By Pauline Hovey, Greene County Field Officer
Changes abound for Greene County in this new year, not all of them welcomed as the county faces decreased state and federal funding that will greatly impact the school system’s budget (and in turn the County budget).
The first change the Greene County Board of Supervisors experienced on Tuesday night (January 10) was the election of a new chairman, Buggs Peyton (Stanardsville) – a position his predecessor had served for eight years. Peyton (photo left) has the most experience on the board, followed by Supervisor Jim Frydl (Midway), and both will need to rely on their knowledge of county procedures as they guide the three new board members through the fast-approaching budget process.
Facing reductions in both state and federal funding, this year’s budget will be challenging, especially for the school system. Greene’s Local Composite Index (LCI), which determines a locality’s ability to pay education costs, has risen significantly, and state contributions to the Virginia Retirement System (VRS) for teachers will decrease this year. According to Frydl, who is liaison to the school board, both factors combined along with a loss of federal money, means county schools will be dealing with as much as a $2.2 million reduction in funding.
One much-needed change underway concerns road improvements that will lessen traffic congestion in the Ruckersville district. In his quarterly report to the board, Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) representative David Crim reviewed the proposed improvements to the intersection of Route 607 (Matthew Mill Road) and Route 29, an intersection that has become increasingly traveled as housing developments have sprouted up in that area over the past several years.
According to VDOT, Rte. 607 currently carries 7,112 vehicles per day. Anyone traveling on that road during the morning or evening peak commuter hours knows firsthand how heavily congested it can be. VDOT is proposing to widen lanes on Rte. 607 to five lanes, allowing an additional turning lane into the Sheetz service station and an additional westbound left-turn lane onto Rte. 29 south. At a public hearing held at Ruckersville Elementary School on Wednesday (January 11th) evening, residents had an opportunity to view the intended changes, provide input, and ask questions of VDOT representatives. Project construction isn’t proposed to be completed, however, until the fall of 2015.
And with the new sheriff in office, widespread changes either have taken place or can be anticipated in that department as well. Sheriff Steve Smith came before the board Tuesday night to request permission to fill five vacant positions. When Smith, a newcomer to the county’s sheriff’s department, took office January 1, he did not reappoint several officers to their positions. Supervisor Frydl’s main concern about Smith’s request related to the current budget and whether filling these positions and the training the new officers would require would match the amount already appropriated. Frydl made a motion to approve filling the vacant positions contingent upon an investigation from the finance director to determine how many positions can be filled under current budget appropriations.
Pauline Hovey is the Greene County Field Officer for the Free Enterprise Forum a privately funded public policy organization.
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