**Updated** Supervisor’s Budget Stance Raises Fiscal Responsibility Questions
This message was originally posted on February 20, 2019. Afterwards, Livingston Supervisor Greg Benton engaged the page to present additional information. Those exchanges can be found in full here by scrolling to February 20. However, out of respect for his outreach I copied some of those comments below. No other part of this message has been altered.
“I will comment a little further on the YMCA. The County still owns the land, we receive no real estate taxes from them, we charge them $1 for their lease yearly and they get an abundance of legal protections since the County still ownes the land. Although it is a 501c it is still run as a business as any should be. It is a gym. If they were asking for money for some of there special programs I would certainly entertain that but to use tax payer money to the tune of $200k on racket ball courts and the expansion of a weight room???? Plus they made no mention of any new employees in their presentation to the board. Lastly, almost all 501c requests go through the Social Services Advisory Board where a uniform "Ranking" is given to each 501c based on certain criteria (mostly how it helps the citizens within Spotsylvania County). The YMCA has bypassed this process and has been allowed to come directly before the board for their request.” - Livingston Supervisor Greg Benton.
Original message is below.
At the February 12th Board of Supervisors meeting, Livingston District Supervisor Benton strongly opposed County funds being used for new construction of a Germanna Community College building in Locust Grove and the expansion of the Ron Rosner Family YMCA of Spotsylvania County campus off Smith Station road. Mr. Benton made the claim that the YMCA was a private business, when in actuality it holds 501(c)(3) non-profit status. Additionally, Mr. Benton went as far as to insinuate he would not vote in favor of the FY2020 budget if County funds were used for these two initiatives.
Typically, I have been reluctant to engage when supervisors take principled stances, especially on issues involving budget matters. However, this stance was in such conflict with prior decisions and statements by Mr. Benton, I felt compelled to highlight them to our community.
During the February 12th Board meeting, Mr. Benton told a Civil War Trust representative that he could not support their proposal to purchase land behind the idX facility, because he wanted that land to be used for job creation. In 2017, on April 11, April 25, and September 26, Mr. Benton voted in favor of providing incentives to 4 private businesses to bring jobs to Spotsylvania County. This post is not intended to debate the pros and cons of tax incentives to businesses. However, I will point out that Germanna Community College provides 250-499 regional job opportunities and the YMCA provides 500-999, according to County provided budget data. It is reasonable to assume that these proposed initiatives will increase job opportunities for County residents and preserve employment for current County residents.
So the question is why is Mr. Benton taking such a stand now? Did Mr. Benton change his approach to these issues? If so, what led him to this change? Why is Mr. Benton seemingly holding private businesses to a different standard than community partners? I can only ask questions - only Mr. Benton knows the answers.
One thing is clear, Mr. Benton must explain this inconsistency in his application of fiscal responsibility or support these two proposed initiatives that are similar in nature to initiatives that he previously approved.