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  • Writer's pictureSam Orlando

Golden Shovels and Soaring Taxes: The Grand Irony of Augusta County's New Courthouse Ceremony

Written by: Sam Orlando

Golden Shovels, Skyrocketing Taxes

VERONA, VIRGINIA – On a day that seemed ripe for satire, the elite of Augusta County donned hard hats and gripped golden shovels, not to bury the proverbial hatchet over recent property tax upheavals, but to celebrate the groundbreaking of the new Augusta County Courthouse.

On March 15, 2024, the pomp-filled ceremony at 100 Dick Huff Lane marks the start of constructing a judicial complex intended to centralize the county's Circuit Courts, General District Courts, and Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Courts.

Supervisors and Local Judges Celebrate Amidst Public Backlash Over Taxes

The gathering was a veritable parade of local power, with Board of Supervisors members and judges rubbing elbows, seemingly aloof to the irony of their golden shovels amid a storm of public dissent over spiraling property taxes. Notably present were Judges, including retired Circuit Court Judge Goodwin and Judges Jones and Shah of the lower Courts. The latter, interestingly enough, had previously ruled in a pivotal case against Augusta Free Press, which sought transparency from these very supervisors, showcasing a tangled web of governance and judiciary.

A Monument to Justice, or to Gluttony?

Chairman Jeffrey Slaven's remarks painted the courthouse as a monument to justice and community. Yet, beneath the ceremony's glittering surface lies a stark question: How does this grandiose expenditure align with the fiscal realities facing Augusta County's residents, especially as they reel from a contentious reassessment that's inflated their property values—and their tax bills?

This grand unveiling, replete with ceremonial opulence, starkly contrasts the backdrop of community unease over rising assessments, suggesting a disconnect of almost theatrical proportions. The courthouse, hailed as a long-awaited solution to judicial space and safety concerns, also serves as a mirror reflecting the county's prioritization of grandeur over the grit of everyday financial struggles.

As the project's December 2025 commencement looms, Augusta County's citizens are left to navigate the dichotomy of progress and its price. The courthouse, essential for judicial functionality, ironically underscores the complexities of funding civic development amidst tightening household budgets.

This ceremony, with its golden shovels turning earth, inadvertently digs into deeper discussions on civic priorities, transparency, and the cost of erecting a government edifice in Verona. As Augusta County stands on the brink of this historic undertaking, its residents hold out hope that this investment's legacy will be one of enhanced community welfare, not a monument to fiscal folly.

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