Monthly Archives: January, 2013

Greene BOS Approves Region Ten Rezoning

By. Brent Wilson

At the January 22nd Greene County Board of Supervisors meeting, Jennifer Hinkle, Director of Greene County’s Region Ten Community Service, requested a rezoning of a 1 acre parcel from R-1 to B-1. The site has had a special use permit for usage of the R-1 class since 1981 and for many years housed a fitness center . The acre plot is situated in a residential area just east of Stanardsville off Route 33 Business on Lambs Lane. B-1 rezoning would allow a professional office to be located on the site. The Greene County Planning Commission had approved this request at its November 15, 2012 meeting .


Hinkle explained that VDOT estimates fewer vehicle trips per day.

The Comprehensive Plan  supports business growth in the Stanardsville area. Region Ten has been in service to Greene County since 1972. The need to move locations is caused by the lack of space in their current facility which serves approximately 60 students and 40 adults.

Lisa Roberston, Region Ten’s attorney, spoke about Region Ten’s service to Greene. The request is consistent with the Comprehensive Plan and Region Ten is a long time resident of Greene County showing an ability to coexist beside residential property. The current space for Region Ten has residential on two sides and the new space would meet most of the B-1 requirements in a residential area.

However, the majority of the speakers come out opposed to the B-1 rezoning for Region Ten. Wendell Lamb gave the history of the property, 17 acres, that dates back to his mother’s home. He got the special use permit for the fitness facility and then sold the business. He gave each of his children 2 acres of land around the facility and he still owns part of the property. His argument was – would you want Region Ten in your family plot when there are other places in Greene they could locate?

Several other speakers against the rezoning brought up issues of the B-1 class. There is not enough parking spaces, there is not handicapped parking for both levels and no elevator within the building, there is not enough set back, etc. Many believed this to be spot zoning.

None of the speakers against the rezoning spoke negatively toward the work Region Ten does, they spoke out against the location only. However, several speakers were both supportive of the organization’s work and the new location. In addition, Region Ten in Greene County provides space to the Food Bank  in Greene County.

After the public comment, County Attorney Ray Clarke, reminded the BOS that this was a land issue and not specifically about the building on the site. The site review issues related to the building should not be considered. The question of spot zoning  is valid only if the specific location receives benefit. If there are benefits beyond the specific site, then it is not spot zoning.

The BOS then spoke on the issues. Clarence “Buggs” Peyton (Stanardsville) began the discussion by stating that B-1 zoning would allow a variety of new commercial uses on the property (see page 29 of Greene County Zoning Ordinance ) whereas the SUP was for only the one use. He felt the Comprehensive Plan designated this area primarily for family development.

Supervisor Davis Lamb (Ruckersville) agreed with Peyton.  Supervisor Eddie Deane (At-Large) stated he appreciates what Region Ten brings to Greene County. If the rezoning is approved then, Region Ten would have to deal with any non-conforming issue at that time, Dean suggested. 

Supervisor David Cox (Monroe)  had similar questions about what Region Ten would have to do to be in compliance. Chairman Jim Frydl (Midway) echoed Cox’s zoning questions and Greene County Planning Director Bart Svoboda answered that the current building probably is non-conformance as it stands today for B-1 zoning.

Peyton made a motion to deny the rezoning request which was defeated in a 2-3 (Cox, Dean, Frydl – No) vote.  Cox made a motion to approve the request which passed 3-2 (Peyton, Lamb – No).


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


“Common Wealth Report” Released


Study Finds Disparity in State Tax Revenue and Disbursements

Charlottesville, VA – Virginia state tax revenue generated by economic activity and the disbursement of such revenue vary dramatically according to a study released today. The Common Wealth Report, underwritten by The Charlottesville Regional Chamber of Commerce and compiled by the Free Enterprise Forum, studied state tax revenue generated in each locality for FY2011 and direct State funding for the same period.


At the start of the study, it was theorized that a significant portion of State Tax revenue would return to the locality where it was generated. There seems to be an inverse correlation between economic prosperity and direct state funding. While not universal, those localities with the greatest contribution of State taxes tended to be “donor” localities with less tax revenue returning to the locality when compared with taxes sent to Richmond.

