Pittsylvania County Administrator poses question to cut funding to favorable resources

The Pittsylvania County Public Library created these flyers and a petition asking people to save the library after County Administrator David Smitherman posed a question. (@CourtnyJodonTV)

PITTSYLVANIA COUNTY, Va. (WSET) -- The Pittsylvania County Administrator is mulling some tough options as the county struggles to close $6 million of debt.

In County Administrator David Smitherman's weekly County Connection post online on January 10th, he posed a question that is raising some eyebrows.

"We could eliminate the Recreation, Library, and Human Resources departments and end the School Resource Officer program to close about half of the gap - $3 million," Smitherman said in his article.

"The reason it was communicated that way is to illustrate that the choices are extremely hard and if we want excellent services and we want recreation and we want school resource officers, we've gotta pay for them," Smitherman said in a phone interview Tuesday evening.

He said he would never propose to end any of those resources. "But the point was even if we got rid of those it still wouldn't be enough to cover the funding gap that we are facing currently," Smitherman said.

He said the county was pushed into dept in 2008 when the four high schools in the county were being renovated and taxes were not raised to pay for the renovations.

Lisa Tuite is the Director of the Pittsylvania County Public Library. Tuite and the Pittsylvania County Public Library created flyers and a petition asking people to save the library.

"If people don't say no, don't do that, we value those things then you leave yourself in a position where they can say well no one complained, maybe we could save money by closing the library, no one seems to care."

The petitions are at each of the county's libraries if you wish to sign one.

There are three critical areas the county is making a priority to take care of, according to Smitherman. He said they need to take care of the underfunded volunteer fire and rescue services, paying for the school bond debt and making sure the county's landfill operations are sustainable.

"We as a county are going to be facing some tough, tough choices," Tuite said. "It's hard to imagine how we are going to get out of this crist that we find ourselves in without increasing taxes."

So the question is, could there be a tax increase?

"There's no doubt in my mind that I will be proposing a tax increase," Smitherman said.

Smitherman said he will be proposing this increase February 27th at the Board of Supervisors Finance Committee meeting. It is open to the public.

He said a tax increase will be the thing that saves all of the resources that could potentially be on the chopping block.

We asked library patron Theresa Fitzgerald if she would be for an increase in taxes to save the library.

"I mean, it would be alright because, you know, we make money, we pay taxes, that's just the way of life, but yeah I wouldn't have a problem with paying extra taxes," Fitzgerald said.

She said she uses the library every day, "I don't know what I would do without the library not being here. It's a great resource."

Tuite is asking you to call your local district supervisor and let them know how you feel about these resources possibly up to be cut from the county's budget.

Tuite said she will be at the next Pittsylvania County Board of Supervisors meeting February 20th to voice her opinions and urges you to do the same.

The meeting will take place at 7 p.m. in the Pittsylvania Court General District Courtroom Edwin R. Shields Courthouse Addition.

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