Monthly Archives: March, 2016

RWSA Executive Director Resigns

From RWSA/RSWA:

For Immediate Release

Rivanna’s Executive Director Accepts Deputy General Manager of Loudoun Water

March 22, 2016 — After nearly twelve years of service as the Executive Director of Rivanna

Tom-Frederick-Head-Shot2-230x300

Tom Frederick

Water and Sewer Authority and Rivanna Solid Waste Authority, Tom Frederick has accepted a new position as Deputy General Manager of Loudoun Water.  He will remain at Rivanna through the end of April.

 

Among his accomplishments are the transformation of the Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority’s rundown and aging wastewater transmission and treatment infrastructure to the renewed and advanced treatment facilities that exist today; the successful development and approval of the 50-year water supply plan for the community which included the completed expansion of the Ragged Mountain Reservoir; and the growth of the financial integrity of the organization, as recognized by multiple bond rating increases, which made these capital improvements possible. Also under his tenure, the Solid Waste Authority implemented an effective corrective action plan for the closed Ivy landfill containing groundwater contamination and eliminating odors, restoring trust with neighbors of the Ivy site.

“I am extremely grateful to the Rivanna Authorities Boards of Directors, the citizens of Charlottesville and Albemarle, and Rivanna’s management team and employees, for the opportunity to serve,” said Mr. Frederick. “The past twelve years have been a wonderful time for personal and career growth, and are full of memories.  I’m honored by the team’s many accomplishments.  The offer I now accept could not have been possible without my experience here.”

 

Board Chairman, Mike Gaffney, stated, “We would have loved to have Tom retire from the Rivanna Authorities many years from now, but we are grateful that he has been with us for these past twelve years.  I know he wasn’t out looking for other opportunities, but I wasn’t surprised that opportunities came looking for him.  We wish him the best in his new position with Loudoun and thank him for all hard work and dedication to our community.”

 

Mr. Frederick has been a leader in the water industry for over 30 years.  He currently serves on the board of directors for the Virginia Water and Waste Authorities Association (immediate past president and current treasurer) and the Virginia Association of Municipal Wastewater Agencies (current secretary). He is also a member of the Global Water Leaders Group, a cluster of water utility CEOs representing combined water service to over 1 billion people. Recently he was appointed by the Director of the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality to the Eastern Virginia Groundwater Management Advisory Committee for his expertise in water supply management.  This past month, he was appointed by Governor McAuliffe to a nine-person committee to address how to better utilize the nutrient exchange program for economic development in Virginia without compromising the Chesapeake Bay water quality goals.

 

Loudoun Water is a public agency with approximately 260 employees providing comprehensive drinking water and wastewater services to over 65,000 households in the rapidly growing designated development area of Loudoun County, Virginia, including the communities of Ashburn, Sterling, Brambleton, and Broadlands to the north and west of Dulles International Airport.

 

The Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority Board of Directors has elected to appoint Lonnie Wood, the current Director of Finance and Administration, as Interim Executive Director and will began a national search to fill the permanent Executive Director position.

 

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Fluvanna Advertising 4+ Cent Tax Increase

By. Bryan Rothamel, Field Officer

The Fluvanna County Board of Supervisors went ahead with the plan to advertise a budget justifying a tax increase of over four cents.

It was approved on a 3-2 vote with Don Weaver (Cunningham District) and Patricia Eager (Palmyra District) dissenting.

The advertised budget was as promised with a real estate tax rate of $0.94 per $100 assessed and a personal property rate the same as last year at $4.35 per $100 assessed.

The budget included increases that were outlined from the last work session but included an extra penny of real estate taxes that was placed in a capital depreciation fund.

The extra penny was included because supervisors can set a tax rate lower than the advertised rate but not higher. The extra penny is in case something occurs unforeseen before the final budget is passed on April 20.

Still, the county is struggling without diversifying the tax base. That’s a hope with the two approved water projects but final details of the Zion Crossroads system will be approved later.

“We can’t continue to get to the point where we keep raising rates,” said Eager.

Tony O’Brien (Rivanna District) said, “I think we are offering value by investing in the county.”

The fear Eager raised was next year there will be built-in increases because of the water projects’ costs will start coming due.

“I think we have to be responsible,” said Eager in anticipation of those additional expected expenditures in FY18.

