By Bryan Rothamel, Field Officer
The Fluvanna County Board of Supervisors got its wish on March 18. Thanks to five hours of work session within the week preceding, the board voted unanimously to advertise a $68 million budget that includes tax increases in both real estate and personal property.
The advertised budget requires a real estate tax rate of $0.899 per $100 assessed and a personal property rate of $4.35 per $100 assessed to balance. The previously discussed increase in fees were not included.
“Everything we have a demand or need for is taken care of,” said Don Weaver (Cunningham District) during the work session just before the regular session.
The board did add a slight pay increase for employees to 1.5 percent. Before it was just one percent. That came to a total of $6,722. It was added by subtracting it from the school budget, a proposal put by Tony O’Brien (Rivanna District).
From the County Administrators’ budget proposal, Fluvanna supervisors added funding for JAUNT, Region 10, staff raises and school funding. They added positions in the E911 center, Department of Social Services and Commonwealth Attorney’s office. They took away the 10 percent operational cut.
“You all did a good job at holding the line,” said Steve Nichols, county administrator.
“There are times I walk away (from meetings) where I don’t feel proud but walking away last week, I did,” said Mike Sheridan (Columbia District) about the four and a half hour work session that hammered the budget out to get a unanimous vote.
In a sign of togetherness, Bob Ullenbruch (Palmyra District) made the motion and O’Brien seconded it.
Supervisors will hold a public hearing on the increased real estate tax rate on April 1. The budget public hearing will be April 8 and supervisors are set to formally adopt the budget and tax rates on April 15.
According to Virginia state code, the advertised budget and tax rates can only decrease, not increase.
The fee increases previously contemplated by the Board were not increased because there is debate if the amount Fluvanna currently charges is the state mandated ceiling. While other localities charge more but the county attorney believes a conservative view of the law puts Fluvanna at the ceiling.
Fluvanna could increase fees by differentiating based on weight of vehicles. Because of the uncertainty of the fees, supervisors will take up the issue later this year. Unlike taxes that must be completed in the established budget calendar, fees can be increased at any time during the year, with proper public notice.
Not increasing the fees left revenue $100,000 short but supervisors will use the county’s savings to fill the hole until a resolution can occur on the fee structure.
Also at the March 18 meeting, supervisors voted to allow itself to charge for ambulance transport services. The ordinance paves the path to rescue cost recovery coming to the county. Supervisors have not voted to start rescue cost recovery, yet.
Fluvanna supervisors also rezoned land in the Zion Crossroads area to I-2. This will allow for other various forms of industry including companies that require heavy water use.
Industries that can use treated sewer discharge is an industry Fluvanna is very interested in. It helps lower the nutrients that are put back into the water shed.
The land that was rezoned is near and downstream from the correctional facility that the county has an agreement to treat sewer for a Zion Crossroads water system.
In a related note, supervisors will have a work session on water for the proposed Zion Crossroads system and the current Fork Union’s system tentatively scheduled for May but a date hasn’t been selected.
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.
Photo Credits: Fluvanna County