Monthly Archives: February, 2013

Contradictory Consequences White Paper Released

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

“Contradictory Consequences” White Paper Examines Cash Proffers Unintended Negative Impacts

Charlottesville, VA – A new white paper outlines significant negative economic and ecological impacts of cash proffers on community development in Central Virginia.

The Free Enterprise Forum’s “Contradictory Consequences” draws on statewide research and case studies to illustrate the challenges implementing a cash proffer program.

The Albemarle County Fiscal Impact Review Committee is scheduled to discuss recalculating their cash proffer program in March. The committee has been instructed by staff that their role is not to consider the policy discussion but only the mathematical calculation of the proffer amount. The “Contradictory Consequences” paper calls on the Board of Supervisors to “Repeal the Rezoning Ransom”. Specific negative impacts of cash proffers illustrated in the paper include:

· reduced land value

· reduced property tax revenue

· increased “by right” development

· false financial hope

· reduced economic vitality

· reduced adherence to Comprehensive Plan

· increased pressure on rural areas

· increased leapfrog development.

Free Enterprise Forum President Neil Williamson said, “Localities across the Commonwealth are waking up to recognize the siren’s song of cash proffers is too good to be true. Now is the time to contemplate significant proffer reform. Our research suggests repeal of Cash Proffers will result in increased economic vitality and adherence to the comprehensive clip_image0024_thumb.pngplan.

“Perhaps the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors, and other localities, will take a fresh look at what they are really getting from the cash proffer program and how this policy negatively impacts their vision for the future. Our goal with this independent research is to reach out to the community and start this important discussion,” Williamson said.

“Contradictory Consequences” was written and researched by Free Enterprise Forum President Neil Williamson. Tracking local government since 2002, Williamson’s examination generated a well documented, balanced review of the many legal issues and economic concerns surrounding implementation of a cash proffer policy.

The Free Enterprise Forum is a privately funded, public policy organization. The entire report can be accessed under the reports tab at www.freeenterpriseforum.org.

Fluvanna Administrator Proposes Examining Groundwater

By. Bryan Rothamel

Included in the Fluvanna County administrator’s proposed budget capital improvements plan is a hydrogeologic study.

Hydrogeologic study is examining the distribution, occurrence and effect of groundwater. Steve Nichols, county administrator, included this study because of how important he feels groundwater can be.

groundwater - Credit State of California

The CIP has not been approved, and up until the last Board of Supervisors meeting it wasn’t publicly discussed by the board. However, the hydrogeologic study was brought up.

The study is proposed for $50,000 to pay for the study. County administration suggests studying the Zion Crossroad, Palmyra and Fork Union planning areas for water.

Nichols told the board he didn’t believe groundwater was useful until he heard a presentation from a groundwater expert.

Nichols said if the board wasn’t a believer in usefulness of groundwater, just look across the county line in Louisa. The Zion Crossroad area is supported with groundwater, he said.

He mentioned the advantages to groundwater is once the the source is tapped, it is much more cost effective than surface water. It is cleaner, requiring less, if not no, treatment to serve.

There could be massive amounts of water in the ground that the county just needs to, literally, tap into. It could be the most cost effective way to start a water system at Zion Crossroad before larger sources are used.

The county also will need to add a new well to the Fork Union Sanitary District. FUSD is supported by wells that are aging. If a catastrophic failure happens to one of the operating wells, the county does not have a contingency plan currently.

A well could operate a Palmyra water system. Reportedly, Palmyra already has pipes in the ground. The system could serve the various government entities.

Nichols told the board he would like to have a water engineer present at an upcoming meeting reasons why using groundwater is sometimes a better option. He said it could turn them into a ‘believer’ also.

The supervisors are scheduled to approve the FY14 budget and capital improvement plan on April 17. Anything in the plan for Fiscal Year 2014 is approved for funding. Anything in the plan past FY14 is planned for but not approved for funding, unless it is in connection with an FY14 item.

The next Board of Supervisor meeting is Feb. 27. It is a work session to hear presentations from nonprofit and regional agencies. The meeting will start at 6 p.m.

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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

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

Image Credit: State of California

Fluvanna County Draft Budget Released

By. Bryan Rothamel

Steve Nichols, Fluvanna County Administrator

Steve Nichols, Fluvanna County Administrator

The budget cycle starts in November but the true discussion amongst the supervisors starts in February with the County Administrator presenting a budget. This staff drafted budget can help shape the conversation.

This budget could fall flat and the supervisors start drafting individual budgets to lead the conversation, as in recent years.

“I think [the budget presentation] was a nice, comfortable, clean process for a starting point. The real work now begins. At least they have a starting point and they were receptive to it,” said Nichols.

Nichols presented a budget that includes a slight tax decrease for real property owners in the county.