Weaver wasn’t happy with advertising a tax rate and especially not happy about the additional penny added to budget for a ‘just in case’ scenario. “You are just opening the door to do whatever you want,” said Weaver.

Fluvanna Supervisor Tony O'Brien

Fluvanna Supervisor Tony O’Brien

The heated discussion concluded with O’Brien wanting to see what the tax rate would be if the land use tax was rolled back. That would bring in additional tax revenue but would discourage keeping large land rural unless you could afford the regular rate taxes.

County staff has shown budget scenarios that has various tax rates, including no tax increase from last year’s $0.899. The scenarios step up all the way to $0.94.

The supervisors will have an additional work session on March 23 on the budget. It will be held at the Fork Union Community Center on Route 15 at 7 p.m. It cannot be held in Palmyra because of the Planning Commission needing to use the Morris Room. The courthouse has a case scheduled.

“Sounds like next Wednesday will be interesting,” said chairman Mike Sheridan (Columbia District).

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bryan-rothamelThe 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

Greene PC approves Barn at Edgewood Farm SUP

 

Scott and Julie Winslow own over 140 acres on Beazley Road with a tremendous mountain views in Greene County. In addition to their farm operation, they also hold a Special Use Permit (SUP) for part of their property to host weddings and other events. At the March 16th meeting of the Planning Commission they requested a second SUP for a Bed and Breakfast in an existing duplex near the “Barn at Edgewood Farm”.

Bart Svoboda, Greene County’s Planning Administrator outlined the request of SUP #16-001. The request must not change the character of the area and he further explained that, per the Comprehensive Plan, the project must preserve the scenic, historical, cultural and natural resources that are crucial to tourism.

Svoboda believes that this project supports the Comprehensive Plan and recommends approval of the SUP with the following conditions:

1) No guest shall reside more than 30 days in a 365 day period

2) Lighting fixtures shall be aimed not to produce disability glare and shall have cutoff fixtures

3) A sketch plan is required prior to the operation of the facility

Owner Scott Winslow then addressed the Planning Commission and outlined the two parcels – the larger one being the farm with barn and two apartments. The smaller lot (2.64 acres) is the one that the SUP is being requested.

Two adjoining neighbors spoke in the public hearing. Ed Yensho thanked Winslow for being a good neighbor and stated he is a strong proponent of property rights. He and his family moved to this part of Greene County to enjoy the beautiful countryside of Greene.  Yensho’s property looks at the back yard of Winslow’s property and he supports the SUP with the following restrictions:

1) Events limited to not more than 150 people

2) Events limited to 2 weekends per month

3) Outdoor sound to stop at 10 p.m.

4) Cars to leave by midnight

5) Lights off by midnight

6) Install parking area with a brim to control runoff

The second neighbor to speak was Sandra West who has lived there 16 years. She expressed many of the same concerns as Yensho and also moved there for the peace and tranquility.

The hearing then shifted to the commissioners with Chairman Jay Willer asking Svoboda what is allowed by right in Ag Tourism zoned land.  Svoboda indicated that 200 vehicle trips/day, a maximum of attendees and a maximum of a 4,000 sf. area. Music requires a zoning certificate. If either more than 400 people or 4,000 sf. are requested then a SUP is required.

Commissioner Vic Schaff asked if weddings are allowed by right in an Ag Tourism area and Svoboda responded that are. Willer asked Winslow if would be willing to plant screening landscaping to limit the visibility of his  property from his neighbors.  Winslow felt that he could.

Winslow then addressed the Planning Commission and committed to the stopping of amplified outdoor noise by 10 pm and he will try to be a good neighbor as he believes he has been in the past. With that comment, the Planning Commission recommended approval of the Special Use Permit unanimously with the following conditions:

1) The unit will be in the existing accessory building

2) The unit will consist of a duplex –two family dwelling

3) No guest will stay more than 30 days in a 365 day period

4) Outdoor lighting will be aimed so as to not produce glare and shall be cutoff lights

5) A sketch plan is required prior to the operation of the facility

As with all Special Use Permits heard by the Planning Commission, this will be passed on to the Board of Supervisors who will have the final approval.

