Stephen Clinton shares his annual letter to the Board of Supervisors.
Dear Fellow Board Members:
Thank you for allowing me to serve as board chairman once again. It is a pleasure working with each of you, and with our county administration.
The Code of Virginia bestows upon the chairman only two duties: presiding at board meetings, and representing the county at official functions. Nonetheless, as I did last year at this time, I will put modesty aside and offer a few thoughts on ways that we might confront the challenges to come in 2013.
My context is broad and not specific. It is policy-based and values-based, not action-based. Specific actions will come from the board as a whole, from the strategic plan now underway, and from the advice of county administration. The thoughts expressed here, however, may help to encourage and channel those actions.
Like localities across the commonwealth, we confront an environment characterized by local revenues that are flat, state and federal policies that are unhelpful, and a national economic recovery that remains embryonic and uncertain. Thus, 2013 will be another year of restraint and limitations, calling for judiciousness in spending, despite growing needs.
Unlike many localities, our fundamentals are strong, our natural and manmade resources are exceptional, our county administration is superior, and our demographics are enviable. The board’s task is to cultivate these favorable circumstances in a way that fosters future prosperity at the same time that it preserves financial reserves.
We can begin by actively supporting the business community – existing as well as prospective. Creating surroundings that are inviting to business is the best path to a robust local economy, and thus to a more diversified revenue base and greater opportunities for our citizens. This need not be a costly endeavor. It is mostly about minimizing barriers and maximizing understanding. It is a principle that offers immediate and lasting dividends.
Increasingly, Botetourt is a recognized destination for tournament sports, outdoor recreation, music venues, and history and heritage awareness. Despite limited financial resources, we must exploit this growing reputation. One way to do this is to consider public private partnerships in the promotion, management, and expansion of selected recreational assets. Such an approach can leverage our financial resources, and multiply our visibility.
Botetourt stands apart in the quality of its primary and secondary education system. We can do even better if we strengthen the already-effective relationship between the board of supervisors and the school board. More regular dialogue between individual members of each board, more mutual transparency, and improved long range planning are in order. This should start with this year’s budget process.
A governing body should always be mindful of the interconnectedness of things that make up the fabric of the community – private enterprise, education, recreation, public safety, and so on. Physically, the connective tissue is infrastructure, including transportation, water and sewer, and communications. The current period gives us time to prioritize infrastructure needs, including water and sewer expansion along the I-81 corridor, sensible redevelopment at Exit 150, and expanded broadband availability. We should come out of 2013 with clear and explicit plans for each of these imperatives.
The British mathematician Alfred North Whitehead described an earlier period of history as a time when “familiar patterns fade and familiars options foreclose.” Such has been the case for local governments across the nation for several years. It is no different for Botetourt. What will make it different for us is the extent to which we are able to find innovative solutions to issues that are no longer susceptible to traditional thinking.
Together, this board and this administration are well equipped to do this. Thus, let us proceed. I look forward personally to being a part of the journey, and to contributing to the solutions.
Very truly yours,
Stephen P. Clinton
Chairman, Board of Supervisors
Submitted by Stephen Clinton, Chairman, Board of Supervisors