By Pauline Hovey, Greene County Field Officer
Due to population growth in the Ruckersville district, redistricting looms on the horizon for Greene County. Based on the 2010 census, County Planning Director Bart Svoboda said Greene County has to move about 700-800 residents out of the Ruckersville district in order to balance the three current voting districts: Monroe, Stanardsville, and Ruckersville.
At Tuesday night’s (4/12) Greene County Board of Supervisors’ meeting, Svoboda reported that the population growth reported in the 2010 Census may require the Board establishing a fourth magisterial district. Before that can be determined, however, he and County Registrar Sandra Shifflett must receive the necessary maps from the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission (TJPDC), and that won’t happen in time for the board’s next meeting on April 26. TJPDC has the software to produce maps based on 2010 data, which the county will use to revisit district lines and determine whether it’s feasible to divide the several hundred residents among the three voting districts or to establish a fourth district.
Redistricting could affect current board seats. If a fourth district needs to be established, the Board would likely convert from the current two at-large seats to one at-large seat, and this would in turn affect those residents considering running as Board of Supervisors candidates in the November 8 election.
Once Svoboda and Shifflett have reviewed the maps and prepared their recommendations, they will meet with the Supervisors at their May 10 board meeting. A public hearing would follow on June 14 to address the proposed voting changes. After the public hearing, the plan would then be voted on by the Board of Supervisors.
According to Shifflett, Greene County will not be required to submit its redistricted voting precincts to the Department of Justice for approval prior to the next election, which, she said, is good news, because in a redistricting year, a primary election would be held August 23, and absentee ballots would need to be ready by July.
Interestingly, the Free Enterprise Forum notes that both at-large seats are up for election in the
2013 2011 election cycle (and the Ruckersville Monroe District). If the Board chooses to go with one at large supervisor, it would set up the potential of having two incumbants in a contest for one seat.
In matters from the board, Supervisor Carl Schmitt (at-large) informed the board he had met with the Commissioner of Tax Revenue, Larry Snow, regarding a study Schmitt discovered on the impact of conservation easement on tax revenue. Although the commissioner is required to report the latest “appraised assessed value” of land for taxation purposes, Schmitt learned that Snow can report the “land use value” of land under permanent conservation easement. This change would reduce the value of land under permanent conservation easement by about $41 million and, as a result, change the number that goes into the computation of the composite index. This would mean additional state dollars for the county for school funding, although this increase would not be immediately realizable.
Also at the meeting, the board approved the Virginia Department of Transportation’s (VDOT) Six Year Plan presented by VDOT’s Karen Kilby. According to Kilby, the plan entails two crossings at Mutton Hollow Road, both of which have been fully funded and planned; Matthew Mill Rd., Route 607, fully funded and planned; and Beazley, Simms, and Rosebrook Roads, which are listed as priorities but not fully funded at this time.
Supervisor Mike Skeens (Monroe district) asked if VDOT could look into establishing a turn lane at the Greene County Primary School due to traffic congestion and the lack of a direct entrance to the school facility, thereby creating “cars stacked up there in the morning and after school.”
The board’s 2011-2012 budget deliberations have ended, and, as in years past, the board has given the schools less than requested. The board has proposed a $300,000 increase to the schools, which totals only about half of what the School Board requested. Committed to giving salary increases this year, the School Board is having difficulty making drastic cuts that would not impact students. A public hearing on the budget will be held Tuesday, April 26.
[April 19th – Correction made to timing of elections. Thanks Bill! – nw]
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