Of the localities studied, the Common Wealth Report identified the City of Petersburg as the largest recipient of State funds as compared to taxes generated. Charlottesville was second with the Commonwealth returning $1.66 in State spending to the locality for every dollar sent to the state.

Fairfax County accounts for 23.5% of all income tax collected in Virginia. Fairfax County is the largest donor locality included in this study. For every tax dollar sent to the Commonwealth, Fairfax receives $0.36 back. Albemarle County is the fourth largest donor locality studied.

The Common Wealth Report does NOT include transportation tax revenue nor transportation spending in its calculations. In addition, due to reporting variations income tax data from FY2009 was used to complete the tax generation data.

Free Enterprise Forum President Neil Williamson said “Our goal in developing the Common Wealth Report is to provide citizens an objective locality-specific metric to be used to compare state tax generation and state spending between municipalities. Perhaps informed with an objective metric such as the Common Wealth Report, additional study can be done to determine what it is citizens are getting for their money and whether they are getting their money’s worth.”

According to Timothy Hulbert, President of the Charlottesville Regional Chamber of Commerce, the Chamber chose to underwrite this report to “provide guidance for local officials and citizens alike about the importance of economic vitality statewide.

“This report reminds all of us that we are citizens of the Commonwealth of Virginia. We in Charlottesville are directly impacted by economic forces in the rest of the state,” Hulbert said.

The Free Enterprise Forum is a privately funded, public policy organization.

Fluvanna BOS discusses Water Options & Amphitheater

By. Bryan Rothamel

PALMYRA — Fluvanna Board of Supervisors were briefed during the Jan. 16 meeting on upcoming meetings over water options regarding the Zion Crossroad area and options for the Fork Union Sanitary District system.

The updates were extremely brief during the meeting and more aimed to keep supervisors abreast of the process.

aqua america logoThe county has been discussing two routes to provide water to the Zion Crossroad planning district. The first option being a private-public partnership with Aqua using the Rivanna River station. The second route is to team with the Department of Corrections to use the women’s correctional facility water system.

County officials will meet with the Department of Corrections on Jan. 22. One issue discovered early in the process is the water system is rated for 250,000 gallons per day usage but the permit for the system is 400,000 gallons per day.  The correctional officials will host county administration at the correctional facility for the meeting.

Officials will meet with Aqua on Jan. 24. There was brief discussion concerning Aqua thinking a system would only be viable with 90,000 gallons per day used. The county would have to find potential customers to make the system viable.
Fluvanna BOS 2012


An ongoing water issue that costs the county money each year is the Fork Union Sanitary District (FUSD). FUSD, often pronounced Fuzz-dee during meetings, has old wells that have been worked and reworked to maximize production.

There are well options at the old Thomasville plant that haven’t been used and showed better production than currently used wells. The county does not have use of the wells currently and are discussing the process of obtaining use.

County officials are recommending the county perform two separate hydro studies. One would be on FUSD for an additional well and another on ground water availability for use at Zion Crossroad and Palmyra.

“Fork Union is a critical issue,” said Joe Chesser (Rivanna District). “It is costing us money and the wells aren’t in that good of shape.”

It was discussed if Aqua has been asked again about purchasing FUSD from the county. The general feeling from county staff was they are different issues. It is something supervisor Mozell Booker (Fork Union) is not interested in.

“I just hate to see that on the table now,” said Booker as it was brought up.

Also during the Jan. 16 meeting the supervisors approved submitting a proposal to Bama Works for construction of phase one of the Pleasant Grove Amphitheater. The proposal cannot exceed $60,000. Patricia Groot, grants administrator for the county, noted Bama Works typically does not grant more than $10,000 at a time but exceptions sometimes happen.

Groot also noted Charlottesville Area Community Foundation administers Bama Works. Even if Bama Works only grants $10,000, another benefactor from CACF might contribute to the program.

“We’ve received Bama grants in the past that have been administered properly. They have been satisfied,” said Groot.

