2013-04-24 / Opinions


Taxpayers shouldn’t have to subsidize a senior center

I am writing in response to your April 10 article, “Commission recommends funding senior center.” This article detailed various funding issues associated with a Chesterfield County senior center and noted many seniors believe the current space leased by Chesterfield County is inadequate to meet the needs of a growing senior population. Also mentioned was a possible long-term solution in the form of a future bond referendum as additional funding for a new senior center.

Not being a senior citizen myself, I decided to use the Internet to find out what exactly a senior center offers and what programs our tax dollars support. I found information about Chesterfield’s current programs from the county’s website, An introduction concerning programs for seniors reads: “Older Adult programs are designed to meet the recreational and leisure needs for adults 50 and over.”

Intrigued, I decided to explore the county’s website a little further. What programs are of critical need to our seniors?

According to the published program guide, I found the following: tennis, basketball, Wii bowling, volleyball, golf, badminton, aerobics, line dancing, pickleball (don’t be ashamed, I don’t know exactly what a pickleball is either); a walking club, watercoloring, drawing lessons, and a class titled “Learning to love your digital camera.” There were many other such programs listed.

It struck me that I have performed many of these same leisure activities as a child and as an adult in my own yard or den, including with friends. Why don’t seniors consider the same approach and save all taxpayers money?

In these tough economic times, must all county citizens really pay higher taxes to subsidize the recreational and leisure needs of one segment of society? It is well-known that those over age 50 have generally accumulated more wealth than younger citizens.

They often have already paid off a house and have minimal overall expenses. With no need to work, they apparently fill their idle time with hobbies like line-dancing and watercoloring.

Must I explain to my children that I will have less money to save for their education, and they will likely pay higher taxes in the future as adults, based on our current generation taking on higher taxes and borrowing money, so well-to-do seniors will have a place to play badminton and pickelball?

It is time we stop subsidizing the hobbies and recreational pursuits of others and get government back to providing basic essential services.

Clayton W. Rhoades

County should end cash proffers now

It is hard to understand why the Chesterfield Board of Supervisors has not eliminated the cash proffers system. A study committee has been put in place to study the problem, but will they come up with real recommendations or solutions? Or will the Board of Supervisors find another reason to keep these regressive taxes in place?

The cash proffers are a tax that has been negatively impacting our community, and the prolonged recession has brought our real estate industry to a complete stop. Proffer taxes only make a fraction of the budget for the county anyway. The sad reality is that placing this tax, which continuously goes up year after year, on land that is not going to be developed because the taxes are too high means that the county will never see that revenue.

There has to be a better way for the county to support schools and roads. One thing is for sure, it’s time for a change. End the cash proffers now.

Elizabeth Johnson

There is no question that there is broad community support to eliminate cash proffers in Chesterfield County. The variety of businesses, large and small, that have come out against proffers in recent months is a sign that the time has come for the Board of Supervisors to leave this outdated system behind and move Chesterfield’s economy forward.

As an insurance agent for small businesses, including contractors, I see the effects that cash proffers are having on the economy every day. This is the primary reason I decided to become a part of Citizens Against Proffer Taxes and work as the coalition’s spokeswoman.

Plain and simple, the cash proffer system is broken and has become a counterproductive county policy, stifling development and economic growth in Chesterfield. The cash proffers system was implemented over two decades ago during the growth boom in Chesterfield. It was used to pay for significant new infrastructure such as schools, roads, parks, and libraries that are necessary with such a large population increase.

While Chesterfield is still growing, the challenges facing the county are much different now than they were 20 years ago. Chesterfield does not need new schools, but rather maintenance for the existing facilities and roads. However, state law prohibits cash proffers from being used for maintenance and the infrastructure capacity already exists in many parts of Chesterfield to handle new residential development without straining those resources.

Cash proffers have proven so costly that they are hindering new development on lots subject to proffers. A recent article in this publication demonstrates this point: While Chesterfield has seen an increase in building permits, that increase is weighted heavily to lots without proffers.

