Taxation Without Representation,” Emporia Harris Councilman Proclaims | New

It may have seemed odd to some when Emporia Councilman Woody Harris said he would vote against the FY23 general fund budget on Tuesday. After all, Harris had moments before finished proposing numerous budget amendments that his fellow board members had approved.

The roadblock to a “yes” vote from Harris stems from the city losing its voice on the school board in July 2021. A June 30 memorandum from County Attorney Russell Slayton said board officials city ​​school had lost their right to vote due to the expiration of the city and county shared school funding agreement. Harris explained his negative vote on the budget.

“My reason for this is concern over increased funding for schools when there are fewer children in our school system,” Harris said. “We have no representation on the board. We are taxed without representation, and to show you how bad this has become, I just learned today that an announcement has been made that the school system is outsourcing the food supply to cafeterias – the only thing that the school system is doing well. I mean these ladies know how to cook. They know how to cook perfectly. The best homemade buns in the world and we outsource them. There is no one to turn to to complain. No one in the county has to listen to the concerns of anyone in the city.

Although he voted no for the FY23 budget, Harris is impressed with the work of city staff put into the budget. He called the final budget outcome not perfect but solid nonetheless. The councilman said his no was a vote of conscience.

Last summer, city school board members Marva Dunn and Janie Bush were told they could participate in some capacity with county school board officials, but would not have the right to vote. Dunn said that has changed. She said a scheduled meeting between city school board officials and GCPS superintendent Dr. Kelvin Edwards was canceled at the last minute when Edwards learned he could not meet with school board officials. the city. Dunn said the Greensville County Board of Supervisors was behind the cancellation of the meeting. After Dunn contacted Edwards, the meeting took place.

“Apparently the Greensville County Board of Supervisors forgot that the school board isn’t responding to them,” Dunn said. “The school board answers to the people who elected it.”

Dunn said she hopes all the elected officials come together and do the right thing.

Councilman Clifton Threat said work to regain voting rights for school boards in the city is an ongoing effort that began as soon as the city discovered the county eliminated it. Threat, Harris, City Manager William Johnson and City Attorney Eric Gregory are heavily involved in the effort.

“We plead and we fight hard,” Threat said. “It’s going to be a process. It won’t happen overnight, but hopefully the process will prevail and we can make our voices heard at the school board.

Emporia City Council passed its FY23 general fund budget Tuesday 5-2, with Harris and Jim Saunders both voting no.

The city’s lack of voice on the school board likely prevented the budget proposal from passing unanimously by the board.