By William J. Des Rochers, Fluvanna Field Officer
Over the past weekend, Fluvanna supervisors set a special meeting for Monday evening (7:00 pm Fluvanna County Courthouse) to discuss the proposed high school bond issue. Two members are needed to force a special meeting and sources indicate that the two more conservative members: Gene Ott (Rivanna) and Don Weaver (Cunningham) pressed the issue.
Both Ott and Weaver want to have another look at the bond proposal made by Davenport and Company, the county’s bond advisers. Ott has in the past cited a potential conflict of interest since the bond adviser is paid when the county uses it to place the bonds.
The text of the required announcement states: “Based on the current economic situation affecting the bond market and interest rates, this meeting is called to determine if the Fluvanna County Board of Supervisors needs more information for (sic) an independent financial expert on the bond market status and to seek answers as to the most desirable time to enter the market place for the High School bond interest rates and to consider delaying the offering, sale and issuance of such bonds pending receipt of such advice.”
According to one well placed official, the supervisors are unlikely to take any action that would delay going to the market which now is scheduled for December 1st.
Supervisors Meeting of November 19, 2008
Mr. Bill Hughes, a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post 8169 (Scottsville), with several members in attendance, briefed the Board on major renovations and upgrade to the Post facility. The United Way designated the renewal as a “Day of Caring” project.
Accomplished entirely through volunteer labor and donations, Fluvanna county staff and numerous local businesses donated time and material. Mr. Hughes noted that for the first time the facility now had hot water, and estimated that the donated time and materials amounted to at least $75,000.
The Post presented Certificates of Appreciation to the county staff that participated in the project.
School Bond Update
County Administrator G. Cabell Lawton IV informed the supervisors that he anticipates going to the bond market on December 1st to secure the funds necessary for the new high school. Mr. Lawton also expects to close on the funds by the end of the year.
About a dozen citizens spoke again regarding the bond issue and only two supported going forward at the present time. Other comments ranged from suggesting just a short-term deferral until the markets stabilize to outright cancellation of the bond solicitation. Over the past two Board meetings, there has been considerable public comment urging the Board to reconsider its decision to go forward with the bond issue, especially given the current uncertain economic climate and the impact it is having on personal finances.
Prior to the discussion, the county administrator told the supervisors that he has instructed staff to develop contingency plans for budget reductions at both the five and ten percent levels. The county’s next real estate tax deadline is December 5th and the Administration will have a better idea of the county’s finances by then, according to Lawton.
As of the meeting, county officials still were confident that the bonds could be sold at an interest ate at or lower than the Board set limit of six percent.
Other Board Actions
In other actions, the Board:
· Was updated on potential improvements to the Human Services building at Carysbrook. A complete renovation and new construction could cost as much as $4 million, or it could be phased in and cost as little as $1.3 million initially for the old high school building renovations;
· Approved the creation of a Central Virginia Regional Jail Authority, which would have the ability to secure funds through its own borrowing (the Authority’s creation must be approved by all member governments);
· Approved a county investment policy that will provide guidance to the Treasurer regarding the investment of the county’s general funds, capital project funds, and bond repayment account;
· Appointed supervisors Don Weaver (Cunningham) and Marvin Moss (Columbia) to a new Energy Performance Contracting Committee, which will provide guidance regarding performance based contracts for the county’s energy related projects; and,
· Set two work sessions to review the Comprehensive Plan — Saturday, February 7th, 2009 (9:00 am to 4:00 pm) and Wednesday, February 18th, 2009 (4:00 pm to 6:00 pm).
The Board’s next regular meeting will be held on December 3rd, at 2:00 pm in the County Courthouse.