Two subdivisions listed in the article, Magnolia Green and Harpers Mill, are directly across from one another and illustrate the disparity created by proffers. Magnolia Green has no cash proffers and obtained nearly three times as many permits as Harpers Mill, which has cash proffers. The fact is a large portion of the new home construction taking place right now is on lots that are not burdened by cash proffers. We are in for a rude awakening when the lots with no proffers are completely developed and proffered lots are too expensive to build on.

New residential home construction is one of the most powerful economic drivers for the economy. It creates jobs, both directly and indirectly, and expands the economic base of the county immediately. This in turn generates revenue for the county that can be used for revitalization and refurbishment of resources. The outdated cash proffer system is a roadblock to meaningful and significant growth in the County. Citizens Against Proffer Taxes believes that the time is now to remove the burden of cash proffers and get the Chesterfield economy moving again.

Brandy Nickel,

In defense of the Grange Hall PTA president

In the Observer’s April 3 letters, Leslie Hailey wrote to express her concern about the Grange Hall PTA leadership.

One would assume that her concerns came firsthand – that she had children at the school. But this is not the case. I suspect she’s never even had a conversation with the PTA president. Nor do I believe she was at the meeting in question. How is that democracy? Sounds more like politics to me.

So, as a college student, and former student of the school who has a brother in elementary school and a mother who is very dedicated to education, I’ll share my opinion.

The PTA president, Mrs. [Paige] Schultz, is the one person I can never say no to when asked if I would lend a hand for an event. I have volunteered for her frequently. In fact, she is so kind and professional that I find myself recruiting my friends, too.

Mrs. Shultz has never been short on those who would say that her heart is two sizes too big. She’s known to be a grizzly Mom for all the kids at that school – they truly come first. The PTA has spoken out and shared information on an issue that is of great concern to the residents and their kids. The community has never been offered an opportunity to present at meetings and when a meeting was scheduled at [its] school a year ago, the business didn’t even notify the school, the PTA, or the community that they would be presenting. There was a reason for this lack of respect on the part [of the business] – money.

To the suggestion that the PTA president didn’t live up to acceptable county standards: Her son was just named student of the year. I assure you that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree!

William Houston

What Congressman Forbes should be worried about

As a Marine veteran, I found the Rep. Randy Forbes interview (April 3) to be disturbing. He should be trying to streamline our forces, improve our intelligence-gathering capability or investigating why it takes more than a year to process my wounded comrade’s VA claims.

Instead, he is counting Chinese submarines, which are about as important to national defense as worrying about how many Star Destroyers Darth Vader has in his Imperial fleet.

Why? A quick search of public election records ( reveals that the following industries were among Forbes’ top five campaign contributors in the last election cycle: miscellaneous defense, defense electronics and defense aerospace.

If Forbes explained that he has defense jobs in his district, that might make some sense. The threat of war with China in our global and interdependent economy is laughable. But Forbes and his big defense industry stooges are the only ones laughing…. all the way to the bank. Big, expensive (and sometimes useless) weapon systems get the congressional dollars while basic gear for the troops in the field gets neglected.

I have seen $40 million aircraft drop a GPS-guided bomb onto a target the size of Fiat. Shortly afterward, my Marines and I hiked away from the target area wearing broken and shoddy backpacks because a vehicle was down do to lack of spare parts.

Northrop has lobbyists. My platoon didn’t.

While Forbes and his buddies want to build massive platforms to counter the dreaded red menace, let me remind him that we might want to look at intelligence-gathering instead. We invaded Iraq on false pretenses and took 10 years to catch our mortal enemy while he hid in a massive complex in the middle of an allied city.

Members of the United States Congress are little more than prostitutes for the orgy of spending that has been exacerbated by the Supreme Court’s Citizen United decision.

According to the Center for Responsive Politics, 79 percent of those who have left Congress since 1998 have become lobbyists. Elected officials are there to serve their nation – not cash in. Capitalism is a fine economic system but it is not a political system.

This has to stop.

Money in politics is undermining our election process and the republic as a whole. The press must help jar America awake on this issue. We need to get up and get mad before our votes lose all meaning.

Politicians are coin-operated beings. It would be nice to know what industries and special interests we are actually voting for.

Clay Cutchins

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