May 6, 2012
Christiansburg, VA, Citizen Participation, Economic Development, Education, Local Government, Your Tax Money
Christiansburg, city, council, economics, elect, Finance, School, town, VA
It came as a bit of a surprise at the end of the May 1st Town Council Meeting when Councilmember Steve Huppert requested that the Town Council again look at moving their meeting dates so that they do not conflict with the Montgomery County School Board.
I’ve been supporting this move for some time now. It has become even more important to me now that the Town of Christiansburg is making it’s own videos of meetings. You see, I’ve got this camera that for several years now I’ve been using to record Christiansburg Town Council Meetings. It’s gathering dust. I haven’t figured out how to be 2 places at one time, but I would love to be able to provide for the Montgomery County School Board what I provided for the Town of Christiansburg, citizen recorded public meetings of the School Board posted online to share with the public. The decisions made by the School Board AND their discussions/deliberations are just too darned important not to provide access to citizens. If the Town of Christiansburg moves it’s meetings to another date, it will mean that I lose more nights of prime-time TV (like I have time to watch that anyway), but it would give me a wonderful opportunity to learn more about the School Board and to be able to share that information here.
Then, came an even bigger surprise when Councilmember Cord Hall asked that it be put on the agenda of the next meeting to begin discussions of the Town of Christiansburg moving to City status. Wow! I’ve heard this discussed previously and I had been against such a move. However, now that I’ve had some time to really look at a LOT of budget numbers for a lot of different jurisdictions, I’m no longer sure that this is not the best move that Christiansburg could make. Christiansburg is growing and even in this “down” economy, continues to grow. Christiansburg has a tremendous retail base for which the taxes are now directed to the County School System.
Christiansburg also has superb resources in the Recreation Center and Aquatic Center that could be used with a City School system and we could become the home of future Olympic Champions!!! Christiansburg citizens already take great pride in the schools located within it’s boundary even though those schools are part of the Montgomery County School System. How much greater would that pride be in a situation where they were truly Christiansburg Schools!
Christiansburg citizens would have control over their schools! They would have their own School Board, and we know how to use our votes to get the biggest bang for our voting “buck”. We would have to have our own library. Maybe one with more computers and greater public usage? It would be responsible to the citizens of Christiansburg, not to the whims of the County.
Perhaps more importantly, our elected officials would have more control over services. We’re already “donating” money to social services, the library, and other such services. There is grant money and other resources available to Cities that is not available to Towns.
But, all this really means is that an honest and true cost-benefit analysis would need to be done. It would need to be done without any bias and, for me, that means contacting the Weldon Cooper Center (Economic and Policy Studies section). This is not a decision to be taken lightly, nor is it one to be discounted out of fear of the unknown. I hope Town Council will take a serious look at this, but as far as I can see, with the research that I’ve managed to do, Christiansburg is in the perfect spot to go to City Status. All of those jurisdictions who have dropped or are planning to drop back from City to Town status have not had the retail network that Christiansburg has (with more to come) developed. We’ve got it and we should maximize the use of it by keeping that money here.
January 24, 2010
delegates, Education, Finance, literacy, schools, sol, VA, Virginia
It is easy to blame Wall Street for all our financial woes. But what did they really do? They violated trust. People trusted those businesses to ‘do the right thing’ … people trusted them so much that they gave up a lot of control and power to them and just let them (big financial institutions) take care of things. More
July 24, 2009
Citizen Participation, FOIA, Your Tax Money
Christiansburg, Finance, manager, negotiated, rfp, software, tax, town, VA, waste
On October 4, 2005, the Town Council of Christiansburg, VA, heard a tear jerker of an appeal from Town Manager Lance Terpenny. The Town Manager put forth a request for a budget amendment for New and Improved fancy Finance Software. According to the report, over the course of 3 years, 3 different RFP’s for Utility/Financial/Information Management Software were posted. It was not until the 3rd attempt (3 years of waiting?) before some responses came in that qualified for review. A committee of selected Town Staff and the Town’s computer consultants reviewed the applicants and recommended Cogsdale Corporation provide the Town with the needed software. The software was to allow for communication between departments, helping with delinquent tax payments and greatly increasing the efficiency of each department. UNFORTUNATELY, the $200,000 set aside in the Budget for this acquisition fell short of the mark. Manager Terpenny requested an additional $160,090.00 for a full negotiated price of $360,090. The negotiated cost included the software, installation, training, and support. Administration Officer, Scot Shippee, commented that this is a leased software program and updates and maintenance will cost approximately $30,000 per year. It was noted by the Town Manager that this does not require a Public Hearing, but does require two readings.
On October 18, 2005, the Town Council revisited this matter:
COUNCIL ACTION ON BUDGET AMENDMENT FOR FINANCE SOFTWARE. Town Manager Terpenny briefed Council on this matter discussed at the October 4, 2005 meeting. He added that this software would also allow the Town to accept credit card payments, and make electronic direct deposits for employees. Councilman Ashworth made a motion to approve tlie budget amendment to allow the purchase of the finance software. Councilman Barber seconded the motion and Council voted as follows: AYES: Ashworth. Ballengee, Barber, Carter, Huppert, and Wade. NAYS: None.
Okay…so the Town has this super duper software package that it has leased for $360,090 that is suppose to make like wonderful, yet I hear the Mayor say it is too complex to give a report that is any more complex than this amount went to this person/company (without any explanation of what it is for????). What in the heck????
And just exactly how much of that total cost and the ongoing annual fees of $30,000 per year were wasted on a system to accept credit card payments that almost 4 years later has not been implemented?
There, Mr., Mrs, or Ms. taxpayer you now have a prime example of your tax money at work. As you’re thinking about that remember that it was the Town Council’s role to approve or disapprove based upon the recommendations of the Town Manager. It was the Town Manager’s role to see that the entire system was implemented. Heck! Maybe the Town Manager will get another raise this year because he is so efficient and necessary. Guess we’ll find out when his contract come up for renewal in September.
I don’t doubt the vendor’s product was well worth the price. But, why in the heck use other people’s money to by a Mercedes when a Ford (or a bus token!!!) would work as well??? I sure hope to goodness this new finance officer can get the most back for taxpayer buck out of the program. Of course, I’ve heard a rumor that she is quite adept at establishing her own programs at…duh…no extra cost to taxpayers!!!!