Have Forensic Audits conducted on all County, EDA, Public Utilities, School System and School Activities Fund finances as far back in time as allowed by law.
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It is incredible that in Gloucester Comprehensive plan, education is not included. Nowadays, the quality of schools is a major factor for people deciding where to live. For example, Gloucester High school ranking is very low compared to other high schools in the region. Also it is super populated. Why there is not a survey to ask, it will be good for the County to have 2 high schools? What is the way to increase the quality of our high school?, etc.
Rush hour traffic coming down from Edge Hill, down past the Main Street Center shopping area is going much faster than the posted 35 mph. This is a safety hazard and should be monitored and restored to the posted speed limit.
14W at Ware Academy posted speed limit is 55, coming up over the rise down past Crab Thicket road has become a race to main street. Speeds in excess of 55 are common. Posting to 45 mph may alleviate the need for a stop light in the future. Crossing the road to make left turns to the 14E to Mathews lane are almost impossible at peak hours. Drivers use the turn onto 14E as a take off ramp disregarding any possibility of traffic coming out of the Movie house and bowling center parking area. Increasing speeds to 65 or 70 rather and 55 seems to be the rule of thumb for drivers in this area.
A public hearing on Commonwealth driven changes to Gloucester’s procurement (purchasing) ordinance is scheduled for October 6th at 7:30PM. At that time the People of Gloucester County and our elected leaders will have the opportunity to consider and discuss removing the words “and set forth in writing” and “The writing shall document the basis for this determination” from the following section on methods of procurement.
(c) Upon a determination made in advance by the purchasing manager and set forth in writing that competitive sealed bidding is either not practicable or not fiscally advantageous to the public, goods, services, or insurance may be procured by competitive negotiation. The writing shall document the basis for this determination.
In my opinion there should be concern anytime a requirement to document the People’s business is eradicated or circumvented. Therefore it is further my opinion that a local ordinance or policy should be created requiring the implementation of an internet accessible archive of all procurement documents that are releasable under the Freedom of Information Act.
Start a policy that makes Board member decisions more ethical. Basically if a proposal doesn't help at least 25% of the County population or 25% of Business in our County we don't need to spend the money. Then stupid ideas like spending 1.2 million dollars for 360 people to have broadband wouldn't even need to be discussed.
I called the County a few months ago about disposing of some stale gas I had. I called the Clean Community phone number listed. I was told perhaps I could burn the gas to get rid of it?! I commented that was unsafe, and then the representative stated that I was correct. Other localities have chemical collection more often. When renegotiating the contract, please have more chemical collections available. Thank you!
Public libraries are a key element in promoting literacy and intellect, building a community and providing free and open access to a vast amount of information the public would otherwise face challenge and expense in obtaining. Gloucester currently has two public libraries where the community may access only a small portion of information actually available. The quantity of information contained in public libraries is highly dependent on local community financial investment. Upon glancing at the amount of money Gloucester annually invests in our public libraries, it is evident their importance to the community is realized by our elected leaders. Unfortunately upon a closer look at how the money is actually spent it becomes clearly evident the taxpayers are getting very little return on their investment. In fact, we are throwing away several million dollars to lease library spaces instead of owning them.
This year the Board of Supervisors (BOS) budgeted $996,982 to operate our two public libraries. $577,630 is for salaries and benefits and $253,226 for rent, leaving only $166,126 for library operations. The larger of our two libraries is located in the Main Street Center and owned by the Gloucester Main Street Preservation Trust (GMSPT). Rental of this 24,000 square foot library space initially began in 2004 for a period of 10 years, with four five year renewal options for up to a total of 30 years. The BOS renewed the lease for five more years in 2013 which became effective in 2014. This year we will pay the GMSPT approximately $190,000 in lease associated payments to rent the library and among other things, to pay 23% of the property tax charged on the entire Main Street Center. Our second library, located in the York River Crossing Shopping Center, is rented to Gloucester under a similar lease agreement. This year the People will pay approximately $63,000 in lease associated payments for this 3,916 square ft. library space.
