Free Enterprise Forum releases latest government spending report

Outside of the Albemarle County office building.
Outside of the Albemarle County office building.(wvir)
Published: Aug. 24, 2021 at 5:39 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - The Free Enterprise Forum says the city of Charlottesville spends the most per capita. Albemarle County also showed extreme changes in this year’s Choices and Decisions report.

“I think it provides an objective metric to judge how their elected officials are doing in making the choices and decisions about what local government does, and how it does it,” said Neil Williamson, the president of Free Enterprise Forum.

The Free Enterprise Forum tracks government spending using what they call the local government spending index (LGSI).

“We take a look at per capita spending, by locality, but tie it back to how the locality was spending the money 20 years ago, and track that index by their own spending,” Williamson said.

The report shows Albemarle County’s total spending increased by 68%, while their population increased by 30%. This sort of increase is not the case everywhere.

“When you look over just north of Albemarle, in Greene County, it’s the first time we have had a LGSI below 100,” Williamson said. “Adjusted for inflation, they’re spending less per capita than they were in 2020.”

These differences are based on how the localities choose to spend their money. This year, a big factor was education.

“It’s interesting to track how population and school enrollment growth go together,” Williamson said. “The largest part of an locality’s budget is generally education, K-12 education. If you look at the school enrollment, it’s been relatively flat.”

This report comes out every other year. Williamson says the findings can help voters make political decisions, based on these objective numbers.

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