By Pauline Hovey, Greene County Field Officer
Greene County Board of Supervisors muddled over funding for future secondary road projects and the school athletics and performing arts facilities project at their March 22 meeting. Although funding for the former is determined by the Commonwealth of Virginia and is out of supervisors’ hands, the latter involved their authorization for the Greene County School Board to apply for a $5.3 million vs. $4.7 million loan from the Virginia Public School Authority (VPSA).
Supervisors had previously authorized the School Board to apply for a baseline $4.7 million low-interest VPSA loan, with the understanding the Supervisors would revisit the issue in March once they had more accurate information on the county’s financial standing. The additional $600,000 the School Board is requesting involves another five items that the project’s steering committee deemed necessary to complete, and spending this money now would save the county money in the long run, because the county would eventually be forced to complete these upgrades and renovations over time.
Greene County Schools Superintendent Dr. David Jeck (photo) responded to supervisor concerns, assuring them that no new personnel would need to be hired to maintain the new facilities and that the School Board was committed to not exceed the amount of debt service being retired and to finance the project at the smallest terms possible. Before voting on the amount, Supervisor Mike Skeens (Monroe district) clarified, “So, no new money is involved? Is that correct?”
Jeck reiterated that this is simply a matter of using retiring debt service to fund the project. At a public hearing earlier this year, twenty one residents who spoke unanimously urged supervisors to support full funding of the project. Despite these facts and the knowledge that delaying completion of these five additional items would involve greater expense down the road when costs would entail returning necessary equipment to the facility and paying higher amounts for materials and labor, two supervisors, Buggs Peyton (Stanardsville) and Steve Catalano (at-large), voted against the increase. The resolution passed with Skeens, Carl Schmitt (at-large), and Jim Frydl (Ruckersville district) voting for the $5.3 million loan amount.
In relation to county roads, Virginia Department of Transportation’s (VDOT) Karen Kilby and three other VDOT representatives presented the six-year secondary road plan, noting that based on its population, “Greene County gets a smaller piece of the pie.”
Greene County has about 201 miles of secondary roads in the state system and 147 miles of those roads are paved, but secondary road construction funds are distributed to the counties proportionally, mostly according to population. With that in mind, the slow-moving, minimally funded projects are not apt to be completed any time soon.
VDOT reported that the improvements to Bacon Hollow Road have been completed, making Mutton Hollow Road the number one priority. Mutton Hollow’s current bridges are deteriorating, and the area has been experiencing significant flooding problems, so that every time it rains, the road gets flooded and area residents, as well as school buses, have a difficult time getting through. “It’s a general traffic concern, especially with the school buses, and we’re nervous about it,” Catalano said.
VDOT presented a preliminary design for the Mutton Hollow Road bridge, will seek bids in December, and expects construction will be ongoing by next spring. Other priorities in the six-year plan include Matthew Mill Road, Beazley Road, Simms Rd., Rosebrook Road, and a second bridge on Mutton Hollow Road.
In other matters from the board, Supervisor Frydl expressed his concern that the board had requested reports from the commissioner of revenue and the county treasurer, and although they had received a “professional” report from the treasurer, he was “disappointed that we didn’t receive any information from the commissioner.”
According to Frydl, the Supervisors are now requesting monthly reports from both offices, “to enable us to identify what’s going on in the county and determine important trends.”
Chairman Catalano noted the Board will follow up on the status of the commissioner’s report. It’s expected the status will be addressed at the next board meeting. Both the treasurer and commissioner of revenue are state constitutional officers elected by the citizens, and they are responsible for providing county officials with accurate and useful information that benefits the taxpayers.
Pauline Hovey is the Greene County Field Officer for the Free Enterprise Forum a privately funded public policy organization. If you find this report helpful, please consider supporting the Free Enterprise Forum. To learn more visit www.freeenterpriseforum.org