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Sunday, June 30, 2013
Basil Akers’ June 21 letter, “Much ado about nothing,” advocates a Leviathan concept of government, thinking this will “get rid of all the waste.”
“Consolidation” is a word frequently used here without examining the harmful consequences of hostile annexation.
Experience shows that small, local governments are responsive because it is possible to watch them in detail; large, merged governments can hide their misdeeds.
Akers ignores the constant downsizing American governments have undergone with President Ronald Reagan and since.
Each newly elected genius thinks that a 7 percent reduction across the board is nothing — but it is cumulative.
I feel the likely result is, as stated by Mark E. Petersen (“No hope for revival in Southeast,” Pick of the day, Jan. 20, 2012): “Southeast [Roanoke] is treated with disdain. . . . Code enforcement has become a joke. . . . Public drunkenness and trespass is a daily occurrence. My advice . . . engage in the profitable business of being a slumlord.” And we’re better than Asheville?
The annexations of 1882, 1926, 1943 and 1949 probably served the purposes annexation was created to address: water, sewer, education, etc.
However, America changed into the welfare state, and financial practices grew lax.
Money was thrown at “the disadvantaged,” and budgets grew tight. So governments resorted, not to prioritizing, but to hostile annexations of prosperous county areas next door.
Roanoke city annexed Hollins, Mecca Gardens, Ridgewood Park, Southern Hills and Wildwood — all in 1976 alone.
Salem was afraid it would be annexed, so it became a city on Dec. 31, 1967. Belts ought to be tightened and exhaustive audits undertaken and openly revealed to residents before considering annexation.
Cities should not be rewarded for unrealistic, grandiose over-reaches or attempts to “finance out.” Fortunately for Virginia, former Del. Richard Cranwell secured passage of a moratorium on hostile annexation, and after 1980, developed counties could request immunity from annexation.
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