By Pauline Hovey, Greene County Field Officer
After receiving minimal input at Tuesday (6/14) night’s public hearing, the Greene County Board of Supervisors easily decided to create a fourth voting district and eliminate one at-large seat. Although supervisors reported receiving a number of phone calls on the matter, only three residents provided input at the hearing, and all were concerned about not forcing out an incumbent due to redistricting changes.
With the Ruckersville district having at least 750 more residents than the county’s other two voting districts and Virginia state law allowing only a 5-percent differential among districts, this matter needed to be resolved before the upcoming election. Retaining three districts by splitting Ruckersville’s overflow into the existing Monroe and Stanardsville districts seemed the least practical, least cost-effective choice since the Ruckersville area continues to grow and may require additional adjustments in the near future.
“Even though most of us would not want to change the districts, it’s not feasible to stay with only three districts because of how much we’ve grown,” said Supervisor Jim Frydl, who currently represents the Ruckersville district.
Supervisors unanimously agreed to name the fourth district Midway and, since Supervisor Frydl lives within the boundaries of this new district, designated elections for this district be held in 2013, which would allow Frydl to complete his four-year term and run again if he chose. The boundaries of all existing districts are affected by this decision. Residents will vote in the new districts in the November 2011 election and should expect to receive voter cards designating their voting precinct/polling place. The new Midway district will vote at Ruckersville Elementary School, and the new Ruckersville district will vote at the current location of the Ruckersville Fire Station. The population in each district will be as follows: Monroe = 4,727; Stanardsville = 4,588; Midway = 4,528; Ruckersville 4,554. Boundaries of all four districts are available on the county website at http://www.gcva.us/Redistricting.pdf.
Another matter of importance to county residents, as noted by Supervisor Frydl, is the disturbing fact that the Commissioner of Revenue continues to fail to provide reports on county revenues despite repeated requests from the supervisors. “We’ve made multiple requests for reports from this office; we’re trying to do due diligence on behalf of the taxpayers; and we’re getting no response to our requests,” Frydl said. “It’s impossible for us to provide oversight without reports from that office.”
The Free Enterprise Forum believes the elected position of Commissioner of the Revenue was created in the Virginia Constitution to establish and protect the independent status of the office and to ensure that local tax revenues will be assessed by an officer who reports directly to the people.
Among other responsibilities, the Office of the Commissioner of Revenue assesses individual and business personal property taxes and issues business licenses. Without obtaining such reports, supervisors cannot know if county businesses are operating legally and paying their taxes. Although not addressed any further at the meeting, this issue remains unresolved and most likely will turn up in future board meetings.
With the federal government’s environmental limit on total maximum daily loads (TMDLs) looming, Supervisor Frydl noted that, thanks to the Rivanna River Basin Commission (RRBC), the county is “very far ahead of other regions in the state in understanding the health of our rivers and how to meet the TMDLs.” As a result, once the TMDLs are established, “they may have no bearing on our community,” Frydl said. During a recent study, the RRBC identified Rivanna’s healthy waters and has been promoting their protection through land use planning in the Rivanna watershed. The RRBC provided recommendations to Greene County during its 2010 update to the county’s comprehensive plan.
Earlier Tuesday morning, supervisors attended a groundbreaking ceremony at the Greene County Community Park for a new comfort station/concession area, thanks to a very generous $100,000 donation from resident Ethyle Cole Giuseppe. Although the Board planned to construct the much-needed comfort station to replace the park’s two portable toilets and address the lack of running water, supervisors were awaiting official results of the county’s financial situation before moving forward. Giuseppe, a 92-year-old Greene County native, upset by this unfulfilled need, decided to act sooner rather than later.
Supervisor Carl Schmitt (at-large), who served as master of ceremonies, reported that the county has agreed to put in the necessary well and septic field for the comfort station. The $20,000 needed for this project is available and had been earmarked previously for this purpose, so, Schmitt said, it will not involve designating any “new money” to the project. He expects the comfort station will be completed within 90 days.
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