Fiscal year 2013′s real property (also known as simply the real estate tax) was $0.5981 per $100 assessed. Because of the reassessment period, that rate is now equalized to $0.81 per $100 assessed.

Nichols’ budget has a real property rate of $0.79 per $100 assessed and keeping the personal property tax rate at $4.15 per $100 assessed.

The budget presented Wednesday decreases revenues by $2.6 million. The majority of the ‘revenue’ lost by using $2.8 million less funds from the county savings, known as the ‘fund balance.’

There would however be a slight increase in property tax revenue, because of things like public utilities now being taxed at a higher rate. The public utilities are not subject to the county’s reassessment period. They are reassessed every year by the state and then just taxed at the local rate.

The yearly assessment does not change much but the county will now tax that property at an additional $0.20 per $100 assessed.

The expenditures of the county have also decreased in Nichols’ budget. Savings in this budget include $571,000 less in debt service, mainly because of the bond refinancing.

The Nichols Budget also has schools getting $13.2 million. Last year the schools were budgeted for $12.5 million but received $13.5 million after additional stopgap appropriations were made over the course of the year.

The largest savings of expenditures Nichols has is a reduction in capital projects. The county has completed costly projects like narrowbanding and has set aside money for replacement of the emergency services radio equipment, a project that had been waiting years to be completed. That project alone was budgeted for $4 million in FY13′s capital improvements plan.

Nichols’ budget also contains changes to the staff health plan and salary adjustments for staff including cost of living increases.

“It is time. We need to take care of our staff. They haven’t been well enough take care of. It’s not that everybody deserves 50 percent pay raises, I don’t mean that at all. We just need to have an iterative process that runs over multiple years and this year is the time to start that,” said Nichols.

The capital improvements plan includes funding for an amphitheater, public safety projects like replacement of phone equipment at the 911 center and water projects including the first state of a water system in the Zion Crossroad area. School projects in the CIP are a new electronic financial system to be inline with the county financial system, renovations at Carysbrook Elementary School and money for school busses.

Now the supervisors get their crack at the budget in earnest. Feb. 13 is a scheduled work session for revenue and expenditures plus hearing agency presentations. Nichols thinks he at least has given them something that can easily be implemented.

“I much prefer giving them something that is doable. If they want to go up from that or down from that, it is certainly their choice. But I wanted to give them something that is doable,” said Nichols.

The Feb. 13 work session is slated to start at 7 p.m. in the Fluvanna Circuit Courtroom.

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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

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

Image Credit: Fluvanna County

Fluvanna Budget Proposal To Reduce Taxes

By. Bryan Rothamel

PALMYRA – The Fluvanna County Board of Supervisors will be presented with a budget on Wednesday that decreases taxes, according to several sources close to the budget process.

The budget proposal will increase school funding, by comparison to last year’s budget. It will not increase it higher than what was additionally given over the course of the past year.

The sources were anonymous because they were not authorized to release budget information before the presentation scheduled for the 2 p.m. Feb. 6 meeting.

The real estate tax rate for fiscal year 2013 is $0.5981 per $100 assessed value. The equalized rate after reassessment is $0.81 per $100 assessed.

Reportedly, the budget proposed by Steve Nichols, county administrator, will call for a $0.79 tax rate. This would be a slight decrease in taxes.

The proposed budget also includes roughly $13.2 million for the school system. Last year the school district received $12.5 million in the budget. In May the schools were appropriated $600,000 for one time use. Then in November the supervisors voted to appropriate $300,000 to be taken out of fiscal year 2014.

The total funding for FY13, including all appropriations, roughly came to $13.4 million. However, the November deal created a baseline budget of $12.2 for FY14. The FY14 baseline budget does not include any appropriations and takes out the November compromise.

Using the information from the sources, the proposed FY14 funding would increase from the baseline by $1 million.

The proposed budget, reportedly, also includes funding for county employee raises and some funding for non-profit groups, although the sources wouldn’t fully describe how much.

Fork Union supervisor Mozell Booker wouldn’t comment directly on the administrator’s budget until it is presented on Feb. 6 but said, “I’m going to be advocating for more than $12 million (FY13 school funding level).”

Booker also said she wants to see raises for employees, career tech courses at Fluvanna County High School and funding for non-profits and core services (fire, rescue and Sheriff’s Office).

Bob Ullenbrunch (Palmyra District) also would not comment on the administrator’s budget proposal until Wednesday but said, “I am looking closely at funding for the senior center and parks and rec [sic], along with proper pay increases for the Sheriff Department employees. We need to get them up to levels for employment longevity.”

He also commented he wanted to see what the School Board needed and wanted for FY14.

Chairman Shaun Kenney (Columbia District) declined to comment on the budget process at this time.

Nichols could not comment on the budget until it is presented to the board during the Feb. 6 meeting. The 2 p.m. meeting will have a full presentation plus handouts available. At that time, the proposed budget will also be publicly available on the county’s website.

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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

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