Tag Archives: capital Improvement Plan

Greene Supervisors Approve Capital Improvement Plan

By. Brent Wilson, Field Officer

The Greene County Planning Commission had recommended approval of the county’s Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) to the Board of Supervisors back in December.   At the February 14th meeting the BOS held a public hearing to consider adopting the CIP.

Planning Director Bart Svoboda presented the CIP and, while it has taken time to get to this point, he stated that the CIP will provide a  good budgeting tool for the Supervisors. Two of the largest projects for the county are the water impoundment system  and the school expansion projects.

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The CIP process has been refined to delete the maintenance items and set a threshold for inclusion at buildings of $20,000 and $5,000 for equipment items. Svoboda continued that the CIP will help the Board be forward looking as the plan goes out five years at a time.

Commissioner Bill Martin (Stanardsville) hopes to make the document part of the budget process in the next budget period. Svoboda indicated that the county may not have enough funds to do all the projects in the plan so that prioritizing is critical. The next step to be done is a facilities assessment study to determine what needs to be done in what order. And then to sort based on safety and legal requirements as being the most important.

Supervisor Dale Herring (At-Large) agreed that the goal of the Board should be to conduct a facilities assessment and incorporate that into the CIP. Supervisor Jim Frydl (Midway) thanked Jay Willer (Chairman of the Greene County Planning Commission) and those that helped him to get the plan to this point. Frydl stated that “this is a positive step that needs to go further”.

Chairperson Michelle Flynn (Ruckersville) agreed that the Board needs to be forward looking and that the Capital Improvement Plan will help them do just that and will allow them to be proactive instead of reactive. The CIP was unanimously approved by the Board of Supervisors.

Unfortunately the delay of the approval of the CIP until after the budget data has been received back from the county’s departments has made the current Capital Improvement Plan useless for the budget cycle that is currently underway.

The CIP needs to lead the process so that it can be used to guide the Supervisors to include or exclude projects in the new budget cycle and incorporate the cost of the projects in their budget. Hopefully the Board of Supervisors will start the cycle of the next CIP before the 2019 budget process begins. Otherwise it is just a wish list on a spreadsheet.

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

Albemarle Passes The Bucks ($1.4 Million) To Unelected CACs

By Neil Williamson, President

piggy-bankIn Wednesday’s (2/1) meeting, without so much as a formal public hearing, Albemarle County’s Board of Supervisors plans to send a $1.4 million dollar piggy bank to the unelected Citizen Advisory Councils so that the elected officials don’t have to make the hard budget choices.

Nothing they are doing is illegal, it’s just not right.  Please let me explain.

Albemarle’s annual Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) Budget is laborious and involves significant number of staff hours to determine the staff priority for Capital projects such as vehicles, buildings and renovations.

Over the last 13 years the Free Enterprise Forum has been impressed with the level of detail and careful consideration the CIP committee (including citizen representation and 2 elected BOS members) have put into these discussions.  There have been times when one geographic portion of the development areas had CIP projects that garnered higher scores by the committee and these were funded rather than less urgent projects.

The new “Neighborhood Funding Initiative” would siphon off $1.4 million of the annual CIP budget and allocate it geographically and by population.  The staff has proposed a formula to accomplish this task:

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Staff has simply developed this Board driven concept.  In fact, the staff report hints at a better manner to utilize citizen involvement along with the elected officials within the current CIP process.

staff has conducted best practices research which is summarized as Attachment A that revealed that the majority of these types of community focused improvement funding programs fall into three basic categories:  neighborhood matching grants; formal citizen involvement in capital planning; and citizen-driven Capital Improvement Programs. After hearing the Board’s discussion, staff thinks that the third category may most clearly align with the Board’s preferences, so the program has been designed along those lines.  If the Board would like this program to be more closely incorporated in the already existing CIP review, evaluation and ranking process that would be another viable approach.

The Free Enterprise Forum has long been a critic of the unelected CACs.

In 2009 we wrote:

The Free Enterprise Forum believes citizen groups (including us) should have the ability to be active participants in the workings of local government.  That being said, we are increasingly concerned that the leadership function of some Boards and Commissions may be inappropriately delegating to community organizations.

With the proposed policy change, beyond effective regulatory veto power over development projects that would advance the community vetted comprehensive plan, Albemarle now seems poised to give these unelected “mission creeping” Citizen Advisory Councils the county purse strings as well.