The amphitheater would be constructed in two phases. The first phase would construct a stage about the same size as the Carysbrook Performing Arts Center. Phase one would also include enough bench seating for 140 people and additional grass seating.

The second phase would add a shelter area for possible changing rooms and storage, covering over the stage and additional 450 seats seats with less grass seating.

The first phase is expected to cost $59,925. The county has budgeted $5,000 with plans for the remaining funding from grants.

The deadline for the Bama Works grant is Feb. 1. The next Bama Works deadline is Aug. 1.


The Free Enterprise Forum’s coverage of Fluvanna County is provided by a grant from the Charlottesville Area Association of REALTORS® and by the support of readers like you.


Bryan Rothamel covers Fluvanna County for the Free Enterprise Forum.  He is the founder of the Fluco Blog.  Additional writings can be found at

Image credits: Fluvanna County

Greene Planning Commission Moves Capital Improvement Plan On to Supervisors

By. Brent Wilson, Greene County Field Officer

The  Greene County Planning Commission reviewed the submission of the $178 Million dollar five year Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) last Wednesday, January 16th, approved the plan as submitted and moved to pass the CIP on to the Board of Supervisors (Attached is the CIP from 2012 ). The majority of the time on this topic was spent on how to improve the process in future years. Stephanie Golon, Greene’s Planner, updated the Commission with the process this year vs. prior years. This is the first year that all departments in the county had input into the CIP with Golon’s assistance. The CIP is outlined in Greene County’s Comprehensive Plan on pages 45 and 46 .

With the detail that Golon was able to gather, this year will be the first year to have the CIP by line item in the budget.

Chairman Norman Slezak, discussed what the expectations of the Board of Supervisors is from the Planning Commission related to the CIP. Bart Svoboda, Community Development Director, described the Planning Commission’s role as that of the police to ensure that all departments turn in their input for the CIP but not to assign priority to any item.

The Planning Commission discussed forming a committee in the future to work with all departments in securing the information earlier in the budget process. They asked Board of Supervisors liaison Vice-Chairman Davis Lamb, who was present at the meeting, to take the request of having a five member committee comprised of one staff member, one member of the Planning Commission, one Supervisor, Tracy Morris and one member from the public to the Board of Supervisors. Supervisor Lamb agreed with the request and will present it to the Board of Supervisors and asked that a member of the Planning Commission attend that meeting.

The importance of the CIP is two fold . It provides the county a prioritization of needs within the county and is critical to running the county effectively in the future. In addition, the CIP provides the basis for determining the county’s Proffer policy .

[In the interest of full disclosure, this writer served on Greene County’s Planning Commission in 2005 and chaired a taskforce to propose a Greene County’s Proffer policy]. 

While the Free Enterprise Forum is encouraged that all Greene County Departments participated in this year’s CIP process, we question why these departments, for many years refused to do so.    


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

Greene School Board Requests Level Funding

By. Brent Wilson, Field Officer

The Greene County Board of Supervisors and School Board held a joint public input session on Tuesday, January 15th to begin dialogue with the public in anticipation of a difficult budget process.

jim_frydl.jpgJim Frydl (Midway District), Chairman of the Board of Supervisors, started the evening stating the purpose of the meeting was to get feedback from the public on what is important in a time when real estate assessments are down, there are added state and federal requirements and the county must start paying for the water and sewer system. County staff has told the Board of Supervisors of a projected $800,000 to $1 million in lower county revenue, primarily due to reduced property assessment. Greene Treasurer Stephanie Deal reports increases in real estate, personal property and sales taxes that total over $350,000 in 2012 vs. 2011.

Michelle Flynn, Chair of the School Board, made a brief presentation  stating that revenue from the State is projected to decline by $232,000 due to flat enrollment and that Federal sequestration – if it occurs – would reduce Federal funds by $125,000. The presentation noted that “Local tax rate increase will be required just to equalize local revenues due to lower assessment values”.

The largest item presented as a cost cutting option is a reduction of 32 positions that total $913,000. Governor McDonnell has announced a 2% increase in teacher wages but 1% of that increase would have to be paid by the county and that tenure would be extended after 5 years instead of 3 years adds to the School Board’s request.

