In a recent editorial found in The Burgs, posted May 20, 2012 “A city of Christiansburg isn’t a crazy idea” pretty well summed up some of the most recent issues hitting the rumor mill in Christianburg. Specifically:
- Moving Christiansburg Council Meetings so that they do not conflict with Montgomery County School Board Meetings.
- City status for Christiansburg
Since I was at that meeting (and the one before when the ideas were first introduced), I’ve had a good bit of time to review things. Suffice it to say that I have a few opinions on these issues. The most important thing that I noted was the direct relationships between those two issues.
Moving of Christiansburg Council Meetings
I think it would be nice, but not necessary. In the past, before Christiansburg Town Council started providing video recordings of their meetings and when Public Hearings were often held on the same night as the proposal was voted in, this would have been a fine idea. Now days the meetings are spread out and the public has access to video files (hopefully these will also be available on TV since that was part of the agreement with the cable company that got permission to move into Christiansburg to provide service … the same cable company that I dropped when within the first 3 months they did what they said they would not do and raised rates).
City Status for Christiansburg
I think it is time, if not past time, to start taking a realistic look at this as an option. Christiansburg carries the bulk of the retail revenues for the entire county and then ends up sharing that money with other jurisdictions. Christiansburg residents have very little to say about how that money is used because of the way in which voting districts are established in Montgomery County. In short, Christiansburg does not have fair representation on either the Board of Supervisors or the School Boards for Montgomery County.
In large part, this is due to the gross distortion in population created by Virginia Tech students. Blacksburg has the strongest voice in both of those elected bodies. Since Tech students rarely get involved in the activities of the School Board or Board of Supervisors, this means that the non-student base of Blacksburg residents are in a position to drive the decisions of both Boards. If you look at the true numbers of residents of Blacksburg and Christiansburg, you’ll find that Christiansburg’s population is actually higher than Blacksburg’s. So, just how well are the interests of Christiansburg citizens represented?
- Bloomberg Businessweek, Nov 15, 2012, Virginia Town is Best Place in the U.S. to Raise Kids (speaking of Blacksburg)
- Opening sentence: “More than half the population of Blacksburg, Va., is Virginia Tech students, ” (pop. shown as 41,383)
- 1st paragraph of section EDUCATED MIDDLE CLASS: Blacksburg’s large university population brings its median age to a low 22 years, but the town is also home to thousands of families. About one-third of households are family households, including 13.3 percent that have children under age 18, according to 2010 Census data.
Wow! Blacksburg’s looking pretty good there! But, at whose expense? Let’s look at some data from the U.S. Census Bureau.
|Persons under 5 years, percent, 2010||7.40%||2.50%||4.70%||6.40%|
|Persons under 18 years, percent, 2010||23.10%||8.30%||16.00%||23.20%|
|Business Quick Facts||Christiansburg||Blacksburg||Montgomery County||Virginia|
|Manufacturers shipments, 2007 ($1000)||394901||“suppressed to avoid disclosure of confidential information||838137||92417797|
|Merchant wholesaler sales, 2007 ($1000)||49706||20669||97297||60513396|
|Retail sales, 2007 ($1000)||746109||212386||1102647||105663299|
|Retail sales per capita, 2007||$39,004.00||$5,114.00||$12,350.00||$13,687.00|
|Accommodation and food services sales, 2007 ($1000)||87036||57511||148286||15340483|
Based upon these numbers, it appears that Blacksburg is the largest contributor of the population. True, but are they the largest contributor of long-term residents, those people who have a vested interest in their community for years to come? Nope.
Christiansburg clearly holds the majority of pre-school and school-aged individuals in the area, yet Christiansburg residents have only one single dedicated voice representing them on the School Board.
Christiansburg clearly represents the major sources of revenues from sales, accommodations, and food services. Yet, again, has the smallest voices on the Board of Supervisors and on School Board.
Along with all of those sales and other revenues generated, the Town of Christianburg ends up picking up a lot of costs. Citizens of Christiansburg end up picking up the tab for extra law enforcement, fire, rescue, infrastructure, and more. Yet, they have the least amount of representation at the County level.
I think I’m picking up on a pattern here. How about you?
It is past time for Christiansburg citizens to demand fair representation. Redistricting is over and done for the next 10 years. But, this is not something new. This has been an ongoing pattern.
The fact that Christianburg Town Council Meetings were set before the School Board existed, and yet, the decision was made to set School Board meetings directly opposite Blacksburg Council Meetings, pretty much tells the story as far as I’m concerned. We wouldn’t want those Blacksburg residents to miss out on anything important, so let’s make sure they can come and Christianburg can just deal with things.
The fact that the School Board does not provide videos of it’s meetings tells another big story to me. The only reason for not having those meetings broadcast to the public would be because they want to keep the tight control and limit access. I have heard multiple rumors that the County has offered to record those meetings for them, but the School Board are refused the offer. I will be looking for an official statement on this following an email going out today.
Oh, I’m sure I’ve stepped on some toes with this article. But, what’s fair is fair. I’ve never let fear of condemnation by others stop me from having my say and I’m too darned old to change my ways now.
Christiansburg residents: Town Council is starting to look at the process of becoming a City. Becoming a City could mean some extra headaches, but it could also mean that YOU, the residents of Christiansburg, would have a much stronger voice and control in your government. YOU would have more control over your schools and would have a higher degree of holding people accountable.
Blacksburg Town Council and residents have done a great job of getting what Blacksburg wants, and that is exactly what they should be doing.
However, Christiansburg needs an equal voice and it is time for that voice to be found and to discover its power. Now that Christiansburg is providing videos of their meetings, I can start attending the School Board meetings. I should be able to find out a lot of information. But first, I need to review the state codes to see exactly what documents I might want to request. Or, maybe I can do that later during the process. Maybe I’ll see you at the next and future School Board Meetings.