With his time on the Patrick County School Board at an end, Brandon Simmons is transitioning to the Patrick County Board of Supervisors as the Dan River District representative.
Simmons said his main priority will be to work to overcome the large deficits in parts of the county budget to ensure the county has a more balanced budget.
“We can’t continue to take away from all other areas of the budget to cover these large deficits because that’s not a true balanced budget,” he said.
The main goal in addressing the budget should be in a manner that is fair to every taxpayer, Simmons said. He also believes that it should be done so landowners and homeowners do not continue to foot the bill.
“We have to find ways to do things that is truly fair to every person in Patrick County, and not just homeowners and landowners paying the bills,” he said, adding he believes that it is possible for the board to better balance the budget quickly.
To help with budget issues, Simmons has previously suggested the board should cut or remove the funds given to the Transfer Station, restructure departments, and eliminate some of the outside contributions.
One of his primary reasons for focusing on the budget is to help ensure the board always gives the minimum local match for the school system.
Simmons said he believes education is the most important investment for any locality because it is an investment – in its children, future employees, business owners, local leaders, and state leaders.
“That’s the most important investment anybody can make in the future for anything to grow. We have to find ways to make sure we don’t cut that,” he said.
Simmons also wants to find ways to help the county grow. While he notes this goal will not be easy to accomplish, he believes the county is on the right track, particularly because of the anticipated financial assistance from the state government.
“With this new broadband initiative from the state, and all this money we’re getting in to help Virginia become totally broadband efficient, if all that works out all right, it’s going to be a big help in the future,” he said. “Anytime we can find an opportunity, we need to seize it to grow, whether it’s starting small and moving up.”
Simmons said he also wants to build good relationships with the other board members and other county leaders.
“In the end, there’s going to be five of us. We’re never going to agree on everything together, never. But what we have to remember is that we all have a common goal, which is to improve the county in every way, financially and otherwise,” he said.
Simmons expects there to be an adjustment period as he transitions to the new board, and for the members to get to know one another. While he does not want to go in as a bulldog and push everyone to fix everything right away, he said he “will be very passionate and persistent on things that I think are very important for the county as a whole.”
While the relationship between the county and the Patrick County School Board has improved in recent years, Simmons said he wants to do everything he can to ensure the relationship stays positive. He also wants to improve the already good relationship with the Town of Stuart since “there’s always room for improvement.”