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 www.freeenterpriseforum.org

Photo Credits: Barn at Edgewood Farm

You Say You Want A Resolution

By. Neil Williamson, President

Adapted from “other matters from the public” comments presented to the Albemarle County Planning Commission March 15, 2016

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March 3, 2013 Editorial calling for the end of Cash Proffers

At the very end of last week’s Albemarle County Planning Commission meeting, with just two people in the audience, Deputy County Attorney Greg Kamptner indicated he would be bringing you a resolution of intent to repeal Albemarle’s current cash proffer system (which will be illegal effective July 1, 2016) and to start the process of developing a cash proffer policy that adheres to the new state code.

While such an item did not appear on the online agenda available to the public, the Free Enterprise Forum offers an alternative resolution for your consideration, that I would like to read into the record.

RESOLUTION OF INTENT

WHEREAS, the Cash Proffer Policy for Public Facilities was adopted as part of the County’s Comprehensive Plan on October 10, 2007 so that all new rezoning that include residential development would pay for the equivalent of their full impact; and

WHEREAS, last Monday evening, March 7th Governor McAuliffe signed SB549 which invalidates Albemarle County’s fundamentally flawed fiscal methodology currently being used to calculate the Cash Proffer Policy for Public Facilities, and

WHEREAS, Cash Proffers are an unreliable, inappropriate ‘welcome stranger’ tax that encourages by right development in direct conflict with Albemarle County’s Comprehensive Plan, and

WHEREAS,  We, the Albemarle County Planning Commission, and the Fiscal Impact Advisory Committee have wasted over eighteen months and failed to yet act on the General Assembly’s 2013 Cash Proffer reforms, and

WHEREAS,  the proffer discussion, while related to planning and development is best heard by the elected Board of Supervisors NOT the Planning Commission.

NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED THAT for purposes of public necessity, convenience, general welfare and good planning practices, the Albemarle County Planning Commission hereby adopts and forwards a resolution of intent to ask the Albemarle Board of Supervisors to consider amending the Albemarle County Comprehensive Plan as deemed necessary in order to achieve the purposes described herein; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED THAT the Albemarle County Planning Commission asks the Board of Supervisors to expeditiously hold a public hearing on the Comprehensive Plan amendment proposed by this resolution of intent and repeal cash proffers by July 1, 2016.

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We ask that you do the unthinkable and tell the Board of Supervisors that you are not political cover nor are you to be used as a delaying tactic, ask the Supervisors to do their job and act on repealing cash proffers by July 1, 2016.

Thank you for the opportunity to speak.

Respectfully Submitted,

Neil Williamson, President

Neil Williamson is the President of the Free Enterprise Forum, a local government public policy organization located in Charlottesville. The full Contradictory Consequences report can be found at www.freeenterpriseforum.org

Singing In The Rain! Albemarle Rain Tax Going Away!

By. Neil Williamson, President

The Free Enterprise Forum has long expressed concerns regarding the Singing in the Rain1stormwater fee AKA “Rain Tax”.  But now we have reason to join Gene Kelly and be “Singing in the Rain”.

Please let me explain.

Across all localities, we have steadfastly supported funding  stormwater programs through the general fund [Albemarle Hears the Siren’s Song of New Rain Taxing Authority]

Since 2013, in both Albemarle and Charlottesville a great deal of educational effort was made to gain an understanding of the import of Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) and a divisive community conversation regarding who was responsible for water “pollutants” and who would pay was pitting farmers against development area residents.

The Albemarle County staff even prepared a lovely video outlining the new unfunded mandates (they do not refer to them as such) as well as two of the three options currently under consideration: stormwater utility fee and a service District:

Water Resources Video

Well, Nevermind.

 

In a March 4, 2016 e-mail to the Stormwater Advisory Committee, Water Resources Program Manager, Greg Harper wrote:

You should be aware that staff will be making the following recommendations to the Board:

· accept the 10-year Program Plan as recommended by the Advisory Committee

· defer moving forward with developing and implementing a dedicated funding mechanism [emphasis added – nw]

What the email revealed, and some thought all along,  – Albemarle (and likely Charlottesville) are much better off on the mandated stormwater requirements than originally thought.

In late 2014, staff projected the costs to be nearly $2.5 Million a year.  During the preparation of Albemarle County’s Chesapeake Bay TMDL  Action Plan they found they would receive credits for the many stormwater Best Management Practices (BMPs) – both private and public – that were already built.  Harper explains:

While the County is required to achieve 5% of its long-term required pollutant reductions by July 1, 2018, the current status of reductions is as follows:

pollutant reductions achieved as percent of total, long-term requirement
phosphorus 68%
nitrogen 99%
sediment 137%

All (100%) reductions must be achieved by 2028. As you can see, we are theoretically complete with required nitrogen and sediment reductions and two-thirds complete with phosphorus reductions. [emphasis added-nw].