As the Supervisors continue to delegate, I wonder what will be left for them to do … besides run for reelection.

As we said in 2009:

In the end, elected leaders must lead, not delegate, if citizens don’t like the direction they should replace the leaders.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.  Stay tuned.

Respectfully Submitted,

 

Neil Williamson

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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 and Nelson County.  For more information visit the website www.freeenterpriseforum.org

Spilt Fluvanna BOS Increases Tax Rate

By. Bryan Rothamel, Field Officer

It took a while, but the Fluvanna County Board of Supervisors voted to raise real estate taxes for the upcoming year.  It took three motions for the majority of the supervisors to vote to make the real estate tax rate $0.917 per $100 assessed. Chairman Mike Sheridan (Columbia District) joined Mozell Booker (Fork Union District) and Tony O’Brien (Rivanna District) voting in favor of the tax rate and associated budget. Patricia Eager (Palmyra District) and Don Weaver (Cunningham District) dissented.

While less than requested, the budget that passed includes $1.1 million more for the schools, compared to the FY16 budget. $300,000 of that is slated in the Capital Improvements Plan for technology upgrades.  According to state code, the School Board has the final authority regarding their spending. The FY17 request from the School Board was $1.6 million.

The rest of the county budget increase includes additional funds for new positions on county staff, county staff pay increase and some modest increases for various county departments.

The budget didn’t pass easily. First, the supervisors discussed the tax rates they were individually comfortable passing. O’Brien and Booker advocated for $0.92 per $100 because it included the $1.1 million for the schools.

OBrien2014 photo credit Fluvanna County

Fluvanna Supervisor Tony O’Brien

O’Brien noted there hasn’t been a large outcry on the advertised budget. He still mentioned the supervisors have to weigh the upcoming years.

“It isn’t going to get easier next year or the year after that. I understand that,” said O’Brien. He concluded if supervisors don’t do as much as they could for the schools this year, it would set deferred programs even further back.

Weaver and Eager advocated for no tax increase. Eager suggested there is no outcry because there is a sentiment that supervisors aren’t listening.

“I think a lot of people have given up,” said Eager.

Sheridan ended the discussion saying he heard residents say they understand the rate will rise but wanted a modest increase. He suggested $0.914 per $100. That would give schools $1 million.

O’Brien made a motion for Sheridan’s suggested $0.914. Booker slowly seconded the motion to bring it to a vote. It failed 3-2 with Booker joining Eager and Weaver voting against it.

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Fluvanna Supervisor Mozell Booker

Booker viewed that extra $100,000 for schools as very important because it provided the opportunity to hire additional staff such as a psychologist.

Booker then moved a $0.92 rate with O’Brien seconding. That restored the $100,000 for the schools, added increases for county departments and included a small capital depreciation fund that would offset future replacement costs of buildings.

That motion failed on a 3-2 vote with Sheridan, Eager and Weaver voting against it.

O’Brien moved a $0.917 tax rate. The budget for $0.917 was the same as $0.92 but removed the capital depreciation fund. It also took $13,000 from the $1.1 million the schools were to receive so total county revenue would equal expenditures.

After calling for a vote, Booker and O’Brien voted in favor with Eager and Weaver voting against it. Sheridan announced it passed with the chairman voting in favor.

The CIP was unanimously approved. Included on it were $6 million of water projects and first priority projects around the county.

The vote on the budget was witnessed by many of the same people who watched the budget work sessions. Missing was general county residents. It was largely a process watched by interested parties such as county staff, constitutional officers, volunteer organizational leaders, volunteers on county boards and media. Most meetings were watched by less than a handful of people outside of those groups.

Also at the April 20 meeting, the supervisors unanimously approved a small home industry to operate on Bybee’s Church Road. Two home businesses related to natural healing.

The meeting ended with a discussion on scheduling who will be the chairperson on a rotating basis. Booker raised the point as a way to have the chairperson role rotate through the board.

Both Booker and O’Brien were concerned about the process of selecting a chairman this past year. Weaver said he had no issue with the way it worked.

State code requires local boards to elect a chairperson unless a chairperson is voted by the constituency. There could be an agreement how the chair will rotate, but it would still have to be voted on regularly.

