Fixing a fractured government is never easy or pretty. Unfortunately, Purcellville finds itself at that point.
There has been plenty of debate among entrenched political adversaries about whether some previous council, the town staff, or the current assembly is the root cause of the dysfunction. That argument will never be fully laid to rest and its continuation will only undermine the productivity of all concerned.
It’s time to move beyond the fruitless effort to lay blame and instead to push ahead with tackling the challenges facing the town, its residents and its businesses.
As of this writing, the status of the town manager remained uncertain. A second round of closed-door talks this week opened the door to speculation that he would be fired or that he would walk away from the post a year before his contract ends. Or he could stay on in an effort to build trust between the professional staff and the elected council members. But the parties appeared far closer to a conclusion of irreconcilable differences than to a willingness to improve their marriage.
Parting ways with an experienced and respected town manager won’t solve the problems about which council members are most concerned. It won’t lower the town’s debt load; it won’t give residents lower tax and utility bills; and it won’t change town policies concerning development. Those decisions rest solely with the Town Council. They always have.
One thing will change if that is the resulting outcome of these talks: Council members will have no one left to point at when faced with unpopular decisions. They will own the successes and the failures.
For the town, it is critical for council members to quickly find the balance that all good governments need to succeed. Judging from the size of the crowd attending Tuesday’s meeting in support of the town manager, they haven’t achieved that yet.