One week before Election Day in Waynesboro, the lines are clearly drawn. During the last open forum Wednesday afternoon, city council candidates sparred over education funding, local taxes and a big land purchase.
The City Council Candidate Forum was co-sponsored by the Valley Program for Aging Services, and NBC29. The event filled the cafeteria at the Waynesboro Senior Center as council candidates tackled questions from the media and citizens.
Three of the five city council seats are up for election and contested, so the voting on May 1 could bring a power shift.
Funding for Waynesboro Public Schools repeatedly came up during the forum. School board members openly complained just two nights ago that the current council is micro managing and withholding vital funds.
Ward A council candidate Jim Serba said, "You can't keep a number constant on revenue that is basically the same and expect the schools to be able to operate when all the expenses go up."
Ward A council candidate Tim Williams stated, "I have asked a number of times for the amount needed, the dollar amount needed to fully fund and balance their budget. I have yet to receive an answer. We need open and honest dialogue."
Challengers were critical of recent hikes in some user fees, and meals-and-lodging taxes. Incumbent council members said most of those taxes are paid by visitors, not Waynesboro residents.
Candidates also traded barbs over Waynesboro council's recent land purchase for a future industrial park and whether the $3.5 million was a wise investment.
A similar forum for Staunton city council takes place Thursday.