The total for all projected cuts and cost increases from state and federal sources along with other cost increases such as fuel and insurance came to $675,000. Flynn summarized the reductions to the school budget from 2008 of over $3 million. The School Board is asking that the Board of Supervisors provides the same funding as this year for the 2013/2014 school year.

Following the presentations, it was time to hear from the public. This meeting was quite a different setting than the last time the BOS met the public to talk about budgets. Only 12 citizens spoke on a variety of issues from the school system, JABA , the Senior Center , the Shelter for Help and Emergency and the Greene County Public Library . Two of the speakers asked for more information related to the school system – how much needs to be cut, how much would cutting athletics contribute, how is the school budget spent, etc. One speaker asked not to have taxes raised as it makes it hard for seniors on fixed income.

The other speakers gave comments to support their organizations. Kiki Flood didn’t want to see any budget cut and wants the schools to get increased funding. Karen Fisk from the Greene County Library asked that their hours of operation be expanded by eight hours a week to better match the need from Piedmont Virginia Community College  classes starting in the upstairs of their building. The final speaker was David Morris who grew up in Greene and went on to earn a masters degree and had a career in social work. He has moved back to Greene and supports putting education on a high priority as it is preparing our kids for tomorrow.

Each member of the Board of Supervisors and School Board then summarized the meeting. Flynn thanked the Board of Supervisors for attending and invited the public to their workshop on January 23rd.

Supervisor Davis Lamb (Ruckersville) commented on the poor ranking of US students in the world  and that we must improve.

Supervisor "Buggs" Peyton

Supervisor “Buggs” Peyton

Supervisor Clarence “Buggs” Peyton (Stanardsville)  expressed concern about the reduction in assessed value of property and subsequent reduction in property tax revenue. He felt this year will come down to cutting spending or raising taxes. Last year the reserve fund was depleted and Greene County now needs to be conservative in its spending. His final comment was that he wouldn’t support an increase in the tax rate and he wouldn’t compromise his beliefs unless the schools were seriously in jeopardy.

Finally, BOS Chairman Frydl commented that the Board of Supervisors is scheduled to receive an update on the reserve fund in February.  His final comment was that we all will have to do more with less and believes that most citizens in Greene County will be disappointed in the budget as there is less revenue available and more demands from the state.

The Free Enterprise Forum applauds the two boards to begin the dialogue in this difficult process early. While the number of speakers was significantly reduced from the hearing held this Spring, including the public as a vested third party is critical.

Hopefully, the two elected board retain this level of communication and transparency.  The next few months of the budget will include several ups and downs regarding proposed state and federal funding. 

In addition, citizens and elected officials  must understand the fiscal impacts of reduced property assessment.  While many, perhaps most, citizens, would prefer to pay lower taxes; the locality must balance its budget.  If revenue is reduced, spending on local government services, including schools, will be impacted. 

The annual budget question is how the Board of Supervisors chooses to balance spending and revenue.  The fact that the School Board and Citizens are both engaged at this stage of the process is a good thing.  Will they maintain this level of communication and transparency?  Will citizens remain engaged in the byzantine budget process?  Stay tuned.


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

Faulty Fluvanna Revenue Projection

By.  Bryan Rothamel

PALMYRA — The Fluvanna Board of Supervisors were briefed on a reported accounting error in anticipated tax revenue streams for the fiscal year 2013 budget.

To compound the accounting error, the state also lowered assessments of public utility real property. Some of that money will be recouped in fiscal year 2014 because of the revenue-neutral tax rate of county reassessment.

It was stressed the error did not result in county residents being taxed incorrectly, just anticipated revenues being calculated incorrectly.

The county receives tax revenues from various property in the county. A basic breakdown includes real property and personal property. From that, there are machinery, mobile homes, public utilities real property and public utilities personal property along with real property (homes/land) and personal property (cars/RVs).

The FY13 budget included some figures in the wrong categories that lead to the supervisors building a budget from incorrect numbers. These numbers were reportedly given by the Commissioner of Revenue, Mel Sheridan.

kenney_200px“The Commissioner of Revenue sets the foundation. We go ahead and build a budget off that foundation. The Treasurer collects based off that budget. When there is a hiccup in the very beginning of that process, you can see how could very quickly trickle down,” said chairman Shaun Kenney (Columbia District).

