We are excited to announce the release of our first group of local government ratings reports. While this initial focus is for the Shendoah Valley, we will be releasing other areas of the state over the next few months. Stay tuned here to learn about YOUR city/county; coming soon! See below for our press release.
For July 18, 2018 Release July 18, 2018
VATP Committee Contact: Mark E. Daugherty 540-255-1431
Email Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org 540-885-5627
Virginia Tea Party Committee Releases Shenandoah Valley Local Government and School Division Comparison Scores.
(Staunton, VA) – The Virginia Tea Party Local Government Committee has released local government comparison scores for three valley cities and four counties. The three cities studied are Harrisonburg, Staunton, and Waynesboro. The four counties examined are Augusta, Rockingham, Page, and Shenandoah. The research study evaluated 16 general government indicators, including, taxes, debt, pension funding, and public safety. In addition, 10 indicators were measured in the local school division scoring, including reading, math, science, history, and writing proficiency. The local reports are available on the following website: https://vatp.org/
For the school system results, Rockingham County Public Schools earned 33 points, followed by Page County receiving 31 points, and Augusta County scoring 29 points. Waynesboro Public Schools received 17 points as a result of weak proficiency scores in all five subject areas, and a low accreditation level of 50%. Staunton Public Schools achieved 24 points, while Shenandoah County earned 23 points and Harrisonburg 22 points.
Mark Daugherty, VATP Local Government Committee member said, “Waynesboro parents need to work with their school board members, teachers, and administrators, to initiate effective programs and practices to attain higher proficiency levels. A good starting place is to study how the highly effective Rockingham County school system operates. In addition, Waynesboro school officials could consider partnering with local book clubs and local writer groups to see if volunteer tutors can help Waynesboro students improve their reading and writing skills.”
In the general government evaluations, Rockingham and Augusta posted the highest total scores, although accurate data for sheriff’s office emergency response times was not available. In a close side-by-side city comparison, Harrisonburg scored 60 points and Staunton received 58 points.
“County and city government officials, including police, deputies, firefighters, teachers, and administrators work hard serving their citizens, students, and taxpayers,” said Mr. Daugherty. “We encourage Valley residents to call, write, or meet with your local officials and thank them if they are doing a good job, and offer new ideas and suggestions if they are not meeting your expectations of quality and efficient local government and education.”
The Virginia Tea Party committee highlights selected comparisons of interest.
- Augusta County reported the lowest tax revenue per capita of $983 per resident in the Valley while Waynesboro collected the highest per capita tax revenue of $1,595.
- Page County boasts the highest pension funding percentage of 87.6%, while Staunton’s city employee pension fund was 72% funded as reported in their fiscal 2017 financial report.
- Shenandoah County had the lowest debt per capita of $968 per county resident. The opposite extreme is Harrisonburg which has $3,099 debt per capita. (The debt calculations were from government activities and excluded business/enterprise activity debt and revenue bonds.)
- Rockingham County has the lowest 2017 crime rate of 19 Group A Offenses per thousand residents. Augusta County has the second lowest crime rate in the Valley with 31 Group A Offenses per thousand population. The highest crime rate in the Shenandoah Valley was reported by Staunton with 68 Group A Offenses per thousand population. Waynesboro was a close second to Staunton with 67 Group A Offenses per thousand Waynesboro residents. (Group A Offenses include murder, rape, aggravated and simple assault, robbery, burglary, vehicle theft, larceny, fraud, drug and narcotics offenses, vandalism, and other crimes against people and property.)
- Among the five school subject proficiency categories, Rockingham County students scored highest in reading, math, and writing. Page County students achieved the highest scores in science and history.
- Harrisonburg Public Schools has 71% of their students who are eligible for free school lunch. The lowest percentage of students who are At-Risk is in Rockingham County with 38.5% of their student body eligible for free school lunch.
The Virginia Tea Party obtained the data for the various county/city reports from the following sources: Virginia Auditor of Public Accounts, Comprehensive Annual Financial Reports for each locality, the Virginia Department of Education School Quality Profiles, the Virginia State Police, and FOIA-Freedom of Information Act requests to various departments in each county and city.
The Local Government Comparison reports are intended to inform citizens about the condition of their local government and how the government and school performance compares to other Shenandoah Valley counties and cities. Five Shenandoah Valley comparison reports are available online with the scoring information, definitions of each key indicator, and a slide show. The Virginia Tea Party website is: https://vatp.org/
The Virginia Tea Party promotes limited, efficient government at all levels with low taxes, low debt, and quality public education and government services.