Wait a minute, where is the parade?

Albemarle has already met the 2028 pollutant reduction goal for 2 out of 3 pollutants!

Why wasn’t there at least a media release trumpeting the good stewardship of Albemarle landowners?

Sure there is still important work to do on the phosphorous levels but the cost for this work is SIGNIFICANTLY ($2,000,000 annually) less than the original TMDL program.  Harper explains:

While we will continue to proactively achieve pollutant reductions through our capital program (in fact, we just received a DEQ SLAF to support a stream restoration project), the need to instantly and dramatically expand the program has greatly diminished. We’ve revised the estimated cost to implement the TMDL program as $500,000 per year, recognizing that this may change in the future. The lower total program cost makes it more difficult to justify investing in a discrete, dedicated funding mechanism at this time.

singing in the rain broadwayDuring the busy stressful  budget season, it is nice to have a reason to smile and enjoy the inevitable spring showers.

The Free Enterprise Forum wonders how Charlottesville, with their existing stormwater fee, is doing on their plan’s objectives and if soon citizens might be looking for City Hall to repeal Charlottesville’s Rain Tax.

Keep your eyes to the skies.

Respectfully Submitted,

Neil Williamson, President

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

Photo Credits: MGM Studios, Albemarle County,  behindthefootlights.blogspot.com  

Greene Discusses Capital Improvement Plan

By. Brent Wilson, Field Officer

The chairman of the Greene County Planning Commission, Jay Willer, has been charged by the Board of Supervisors with updating and improving the county’s Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) process . At the first Board of Supervisor’s meeting in March he provided an update and asked for direction from the Supervisors.

Bart Svoboda, Greene’s Planning Director  started the presentation stating that the current CIP process is cumbersome and it is a “wish list”. The goal of Willer’s refinement is to fine tune the process to sort true capital expenditures vs. maintenance items.

Willer then addressed the Board of Supervisors stating that the current CIP is not a “pretty” document and it is a “pile of paper that doesn’t make much sense” that up until now Supervisors would see the millions of dollars needed and say – “Oh my God” and move on. Over the years many citizens have indicated this is not a way to plan for the future.

Willer stepped the Supervisors through the CIP’s latest draft.

 

Annual Totals by Function: FY15 FY16 FY17 FY18 FY19 Total
Gross totals $10,535,805 $10,520,394 $11,855,523 $58,264,973 $67,631,638 $158,808,333
Federal / State Required $68,836 $5,000 $0 $0 $0 $73,836
Maintenance of Existing Capital Assets $583,000 $312,400 $277,400 $447,400 $25,000 $1,645,200
Replacement of Existing Capital Assets $6,272,753 $4,240,000 $4,615,000 $2,420,000 $0 $17,547,753
Upgrade of Existing Capital Assets $136,000 $380,000 $1,420,000 $9,515,000 $12,000,000 $23,451,000
Improvement of Existing Capital Assets $207,453 $261,815 $328,123 $539,773 $16,101,323 $17,438,487
New Capital Projects $3,267,763 $5,321,179 $5,215,000 $45,342,800 $39,505,315 $98,652,057

The first grouping of the projects is sorted by function, six in all. The first grouping is projects that either the federal or state government requires. The rest of the categories go from maintenance projects progressively to new capital projects. Maintenance vs. replacement projects go together in that maintaining an asset may preclude or delay the replacement of an asset, such as, fix the leaky roof or replace it later if it is not maintained. Upgrading, improving and new equipment are categories that are either volume driven or a new approach to solving a problem.

The second chart identifies how the projects above can be funded. The majority of funds come out of the General Fund. The other four categories are a variety of different sources of funds from outside the county.

