By Pauline Hovey, Field Officer
At the request of Greene County Board of Supervisors Chairman Buggs Peyton (Standardsville), various county offices, Treasurer and Commissioner of Revenue, provided public presentations of their various department functions and financial updates at last Tuesday night’s board meeting. While the Board has requested written reports from these offices, this marked the first time a chairman had requested such a presentation, most likely to familiarize the three new board members with county procedures.
Commissioner of Revenue Larry Snow (photo left) offered the most noteworthy news of the evening when he suggested that this year’s property reassessment, which will be completed this fall and go into effect January 1, 2013, will create “a sharp reduction” in property values, maybe as much as 15 percent. “Assessors are saying our property values are high,” Snow reported, warning the board that if his prediction is correct, “we will probably lose $1.5 million in revenue.” That’s not good news for the county, which is already anticipating a more than $2 million shortfall in state and federal funding for education.
In order to “streamline the process” for potential businesses desiring to locate in Greene, Supervisor Jim Frydl suggested the commissioner’s office have a work session with Economic Development Authority Director Tony Williams, County Planning Director Bart Svoboda, and others involved. Frydl would like to see brochures or other types of written materials available to better assist those interested in coming to Greene.
Treasurer Stephanie Deal, who was elected one year ago facing the challenge of dealing with unreconciled accounts, offered a most impressive report of her ability to turn that office around. Greene County has an impressive collection rate of 92 percent overall: a 94 percent collection rate in real estate, 81 percent for personal property, and 98 percent for public service corporations. “This speaks very highly of our citizens and their desire to pay their taxes,” Deal said. But Supervisor Frydl gave Deal much credit, noting the county’s collection rate is better than the state average and “speaks to your office as well.” Deal was reelected to a four year term in November of 2010.
Among Deal’s goals for the county are establishing an online tax payment system, getting payment arrangements in place for those residents who need help paying real estate taxes, and establishing a new banking relationship as Bank of America will soon close its Stanardsville location. Since the treasurer’s office conducts all its automatic deposits and other banking at this location, Deal expects the closing will “dramatically affect” her office.
Public Safety Director Dave Lawrence ended his detailed presentation on the county’s Emergency Operations Plan with a request to pursue the possibility of a grant to establish an Emergency Operations Center (EOC). Apparently, Greene currently does not have such a center. “It would give the county an extremely secure, centralized location to go to in an emergency,” Lawrence said, urging the board to approve his request to move forward in determining whether the county would be eligible for a grant to establish an EOC. Supervisors unanimously approved his request.
With some discussion, supervisors also agreed to grant the sheriff’s office approval to apply for a $25,000 grant from the Department of Criminal Justice to start up a program on combating Internet crimes against children. Although this is a one-time grant and Supervisor Frydl was concerned about where the money would come from to continue the program, Greene County Sheriff Steve Smith suggested once the program is started, his department can seek federal and state funding in the future.
Pauline Hovey is the Greene County Field Officer for the Free Enterprise Forum a privately funded public policy organization.
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