Thursday, October 9, 2008

The Fayette Alliance and Agri-business

I really wanted to keep politics out of my blog but I just can't help it this time. Within the last week I received an informational mailing from the Fayette Alliance with the answers of the Council candidates to a survey of their positions. A copy of the flyer can be read here.

Now, I like a candidate who will tell me just what he/she will do. I know that they won't or can't follow through on it, but I like to hear it. I also know that groups like the Fayette Alliance can craft their surveys to elicit responses that are positive for their own agendas. Its the way that the questions are worded that you just can't say no to it.

I was particularly intrigued by Cheryl Feigel's response to question #4. Her claim that Lexington's farm receipts should equal the Napa valley's is quite a boast. According to a report titled ECONOMIC IMPACT OF WINE AND VINEYARDS IN NAPA COUNTY the Napa valley received from the wine industry alone $836 million in taxes. Lexington, in the same year had a total farm cash receipt figure of $354 million. Furthermore, there were horse sales in Fayette County totaling $650 million and $0 taxes paid to the State or the County. When we add in the tourism tax dollars ($14,650,000) it appears to me that we come up a little short.

Then there is the second part of her thought, the justification of a Commissioner position for agriculture. Lexington started the current fiscal year with a projected shortfall of $25 million. Since then we found about $12-13 million in a "rainy day fund", but now the whole economy thing has caught up with us. I don't see how we can propose to expand local government at this time, especially when the current administration is working to reduce the existing workforce. A new commissioner position would easily incur a six figure salary. But my major question is (even if we could afford it) which of the current divisions/offices would come under this new commissioner's authority? PDR office is the the first to come to mind. A three person office, at the most, and I believe only one of those is full time. Maybe the office of Urban Forester but I really doubt that. Anybody have any ideas on this one?

Her opponent, Edward Norton III, does not strike me as the one to vote for either. The few times that I have seen him campaigning I hear buzz words and slogans and witty quips of nostalgia about Ashland Park, but no real ideas for solving the current problems of the 5th district. I don't think that either candidate has a grasp of the underlying severe problems that plague or will plague this city.

Lastly, I find fault with the Fayette Alliance, a well funded organization striving to be paid to not do what the Comprehensive Plan says that they aren't allowed to do in the first place. Their survey questions are worded cleverly to make it hard to disagree with all that we are (so they say) indebted to as a city.

I find it hard to call a winner in this election and feel the the 5th district and Lexington, as a whole, will be the loser. OK, thats all for politics, until... maybe next year.

No comments: