By. Bryan Rothamel, Field Officer
After giving the county attorney time to revise the Public–Private Educational Facilities Infrastructure Act (PPEA) contract with Aqua, the Fluvanna Board of Supervisors unanimously voted to send a new offer to water service company.
Fred Payne, county attorney, briefed the supervisors on changes he recommend to the last iteration of the contract before the two sides stepped away. His changes were based on four key points: constitutionality, more reasonable protection for the county, fulfilling requirements of the PPEA and good practice of contract law.
The changes were specific to changes to the water and sewer lines contracts. The most common change was to give more protection to the county in regards to how the agreement might terminate in various ways. Previous versions of the contracts required Fluvanna to pay Aqua or its subsidiaries, even if both sides agreed to terminate the contract early.
Another notable changes were specifying venue of legal dispute to Fluvanna’s Circuit Court or elsewhere only if permissible by law, lowering the threshold of commitments to begin the water service contract and wording regarding appropriation versus financial obligation.
In regards to minimum commitments to begin the service agreement, Payne suggested reverting to an original wording of 15,000 gallons a day from a minimum of 30 households. Previously, the agreement required 120,000 gallons of water a day commitment to move the contract past early stages. The lower threshold will allow Fluvanna to start the contract and organically grow development.
Wording and penalties of failure of re-appropriation of funds were changed to move away from obligation on the county’s part.
Now the supervisors have approved to send the offer to Aqua for consideration, the contract and working documents will be available for public consumption. http://fluvannacounty.org/content/documents/BOS/Packages/2013/00%20-%20Package%202013-12-04%20Addendum%20-%20Aqua%20Agreements.pdf
The likelihood of the contract being accepted in current form by Aqua is low; perhaps even lower than when the Aqua deal was resurrected in November. Payne noted some items changed were discussed previously and might not a big deal to change. However there are more drastic changes, such as shift of financial responsibility after a terminated contract, that have not been negotiated.
Even if Aqua does accept the deal, the Fluvanna Board of Supervisors will have to approve the contract. Such approval will include supervisors-elect Mike Sheridan (Columbia District) and Tony O’Brien (Rivanna District) in the New Year.
In other board news, the supervisors bid farewell to Joe Chesser (Rivanna District) and chairman Shaun Kenney (Columbia District) after four years of service. Supervisors also unanimously approved a special use permit for a commercial kennel in the Bybee area.
The only presentation was a briefing on the annual audit of the county finances. Of note, the county has $99.717 million worth of debt. The county is projected to pay of the debt by 2036. FY2013, which ended in June, saw the highest sales tax revenue for Fluvanna.
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