Why I Believe in Middleburg. As the election for Mayor draws near I am reminded of how far Middleburg has come. I have seen a lot of change since I was a kid. I remember the B&A and Mrs. Edwards giving me root beer for free, I remember riding my big wheel down Lincoln Road, I remember when the only pizza in town was at the Café La Rat, and I remember the brown water that came out of our faucet. Now as a Councilmember I have come to understand these hard issues and how we must face them for our collective future. We have a choice to make, one where we can continue fixing problems of the past, make todays Middleburg better, and plan for our future.
Clean water and safe sewers are vital to our health. They are the town services that touches us every hour of every day. Having a safe, modern utility system is incredibly complex and essential and it requires adequate, sustained investment: This year our utilities will cost $2m dollars to operate and maintain, yet the bills we all pay will only provide $1.3m dollars of the money needed. The remaining balance of nearly $700,000 will come from saved reserves and borrowed from other taxes, subsidizing almost 30% of the cost. In addition, we have $4.4m dollars of debt on our utility system and $3m dollars of critical improvement upgrades to do over the next 5 years. This all costs money. We all want lower water bills, but we must understand the full and long-term impacts. We have all seen the tragic story of Flint, Michigan and they are a recent example of what happens when government fails to properly fund and maintain its water system. Before we haphazardly lower our rates, we must understand what it will mean to Middleburg’s complete financial future, as you see it is all connected.
Candidates and politicians often talk about fiscal responsibility, but few practice it. I strongly believe one of the most important roles of government is to help citizens when times are toughest. This requires us to look ahead, plan and save. Middleburg has been the benefactor of Salamander, the Red Fox and our growing luxury and service tourism economy. This has boosted the town and significantly increased our revenues. Over 60% of Town revenues now come from our tourism sector, up from just 25% in the 1990’s. While an advantage in a strong economy, we must be ready for the next downturn, it will come. In the great recession the luxury tourism and hotel industry dropped by nearly 50%. Our deep reliance upon this industry is concerning in a downturn, and when it happens will but significant strain on our budgets. Now is the time to save by raising our rainy-day fund reserves from 20% of budget to 100%. This step will protect us when times get tough and the town will then be able to ease the tax burden on citizens, fully pay for our utility system with less revenues and continue to provide community services. We must save today to be ready for tomorrow. Our financial prudence through the good times and bad is key to sustaining our ability to maintain and improve services to our citizens and businesses.
As always, thank you for your time and trust. I look forward to continuing to serve our community. Please contact me if you would like more information on these issues. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 571-276-7730 and visit www.bridgeformiddleburg.com and follow on Facebook. Thank you for your support and your vote on May 1st.