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Scott: New jobs will solve other problems
Collinsville challenger critical of EDC
Wednesday, October 30, 2013
By BULLETIN STAFF REPORTS -
Randolph “Randy” Stephen Scott is seeking the Collinsville District seat on the Henry County Board of Supervisors in the Nov. 5 election with a single goal: job creation.
“My perspective of representing the Collinsville District is to focus on bringing high-paying, good-paying jobs to the area,” Scott said.
Scott, who gave his age as “39-plus,” said the creation of more jobs would make other problems disappear.
He has been openly critical of the Martinsville-Henry County Economic Development Corp., and said an aggressive recruiting effort patterned after one used by Rick Perry would be successful. Perry is governor of Texas, which is experiencing an historic gas and oil boom.
“Whether you agree with him or not, (Perry) has been one of the most aggressive governors (in) trying to bring jobs from other states to his state” and has traveled to other states such as California and New Jersey to visit corporations, Scott said.
“He’s been like a very public recruiter of companies and jobs to come to Texas. If he can do that and seek the public acclaim he’s known for, I don’t understand why our local EDC cannot spend time in New Jersey, California and other areas” that have higher corporate income taxes and wages than the Henry County-Martinsville area, Scott said.
In some monthly updates in open session before the Henry County Board of Supervisors, Mark Heath, the EDC’s president/CEO, has said that he and members of his staff have attended out-of-state trade shows, conferences and other events.
Scott, who rarely attends supervisors’ meetings, said he was not aware of that, and he added that neither are most residents.
“We would never know what they do because all of that is private and confidential, but Gov. Perry makes it very public what he does. The model set up by Perry has been very public,” Scott said.
According to the Texas Public Policy Foundation’s website, Texas employers added 274,700 new jobs since August 2012. The Lone Star state has no state income tax, low levels of regulation and relatively limited government spending, according to the website.
The number of jobs created in Virginia during the same time frame was 33,300, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics at www.bls.gov.
Scott said Perry’s economic development efforts are similar to those of Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell as well as college football coaches charged with recruiting players, in that the coaches “go into the living rooms of families they are recruiting. They don’t put up billboards on roads. They don’t use brokers or middle people. They sell themselves.”
Some projects aimed at creating jobs locally may not have Scott’s support, he said, citing Commonwealth Crossing Business Centre as an example.
“I understand the state has said there would be no duplication between CCBC and Berry Hill” industrial park in Pittsylvania County, Scott said. However, “I would need to see a lot more data on why not. It would be difficult for me to support” the CCBC when Berry Hill is nearby and has “three times the acreage” as Commonwealth Crossing, he said.
Scott said he likely would sign a confidentiality agreement if requested to do so by a prospective company.
“I don’t think there would be any reason I would not sign that, but if it’s the EDC asking, I would need to know a whole lot more about why” the agreement is needed before he would consider signing it, Scott said.
He noted that answer was his first response to a question about confidentiality agreements and he did not have time to think over the question before responding. He added that he thought the question was unfair to candidates because they are not privy to the processes of the supervisors’ closed sessions.
However, the board of supervisors’ agenda generally cites “discussion of as-yet unannounced industries” as one of the reasons for meeting in closed session. Officials also often have declined to answer questions or provide information about projects, citing confidentiality agreements.
Scott said it also was unfair to ask his opinions about county tax rates, including whether he would support an increase.
“I think it is not fair to even talk about raising taxes. The important thing to do is to bring jobs here. Create jobs because new jobs bring new revenues. New homes create new real estate revenue. I don’t look at raising taxes as an issue. I look at bringing jobs, which creates new revenue,” he said. “New revenue, not old revenue.”
The new revenue would be created “from the sales tax off of paychecks that are spent in stores, new homes that are built,” and it would help “ease the pressure” on other things, such as taxes or fees charged for water and sewer by the Henry County Public Service Authority, Scott said.
“It doesn’t seem like it’s possible to lower them (PSA fees), but certainly jobs would take off the pressure,” Scott said. There also would be more industries using more water and sewer.
For the first time since 2006, the PSA board voted this year to increase rates for residential customers by $4 per month each for water and sewer. The increase also affected other categories of customers. For the complete rate schedule that took effect July 1, visit www.henrycountyva.gov/rates.
“One of the reasons for the big increase (in PSA fees) was we didn’t have the big water accounts anymore. Without those accounts, the only thing to do is to raise fees. Jobs are the panacea to everything,” Scott said.
“We are not growing,” he said. “We’re treading water, and when you’re treading water, you look at how to raise revenues from taxes and increased water and sewer fees.”
Scott said if he is elected, he will “do my best ... to work with all local media,” but “I have concerns. There’s been benchmarks down the road where the media has not provided the traditional oversight of economic development activities.”
Scott declined to “expand on that (until) after the election. I appreciate the role that the news media occupies, but I think there is evidence that the EDC has been given some passes on its performance by the media.”
Scott said he has been campaigning door-to-door since January.
“Actually, it was before that (because) I started a petition a year ago about the free health insurance of two supervisors,” he said. He added that he started the petition drive to oppose the county providing insurance coverage to two supervisors — Debra Buchanan in the Horsepasture District and H.G. Vaughn in Ridgeway.
“I’ve been able to meet a lot of people, not only in the Collinsville District” but also in two other districts, Scott said. He said he has collected a total of 1,900 signatures of people who do not favor the county providing insurance to elected officials. Scott said he has not had a chance to go into the other three county districts yet.
If he is elected, Scott said he may elect to participate in the county’s health insurance program. But, “I would not have the taxpayers pay for my health insurance. More than likely, I would probably use what salary is paid to a supervisor to cover my health insurance,” he said.
Scott said he supports term limits for public officials. After serving two consecutive terms, officials should “sit out” one term before deciding to run again, he said.
“Also, as a former educator, one day I would like to see classroom teachers making a salary sufficient that they don’t have to aspire to be an administrator to make a higher salary,” Scott said.
A former resident of Hardy and Moneta, Scott said he moved back to Collinsville “four years ago to start taking care of my mother,” who died in June.