The real property category for property privately owned in the county (not including public utilities) did not include tax relief for the elderly and veterans. This created an over-budgeted figured of $224,740.
The mobile homes and machinery were placed in the personal property category. This resulted in an over-budgeted figure of $117,641.

The category for mobile homes did not include the correct property values. The correction created $610 of additional non-budgeted revenues. The machinery category was also too low for property values. The correct figure was an additional $261 more than budgeted.
Also, the personal property tax of public utilities will have an increase in projected revenue. The additional amount is $41,091 to the budgeted revenues.

The state has reassessed public utility property. This is a figure the state does completely separate from the county’s reassessment schedule. The reassessment from the state subtracted $231,181 from projected revenues. This is taxed at the county’s tax rate, regardless of the county assessment schedule.  Currently, it will be taxed at $.5981 per $100 assessed. Once the county’s reassessment is complete, the revenue-neutral rate for the entire county will be $.8140 per $100 assessed. While county residents will not see much change in their personal tax contribution, public utilities assessment will not change.

Plainly, the state keeps assessments independent of the tax rate of the county. Even if the county reassess, the state assessment stays the same. Any increase in tax rate, even if neutral to private property, will cause the public utilities to pay more.

Including the public utility reassessment to the accounting errors, the FY13 budget incorrectly projected revenues by $531,600. That difference will have to be made up either by cutting spending or using the fund balance account.

The county has just refinanced the new high school bonds. It will result in a savings of $1.6 million for this current fiscal year, FY13.

“If you say anything could at a better time, I don’t know if that’s a good thing to say or not, but it is better to come now when we know we do have the money, extra funds,” said Mozell Booker (Fork Union District).

If the fund balance account is used for routine budget items, board policy is to replenish it the next year. Using the projected revenue neutral rate of $0.814 per $100 assessed and using the total budget deficit of $531,600, the FY14 budget will have to include two cents (on the $.814 rate) to make up the difference.

“Being two cents behind before getting into FY14’s budget. If those numbers are real, we are looking at the real number being 83 maybe 84 [cent real property tax rate]. That’s before we start looking at new programs and increasing the school budget. We are behind the 8-ball to start with,” said Bob Ullenbruch (Palmyra District).

The two-cent figure is one Ullenbruch brought up during the presentation as well. Projected revenue per penny is anticipated to be between $260,000 to $270,000 in the revenue-neutral tax rate.
“We need to be putting two cents for something else, not for that,” said Booker who last year wanted a higher tax rate than was adopted.

Supervisors have requested Sheridan present how the issue occurred and what is happening to correct it in the future. County administrator Steve Nichols said after the meeting he doesn’t think it will affect previous years budgets, noting they were all audited and balanced each year. Officials are looking at previous budgets.
He also said this is only a projected revenue issue, not a taxing issue. When asked by Kenney if county residents were incorrectly taxed, Nichols said no, that everyone was taxed correctly. Revenues were just budgeted incorrectly.

The next Board of Supervisors meeting is Feb. 9 at 2 p.m. Nichols will present his County Administrator proposed budget.


The Free Enterprise Forum’s coverage of Fluvanna County is provided by a grant from the Charlottesville Area Association of REALTORS® and by the support of readers like you.


Bryan Rothamel covers Fluvanna County for the Free Enterprise Forum.  He is the founder of the Fluco Blog.  Additional writings can be found at

Fluco Blog Partners with Free Enterprise Forum


Bryan Rothamel’s Fluco Blog Partners with Free Enterprise Forum

Charlottesville, VA – The Free Enterprise Forum and the Fluco Blog today announced a partnership to share news content. Under the agreement, articles written by Fluco Blog founder Bryan Rothamel will appear on the Free Enterprise Forum Blog and in their other internet publications.

“There is a need for timely local news in Fluvanna County,” Rothamel said, “With their presence at local government meetings; the Free Enterprise Forum has improved the understanding of the issues.”

