By Bryan Rothamel, Field Officer
After debating the issue for decades, Fluvanna County is one step closer to providing water in the Zion Crossroads area.
The Board of Supervisors previously put aside $575,000 in a Capital Improvement Plan to develop a water system for Zion Crossroads (ZXR) planning area. The county spent about $45,000 for the water infrastructure report from RK&K.
On March 4 the Board of Supervisors voted 3-2 to pursue two ZXR water related items, Don Weaver (Cunningham District) and Bob Ullenbruch (Palmyra District) dissented.
From the RK&K report, the supervisors voted to implement short-term recommendations. The recommendations are designing a water and sewer system starting from the Department of Corrections facility on Route 250, going east to the Route 15 intersection, then back towards Palmyra for a mile. The design should include phasing to show possible cost-benefits.
Supervisors also directed staff to develop how the public works system would operate.
“We need to move forward,” said chairwoman Mozell Booker (Fork Union District).
The vote was in doubt for much of the debate. Ullenbruch, who vocally supported the system during the last two work sessions where RK&K presented. During the debate he advocated waiting until the budget and tax rate was more predictable than what was advertised.
His issue resided over how the system will be paid for. Supervisors later will have to formally decide how to pay for a water system.
It is estimated the system will cost $8 million. With it being financed, it will increase debt service by $655,000 a year, on a 10-year average.
“I want to see where we are at in FY16 budget before I can move [over two cents for FY17’s budget],” said Ullenbruch. “The probability of me being here (next year) is 50/50, in my mind. I don’t want to do that [to someone else].”
Weaver also raised issue with the county’s debt load and corresponding tax rate.
“We are at 93.5 cents (advertised real estate tax rate) now? We are going to add to that [for next year]? Is that what that this board wants to do?” said Weaver.
“If we want to get out of increasing tax rates, then we need to invest,” said Tony O’Brien (Rivanna District).
When the debate prolonged into potentially delaying a vote on it, O’Brien questioned if shaving the advertised tax rate this year or not really matters.
“If three of us believe this is a losing proposition, let’s just stop right now,” said O’Brien.
Weaver again invoked the debt the county currently burdens, all of which has happened with him on the board but most, especially the high school debt, did not involve his voting support.
O’Brien questioned when supervisors, including Weaver, ever put aside money to plan for the construction that occurred. He asked how the board planned to replace an aging high school without financing it. He concluded the only plan was to finance.
“When did you vote to put aside money for the new high school?” said O’Brien.
Booker, fearing the board would again not vote on ZXR water, said, “You all are backing up again.”
O’Brien made the motion and Mike Sheridan (Columbia District) seconded it. The design should be completed within the next three to four months.
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Photo Credit(s): Fluvanna County