Should Gloucester continue leasing the Main Street library for the full 30 years, the taxpayers will have paid the GMSPT close to $6 million in rent. A new 24,000 square foot library constructed at $2.50 per square ft. would cost the taxpayers approximately $6 million and would convert the annual rent obligation from $190,000, to an annual library capital improvement fund contribution of approximately $50,000; rendering an eventual annual savings of at least $140,000. Similar, but smaller scale results could also be realized by constructing a second library instead of continuing to rent. Over the years Gloucester’s administration and elected leaders have made some deals and decisions that have proven to be contrary to the long term financial interests of the overall community. Just think, if the earlier decision makers had truly acted in the community’s best interest, they would have built a new library and the benefits and savings of such would be enjoyed financially stress free today. Unfortunately, we now appear to be locked into a designed financial cycle that will be very hard to break without a significant cash windfall, as we currently cannot afford to rent and build a new library at the same time. The current BOS has an obligation to address this issue and initiate a process that will result in construction of the larger of two new libraries within the next six years, with construction of a satellite branch beginning not far behind. Hopefully the current BOS becomes the Board that did what was best for the entire Gloucester community; otherwise we will just keep paying more for library rent than for information quantity and quality.
The Gloucester Board of Supervisors and School Board now have an opportunity to begin a process of consolidating certain functions that would result in considerable annual savings and streamlined operations. Currently, the school system has openings for a finance director and a human resources director. Instead of hiring two new directors, all school system financial and human resources functions, personnel and equipment should be transferred to the county finance and human resources departments. Consolidating these two areas alone would save approximately $243,000 annually in salaries and benefits alone.
The county needs a new vehicle maintenance garage and the school system needs to upgrade and expand its’ bus garage. All vehicle and equipment repair and maintenance activities should be consolidated at the bus garage property under the control of the school system. This would allow the school system to retain 100% control over the bus fleet which is essential to school system operations. It will also allow the county to sell the current garage property at Providence Road as suggested by Mr. Curry during the September 1st BOS meeting. All public works type functions, employees and equipment should be consolidated at the old Page site under the county’s control. Consolidating these areas will also produce considerable annual savings in salaries and benefits
The public utilities department “desperately” needs a new office and storage yard. Money was borrowed to purchase land and to design and construct them. Part of the money was spent on design work and a parcel of land was found, but the BOS froze the project over the land purchase aspects. The Board wanted to know if suitable property was already owned by the county or school system. It was determined that the old Page property and the new Page property are the only suitable properties. Construction of utilities’ office and yard should occur at the old Page property as the first phase of consolidating all public works type functions. A strip mall type office building should be constructed in phases along the alignment of the old school building and extending as long as necessary to provide office space for utilities, public works, buildings and grounds maintenance and any other appropriate public works type services.
Consolidation on the old Page property does not seem to appeal to those who have been set, since the tornado, on seeing the property sold. The interests of a few should never take priority over that which is in the best interest of the citizenry overall. Our public works type infrastructure is and has been in need of serious attention for many years and now is the most opportune time to render that attention through restorative and fiscally responsible action. The money saved and generated from the suggested consolidations could be used for associated construction costs and improving our school system. Growth in Gloucester will continue to be severely restricted as long as the toll remains on the Coleman Bridge and history demonstrates business growth in Gloucester occurs only as fast as the population grows. The only real way to spur growth under the current conditions is by making it worth while and attractive to live in Gloucester. The best way to do that is by developing a good county appearance and reputation and developing the “best” public school system. Consolidating the suggested services would be a step in the right direction, as it will ultimately free up funds that can be better invested in making our public schools the best in the Country. If our public schools are the best to choose from, people and businesses will come to Gloucester despite the toll.
For trash sites a hard plastc rearview mirror type card to use at the trash convience sites. This way if my nephew volunteers to take the garbage in his truck he can. Then the next weekend I have friends that are borrowing our home on the water, they can dispose of the trash. Then I let someone rent out (not lease) for a month they have the placard to use. Charge $5.00 for every card you want. I own the home in Gloucester, pay property taxes but have friends and relatives that enjoy Gloucester and don't want to leave their trash for me to take to the dump next time I get there.