In 2009, Rothamel started Fluco Blog as a side project. Fluco Blog grew to the most read news website in Fluvanna County. After two years, Rothamel took a break. The Fluco Blog returned on November 15, 2012.

“Bryan’s knowledge and understanding of Fluvanna issues is without peer in local media,” said Free Enterprise Forum President Neil Williamson. “While the organization will take positions on Fluvanna policy issues, Bryan will continue to use his journalistic skill to bring all sides of the story to the public” Williamson concluded.

The Free Enterprise Forum, now celebrating its first decade of service, is a privately funded, nonprofit, nonpartisan, public policy organization focused on local government in Central Virginia. Their coverage of Fluvanna, Louisa and Greene is funded by a grant from the Charlottesville Area Association of REALTORS®.

Population Growth Report or Manifesto?

By. Neil Williamson, President

This morning’s Daily Progress included an article outlining a report written by Craig Evans considering the fiscal costs and benefits of growth.  This report is underwritten by a local population control advocacy group, Advocates for a Sustainable Albemarle Population (ASAP).  The Free Enterprise Forum was contacted by the paper and asked to provide comment.  Brian Wheeler quotes us accurately in the well written article.  Below is the entirety of our statement on the issue of this troubled “report”.

The Free Enterprise Forum believes the Evans report while seemingly accurate in its limited financial analysis fails to recognize the indirect, but calculable, economic benefits of population expansion. The Free Enterprise Forum is concerned the “Counting the Costs and Benefits of Growth Analysis” report by Craig Evans is flawed in design and unfairly prejudiced in its analysis and conclusions.

Much of the Evans report reads significantly more like a political manifesto rather than an academic thesis. Using such terms as “Race to the Bottom” and describing developers as “Speculative Enterprises” do not add to the academic credibility of the report and fails to recognize developers as the very businesses who take the financial risk to bring the community’s comprehensive plan to life.

Taken at face value, the Evans report indicates that the County and City lose roughly $.25 for every dollar collected in residential tax revenue. In FY2011, the City posted a $3.8 Million dollar surplus. How is that possible?

According to NBC29, “The [FY2011] surplus came from a couple of different places. First, the city saved money during the last fiscal year when expenses came in $2.9 million under budget. On top of that, the city collected $900,000 more revenue than expected in 2012 – largely from a spike in sales, meals and lodging taxes”. Only by recognizing the indirect benefit of and important symbiotic relationship between population and revenue producing commercial activities can you reconcile this anomaly.

The Evans report fails to calculate the considerable value of population to economic vitality. It is established that “Retail follows Rooftops” and revenue follows retail. One need only look to Greene County’s recent increase in retail square footage that followed the residential expansion. In addition the retail sales tax local option has increased exponentially in Greene County since the establishment of the retail centers.

In its most telling omission, the Evans Report fails to recognize that every locality in the state must produce a balanced budget. Property Taxes are set by elected officials after consideration of ALL revenue sources. While the property taxes generated by individual homeowners may not cover Evans cost calculations, these same citizens generate the economic activity [sales tax, commercial tax, machine/tool taxes] that allows the locality to keep property taxes lower because of commercial activity.

One thrust of the Evans report is that growth comes with costs. Taken in isolation this is a true statement but when one considers the economic opportunities and advancements such growth also provides.

The Evans report cites Loudoun County as an example of rampant growth and it is true their government spending has accelerated significantly to meet the needs of their community. At one point Loudoun was building a high school a year to keep up with growth in student population. Late last year, Loudoun County was named by the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey as the county with the highest median income per household in the nation. With a median income of more than $119,000, Loudoun households generate almost twice the income than Albemarle households. Yes, there is a cost to growth but the benefits far outweigh the costs.

Paraphrasing Aaron Levenstein, “Statistics are like bikinis. While what they reveal is suggestive, what they conceal is vital”.

Respectfully Submitted

Neil Williamson, President


20070731williamson Neil Williamson is the President of The Free Enterprise Forum, a privately funded public policy organization covering the City of Charlottesville as well as Albemarle, Greene, Fluvanna, Louisa and Nelson County.  For more information visit the website