Annual Totals by Source of Funds:  FY15  FY16  FY17 FY18  FY19  TOTAL
Gross totals $10,535,805 $10,520,394 $11,855,523 $58,264,973 $67,631,638 $158,808,333
General Fund $10,328,352 $8,237,181 $11,497,400 $49,627,400 $12,275,000 $91,965,333
Proffers / Grants $0 $21,398 $30,000 $8,097,800 $255,315 $8,404,513
Rustic Rural $0 $0 $0 $0 $960,000 $960,000
VRA $0 $2,000,000 $0 $0 $39,000,000 $41,000,000
6 Year Plan $207,453 $261,815 $328,123 $539,773 $15,141,323 $16,478,487

The rest of the draft showed the detail of all projects sorted by departments within the county.  Willer used the analogy that his former boss used which was “kill the closest snakes” – meaning what needs to be done first. He also wanted the Board to be clear that the document they had in front of them was not a CIP, some of the projects are 1 to 2 years old and some have been completed. The question is – is the format ok?

In addition to the CIP format that has been drafted, forms have been developed to input each project with significantly more data being required instead of just what and when. Also, determining who will decide what to cull out of the submissions needs to be determined.

Willer hoped that part of the benefit of the new CIP formatting would be helping the county group like expenditures – such as packs for all the fire departments – in order to combine the purchase and leverage the buying power of the county and driving the cost per unit down and thereby saving the county money. However, the timing is too late for this CIP format to be used in the 2016/2017 budget cycle.

Supervisor Jim Frydl (Midway) thanked Willer for the work to date and liked the format of the draft and believes it will be easier for department heads to understand the process. Willer encouraged the Board to provide “small victories” in approving some projects so that departments will have some credibility in the process.

Vice-Chairman, Michelle Flynn (Ruckersville) hoped that the forms could be distributed and submitted electronically. Willer answered that the draft is a hardcopy but can be converted in the future.

Supervisor Dale Herring (At-Large) asked what the time frame is for this process? Willer replied that the Board sets the time frame but assumes that it would be needed early in the budget process so that the impact of any expense items can be realized as well as the capital required by the county’s departments. In addition, projects in some cases need to be identified in a county’s CIP in order to qualify for grants. The real question is – when will County Administrator John Barkley want the data in order to feed the budget process.

barkley

Greene County Administrator, John Barkley

Supervisor Chairman Bill Martin (Standardsville) asked Barkley if he had any comments and he stated it is incumbent of staff to lead this process and the goal is to get this ready by the end of the summer to use in the next budget cycle. Being able to see the data sorted as presented is very helpful even though it won’t help with the new budget but it is a step in the right direction.

Willer suggested that the Supervisors keep the CIP in mind as they go through the budget process as they may find needs that can be incorporated in next year’s budget process. Martin asked Willer if he would prepare a one page guide of key questions/actions and dates, including who is to maintain and decide the process, the transmission of the data to the Administrator and finally to the Board.  Willer agreed to prepare this document.

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 www.freeenterpriseforum.org

Ignoring Earlysville Evidence

By. Neil Williamson, President

Despite spending almost $8,000 on an independent  traffic engineering study, Albemarle County is poised to ignore the results of the study and preparing to vote Wednesday night on closing a portion of Earlysville Road to through truck traffic.

Based on the data presented in the traffic engineering study, in the last three years, there have been zero accidents with the types of trucks Albemarle is attempting to ban.  This lack of accident evidence is amazing:

Crash history was recorded and visualized via aerial imagery as shown in Figures 7 through 23. The data for these maps was obtained from a  VDOT [Virginia Department of Transportation] database for the previous three years (2012-2015). This data includes location of the crash, the date of the accident, the time period it occurred, type of crash, and the type of vehicles involved in the crash.

Per the database, 60 crashes were recorded within the study area for the years 2012-2015. Of those crashes, 25 crashes were rear ends, accounting for 42% of all crashes. Only one truck was involved in any of the 60 crashes. This crash was a rear end incident involving the two-axle truck and two other cars. The vast majority of crashes occur traveling northbound, with just nine crashes occurring southbound.  Crashes appear to be correlated to locations of entrances and sharper curves, and there is no apparent correlation with truck traffic [Emphasis added – nw]

This lack of accident evidence was not lost on Supervisor Rick Randolph (Scottsville) who in a February Board of Supervisors meeting said:

“Based on the data provided, if we shut the trucks down tomorrow and we look at the data for the next year we would see a similar number, in all probability, of accidents in similar places.”

Board Chair Liz Palmer said that she was very familiar with the road, driving it almost every day and cited that she knows horseshoe bend “very, very well” and it is scary but it is primarily cars.

