repressurized repeatedly.

[…]

  • Construction is underway on the new Ladysmith Elementary School.

What about the repairs/upgrades for Bowling Green Primary School, Bowling Green Elementary School, and Ladysmith Primary School?

  • Construction is underway of a new skateboard park to be located at the County Park across from Caroline Middle School.

Skateboard park? $45,000 for a skateboard park? Good use of tax payers’ money there.

[…]

  • Officials of the Rappahannock Community Services Board are building a new facility in Caroline County across from Caroline High School. The property was donated by the Board of Supervisors.

Did the Board of Supervisors own the damn property? No! The property belonged to Caroline County!

[…]

  • A cost analysis and design of the new Sparta Fire Station will continue this month.

That was requested and approved last year and you haven’t even finished the cost analysis and design?

  • The Board of Supervisors approved the purchase of the Union Bankshares building in Bowling Green at its June 26 meeting. Moseley Architects will begin final design of the floor plan for the offices which will include housing the Commissioner of the Revenue, Treasurer, County Administration and possibly the Registrar.

First, it’s Commissioner of Revenue, not Commissioner of the Revenue. Second, I don’t see the seventy-five (75) personnel there that you talked about previously. In fact, I only see twenty (20) to twenty-one (21) full time positions period. Meanwhile, the Sheriff’s Office and Emergency Services have eighty-eight (88) full time positions that could have used a public safety building.

  • A Tea 21 grant to fund landscaping improvements in and around the courthouse complex was announced in May by the Commonwealth Transportation Board. The improvements will improve safety for pedestrians walking between buildings and should provide additional parking.

Closing Ennis Street is going to increase safety for pedestrians? How are the prison transport vans supposed to get into the Circuit Court building? Now you’re going to have people that are being held on felonies out in the open where God only knows what could happen.

“[S]hould provide additional parking”? It either is or isn’t; you already paid for it and you don’t know?

Your county tax dollars at work…

Editing Wikipedia? I kid you not:

Someone with the IP address 166.61.231.210 has made three anonymous edits (#1 on September 14, 2006, #2 on September 14, 2006, and #3 on July 17, 2007) to the Caroline County, Virginia Wikipedia page. The person added the following to the page:

During the Colonial Period, Caroline County was the birthplace of Thoroughbred Racing in North America. Arabian horses were imported from England to provide the basis for American breeding stock.

Patriot Edmund Pendleton played a large role in the Virginia Resolution for Independence (1775) and Caroline native, John Penn, was a signer of the Declaration of Independence (www.foundersofamerica.org).

Explorers, William Clark and his slave, York, were members of the Lewis and Clark Expedition (1803); both were born near what is now Ladysmith, Virginia in Caroline.

[…]

Caroline County is serviced by US Interstate 95 and has the second most profitable interchange in Virginia at Carmel Church, exit 104.

[…]

Economic growth in Caroline in the last five years have been rapid, mostly due to affordable housing and close proximity to Northern Virginia and Washington D.C. In 2005, Caroline was recognized as the 10th Fastest Growing County in America. Also in 2005, Caroline County won the Virginia Community Ecomomic [sic] Development Award (CEDA) for Business Recruitment and the CEDA Award for the entire south from the Southern Economic Development Council.

Among recent Economic Development successes in Caroline have been the recruitment of the State Fair of Virginia, to open in 2008 (previously in Richmond for 151 years), Remuda Ranch, The Virginia Sports Complex, and the multi-national electronics firm, M.C. Dean.

The IP address, 166.61.231.210, returns to a subdomain of co.caroline.va.us, the official Caroline County Government website.

Now, I have three questions: a) What Caroline County government employee edited this Wikipedia page?; b) Is the county paying this employee to edit Wikipedia pages?; and c) Do I have to sit in his office and find something more important for him to do?

I have a feeling the employee in question is (or works for) the Director of Economic Development Gary Wilson. Considering most of the information placed on the Wikipedia page appears to be from Gary Wilson’s own county website (note that he has a link to www.foundersofamerica.org on his website, which is used as a source in the Wikipedia page).

UPDATE: Turns out that Gary Wilson is the Project Director of the www.foundersofamerica.org website (his administrative assistant, Cassie Ruby, is also an assistant on the website as well).

It also begs the question of why the county is paying $262,015 for Economic Development and the personnel there can’t find anything better to do than edit Wikipedia pages.

Nice to see where your money is going…

Can someone explain to me why the Caroline County Board of Supervisors decided to use proffer money, money that is required from housing developers for roads, schools, and public safety, on a visitor center?

$1,100,000 of money that is supposed to go to roads, schools, and public safety, and it goes to a visitor center? What the hell is going on here?

Meanwhile, fire/EMS and the sheriff’s office can’t get a public safety building and they’re told to “rehabilitate existing facilities”; with what money?

Things that $1,100,000 could have been spent on:

  • The pay for approximately twenty-two (22) full-time deputies or full-time fire/EMS personnel for one year.
  • The technology plan for schools for the next eleven years.
  • The technology plan for planning and community development with $108,866 left over.
  • A new animal shelter with $350,000 left over.
  • 78.57% of the money for renovations requested by the Frog Level Volunteer Fire Department/Rescue Squad.
  • 69.33% of the money for the structure and equipment for a Carmel Church Fire/Rescue Squad, including a fire truck, an ambulance, and equipment.
  • 27.5% of the money for a Public Safety Building, requested by Fire/EMS and the sheriff’s office.
  • 22.92% of the money for a new radio system requested by the sheriff’s office (it’s hard to do your job when your radio doesn’t work in half the county).
  • 5.34% for a new school in Bowling Green.
  • 5.09% for a Milford Elementary School.

But apparently, the Board of Supervisors and Percy Ashcraft have bigger concerns than the education and safety of the county’s residents.

Sources:
Percy Ashcraft’s Letter to the Editor
Proffers Fund for the 2007-2008 fiscal year budget


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