By. Brent Wilson, Greene County Field Officer
The June 26 Greene County Board of Supervisors meeting provided several examples of how private citizens working with government can achieve community advancement.
Ethyle Cole Giuseppe, 92, was recognized for her continued generosity to the Greene County Park. Last year, Giuseppe donated the funds for construction of a comfort station at the county park. At this meeting she agreed to pay for a basketball court at the park which will allow Greene County to delay expenditures for the park until next fiscal year and start down the list of priorities to further enhance the park.
The renovation of the second story of the Greene County owned library building is ahead of schedule and will be ready for Fall, 2012 semester of Piedmont Virginia Community College, in the Eugene Giuseppe Center (this project, as well as the furnishings for the library, were also accomplished with significant private support). While the second floor has remained vacant since the library opened in 2003, Chairman “Buggs” Peyton commended the foresight to construct the library building with the second floor that is now ready to provide PVCC classes in Stanardsville.
Roy Dye of Stanardsville Area Revitalization (*STAR*) reported that grants to renovate the downtown Stanardsville streetscapes are making progress . All right of way required have been donated by property owners – some were only asking for 6 inches to allow wider sidewalks. Documents have been submitted to the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) for review. After approval by VDOT, the project will be advertised to make selection of vendors with work scheduled to begin as early as this fall.
Considering recent discussions of an oversized reserve fund, it’s easy to forget that not long ago, Greene County was nearly bankrupt. In those days, Greene regularly borrowed funds in order to meet payroll and other obligations before the next property tax semiannual payment. Strict financial controls were enacted to change this practice. One BOS meeting during this time featured a constitutional officer requesting, and being denied, funds to replace a dying computer (>$1,000) outside the normal budget cycle.
The fiscal restraint that previous Boards of Supervisors utilized is evident as Greene now boasts a large financial reserve, far beyond the minimum recommended by their auditing firm. Even as they accrued this reserve, Greene continued to continued to advance important capital projects at the same time.
The Greene County Board of Supervisors are successfully leveraging both corporate and private citizen support to enhance the quality of life for all citizens. While unfunded state mandates continue to negatively impact Greene’s budget, their strategic capital investments as well as a business friendly environment have created a new fiscal reality for local government.
How the Board will deal with this new reality will be the discussion in their next Board meeting on July 10th. The Board has heard from some citizens advocating for maintaining a larger than required reserve, some wishing to spend down a portion of the reserve and still others that consider the reserve to be an indication they have been over taxed.
Will Greene County create endorse a written financial reserve policy?
How will that policy impact scheduled capital improvement projects?
Will such a policy create a financial safety net to avoid raising taxes?
Once again the Free Enterprise Forum has more questions than answers.
Brent Wilson is the Greene County Field Officer for the Free Enterprise Forum a privately funded public policy organization.
The Free Enterprise Forum Field Officer program is funded by a generous grant from the Charlottesville Area Association of REALTORS® (CAAR) and by readers like you. To support this important work please donate online at www.freeenterpriseforum.org