The reporting on this was very clear as well:

Overall there seems to be a fairly typical number of multiple axle trucks (i.e. three or more axles) on the Earlysville Road corridor. The truck percentage does not generally exceed the typical value of 2% that is found across the state on similar facilities. Note that the 2% does not include long wheelbase two axle vehicles, such as delivery trucks including mulch trucks, fedex trucks, etc

Supervisor Brad Sheffield (Rio) made a point that the consideration of this truck closure was about more than just the traffic report.  He asked staff to have additional, supplemental information available for Wednesday’s public hearing.  He positioned the question as an attempt to balance the need for truck mobility and the quality of life of residents.  Sheffield considered the truck closure “a start” in addressing Earlysville Road traffic concerns.

The quality of life balance should also consider the economic impact on business.  This closure would not only impact larger trucks but would also prohibit landscapers and construction crews that utilize trailers for their equipment.

In the discussion, Randolph raised concerns of closing Earlysville Road to truck having a “contagion effect” resulting in other neighborhoods seeking to eliminate truck traffic from their roadways.   He highlighted staff’s contention that Earlysville road lacked adequate shoulders and asked how many other roads might fit that definition.

“Route 20, 22, 231, 20 South in Scottsville. Lynchburg Road, 53; we have a series of roads that were designed for a horse and buggy”

Supervisor Norman Dill also raised the concern of setting precedent and admitted he used to drive a box truck on Earlysville Road regularly.

snob-zones-640-for-web-194x300In the introduction to her seminal book on exclusionary zoning, “Snob Zones”, author Lisa Prevost highlights assumed entitlement:

“It is a reflection of the widespread belief among homeowners that they have the right to restrict access to “their” community and limit other people’s property rights for their own benefit.  What gives them this power?  The local authority to write zoning laws for their town.”

While we have heard good discussion from several supervisors questioning the logic and rationale for Earlysville Road closure, we remained concerned that this proposal may move forward.  The Free Enterprise Forum wonders if ignoring the preponderance of evidence and closing Earlysville Road to trucks might be Albemarle’s rendition of snob zoning.

Respectfully Submitted,

Neil Williamson

Neil Williamson December 2 2015 Albemarle BOS meeting Photo Credit Charlottesville TomorrowNeil 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.

 

 

 

Fluvanna Schools Seek $1.7 Million Increase

By. Bryan Rothamel, Field Officer

The Fluvanna County School Board presented its budget to the Board of Supervisors on February 24.

The budget request for FY17 was $1.724 million over the local contribution given last year. That would need over six cents on the tax rate. The county administrator proposed budget had no tax increase.

The School Board budget’s increase was justified with an additional $520,000 for staff compensation, $384,000 for health care costs, $435,000 for additional staff, $335,000 for technology and $50,000 for the operational budget.

Last year, the School Board had a surplus of $600,000. Part of that was the school system spending less than budgeted and another part was the county received more money than anticipated.

The School Board cannot spend that additional money received, unless approved by the Board of Supervisors. The reason is the School Board’s budget is approved by the Board of Supervisors. That budget sets the School Board’s spending authority.

If revenue exceeds the spending authority, the Board of Supervisors have to approve increasing the spending authority. Legally, the School Board cannot exceed its spending authority.

At the Nov. 18, 2015 meeting, the Board of Supervisors unanimously voted to give the schools back $61,000 and keep the remaining $550,000 in the general fund. The rationale then  was that money could be used in FY17 for capital improvement items.

“We appropriated money to them. It is their money,” said Mozell Booker (Fork Union District). She advocated the extra money should be reallocated for school funding. Now that it is in the general fund, it can be spent for anything like water projects.

Don Weaver (Cunningham District) disagreed.  “It didn’t hurt them the least bit”

Weaver countered part of the issue was the county received more money than anticipated and had less expenses. That money can then be reappropriated without thinking it is owed to the school system.

The school system had lower expenses because of several factors going just right. Ed Breslauer, the school finance director, explained how good budgeting has safe guards in place so when one item runs over budget, there should be another that runs under. The schools had several items run under, which is highly unlikely. The previous two years the School Board budget came in less than 1 percent under budget.

One example is the schools’ budget was built with anticipation of fuel costs at $4.00 a gallon. Besides buses, the school uses heating oil. With oil significantly less than $4.00 a gallon, that is a substantial savings.

The Board of Supervisors will next meet on March 2 at 4 p.m. for a regular meeting. There is a scheduled work session afterwards.

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bryan-rothamelThe 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