The supervisors didn’t have any resolution on the item after discussion.  The next Board of Supervisors meeting is May 4 at 4 p.m.

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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

Photo Credit: Fluvanna County

Jail House Rocks Greene BOS

By. Brent Wilson, Field Officer

The Greene County Board of Supervisors had an unusual item on their agenda  at their January 27th meeting – simply a discussion of the Central Virginia Regional Jail budget. Typically the agenda has a rezoning request or a presentation by an agency. The reason the budget of an outside agency drew so much attention is the significant impact to Greene County’s FY16 budget.

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Central Virginia Regional Jail

Back on September 13, 2011 the Greene County Board of Supervisors voted on a resolution to accept the expansion of the Central Virginia Regional Jail.   The project will add 200 new beds, increasing the rated capacity of the facility to 445.   The expansion area of the project also includes a new kitchen, replacing the old. The existing intake and booking area and magistrate’s office will be renovated and enlarged by taking over the space vacated by the kitchen.   Based on a use formula, Greene’s share of the cost came out to be 15.92% of the total.

Supervisor Davis Lamb, Ruckersville District , the representative from the Board of Supervisors on the Jail Authority from Greene County (along with Sheriff Steve Smith), spoke first.

Lamb went on to compare inmate cost per day of other jails in the vicinity. Albemarle/Charlottesville cost $85.55, Middle River (in Augusta County) cost $75.36 and Culpeper cost $81.14 vs. Central Virginia Regional cost $60.97.

County Administrator John Barkley indicated that with the current data it will be a large budget increase – anywhere from $6-800,000. As of now the state has not determined what portion, if any, that they will pick up. The cost increase is having the jail fully functional which may not happen on day one.

Lamb felt that services need to be provided to allow rehabilitation to occur and hopefully the individual can return to Greene County and be a productive citizen.

Supervisor Jim Frydl, Midway District, was shocked to see the cost to the county doubling for a 50% increase in capacity at the jail. To put the additional cost into perspective he equated it to an increase of 4.8 cents on an average  property tax bill or a 6.7% increase just for the jail. If the schools asked for this size of an increase, the Board would be persecuted for contemplating such a funding request.

Supervisor Bill Martin, Stanardsville District, understood that Greene agreed to pay their share of the construction cost but not the operating costs.  Frydl corrected him that some operating costs were agreed to but not all of them. Chairman David Cox, Monroe District, explained that all counties that participate – Orange, Madison, Louisa and Greene – are being hit with this increase.

cva jail photo credit Daily Progress

Central Virginia Regional Jail

Jail Superintendent Floyd Aylor  addressed the Board. He stated that the jail is far from having their new budget completed and they are still working on the final budget. However, he stated that the Board of Supervisors should read the agreement which stated that the county would absorb operating costs of the jail. Aylor said he couldn’t help it if the information that the jail sends out doesn’t reach the Board of Supervisors. He indicated the changes in staff in Greene County since the jail expansion project started may have contributed to the information not reaching them. He also indicated that he was tired of being told that the Board was not aware of the cost increase.

Martin asked Aylor if the increased costs were in last year’s jail budget.  Aylor responded that it was not in the current year but it was in the five year projection and he indicated that the $60 cost per inmate was extremely competitive.  Cox asked Aylor to keep the Board apprised of any changes.

Under the following item “Matters from the Public”, former supervisor Clarence “Buggs” Peyton stated that on July 10, 2011 the jail expansion was approved by the Greene Board of Supervisors and he felt it was a considerable bargain to the county. He recalls seeing financial statements from the jail on a monthly basis during his term on the Board of Supervisors. He questioned why there is a question now when the Board previously approved paying their share. He suggested that supervisors pay attention to detailed reports especially on such a major investment in the regional jail.

Later in the meeting, when  County Administrator John Barkley  gave his report, he indicated that in the upcoming budget the county may have to “bite the bullet” on the jail cost. At this point in the meeting Aylor had left the meeting.

Under the “Other Matters from the Board” agenda item, Frydl stated that he felt Aylor was “very cavalier” in his comments and to his knowledge none of the other counties were aware that the cost for the regional jail would double.

The Free Enterprise Forum reviewed the minutes from The Greene County Board of Supervisors workshop on September 13, 2011:

Mr. Frydl asked if there will be a significant increase in operating costs.  Mr. Aylor felt there would be some increase in operation costs.  The largest expenses are medical costs and staff.

Greene County is not alone in their lack of understanding regarding the scope of the jail’s financial demands.  Regarding the December Meeting of the Jail Board, Gracie Hart Brooks of the Madison Eagle reported:

Aylor said he believes the localities had ample notice that their jail costs were increasing, but declined to comment definitively as to if the December meeting was the first time they had seen real numbers. However, the theme at last week’s jail authority board meeting was sticker shock as the county administrators asked for the creation of a committee to look at budget alternatives and to get a handle on the numbers they were presented last month….

“We’re trying to learn as much as we can, as fast as we can to prepare our [county] budgets,” [Fluvanna County Administrator Steve] Nichols said. “We’re not recommending a budget or approving a budget, but this has a dramatically big impact on our counties. We need to know and present this as part of our [county] budgets. This is a big sea change compare to other years.”

The net cost to Greene County will depend on what the regional jail’s final budget comes out to be and how much, if any, state funding will be received to subsidize the impact to the county. Lamb encouraged all residents in Greene County to contact their state representatives to request that the state absorb some of the regional jail cost.

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The Free Enterprise Forum’s coverage of Greene County is provided by a grant from the Charlottesville Area Association of REALTORS® and by the support of readers like you.

Brent Wilson is the Greene County Field Officer for the Free Enterprise Forum a privately funded public policy organization.

Photo Credits: Daily Progress, Central Virginia Regional Jail

Fluvanna Budget Proposals Includes $10 Million in New Debt

By. Bryan Rothamel, Field Officer

The Fluvanna FY15 budget is just as tight as anticipated.

County Administrator, Steve Nichols, presented his budget proposal at the Feb. 5 meeting Board of Supervisors meeting. His proposal shows just how hard it will be for the supervisors to do everything it has said it wants to do.

The Nichols’ Budget includes a real property tax rate of $0.85 per $100 assessed with the personal property rate staying at $4.15 per $100 assessed.

The big shocker of the Nichols’ Budget is the Capital Improvement Plan (CIP). The CIP is a five-year plan for capital projects. The supervisors approve a plan for all five years but only commit to paying for the first year.

The FY15 CIP is for $13.1 million, including borrowing $10 million to pay for a large portion of it.

Big ticket items Nichols slated for debt are upgrading the aged Fluvanna Middle School HVAC system, construction of Fluvanna’s portion of the James River Water Authority system and developing a water system for the Zion Crossroads Development Area.

Other items to be paid in cash were all below $1 million, with the two largest being $650,000 for lighting at the Pleasant Grove athletic fields and $600,000 for safety and security upgrades for the school system.

The CIP also has over $1.4 million in maintenance projects.

The budget itself is higher than last year’s but it mostly maintains services currently offered.

“There is nothing but bone marrow left, other than personnel,” Nichols told the board about possible cuts.

Had Nichols included every request from agencies and departments, the real estate tax rate would have to be $0.93. It is currently $0.795.

The raise in the real estate tax rate isn’t the only thing helping increase the projected revenue for the budget. This year the anticipated tax collection rate was also increased, using historical trends. Because Fluvanna has collected higher than anticipated, the calculated collection rate was increased slightly. It isn’t a huge difference but saved a penny of real estate tax rate.

Extra tax revenues collected over projected are put into the ‘Fund Balance’, the county’s savings account.

The fund balance is required to have $7.2 million, per county policy. With Nichols’ budget proposal it would sit $1.5 million higher than policy.

The supervisors will also conduct another reassessment. Last year the reassessment lowered property values. One occurring in calendar year 2014, taking effect Jan. 1, 2015, will more than likely increase property values. The increase in value will increase the June 2015 tax collection.

While that is likely to occur, it is not projected in the budget process.

The debt service will continue to be an ongoing issue for the county and it won’t get better for the next several budget calendars. The budget has $7.536 million of debt service or $0.28 of real estate taxes. The payoff of current debt load is 2036 with payments lessening in the 2020s decade.

The supervisors have already heard from agencies during the Feb. 5 work session. On Feb. 12 they supervisors will hear from the non-profit and regional agencies.

Following the Feb. 19 regular meeting, supervisors will work on the CIP and capital budget.

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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.