Tag Archives: Greene County

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

Greene Supervisors and School Board Kick Off Budget Season

By. Brent Wilson, Field Officer

Prior to the second January Board of Supervisors meeting, the Greene County Board of Supervisors and the School Board held a workshop to begin the budget process. Leah Paladino, School Board Chair, led the discussion and reviewed the schools needs and priorities.

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Leah Paladino

Specifically the next school budget is looking several major issues – 1) a Virginia Retirement System (VRS) increase, 2) health insurance increase and 3) a one-time bonus – depending on Richmond’s decision. The impact of the increased local cost of the VRS is being estimated at $326,000 or a 10% increase.

Superintendent Andrea Whitmarsh’s understanding is that this increase statewide would fully fund the VRS system per what state auditors estimate is required. Health insurance is estimated to increase by 15% or $357,000 and the impact of the potential one-time bonus  is estimated at $291,000.

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At the same time, this reporter has been in communication with Delegate Rob Bell asking him about fully funding the VRS fund. His reply on January 18th was “I continue to supports efforts to achieve full funding with legislation……one of the challenges is that the budget can supercede other bills, which makes it harder to create long-term policy”. I replied asking would he sponsor a bill to prohibit “borrowing” VRS funds for anything other than retirement and when will the VRS fund be fully funded per the states independent auditors. I am still awaiting a response to that email.

clip_image005Supervisor Jim Frydl (Midway), the School Board liaison, commented that the increased VRS cost and the bonus are examples of state mandated costs being passed to the counties while the state maintains they are balancing the state The three items total nearly $1 million before addressing any operational needs – such as new text books, additional teachers and aides, updated computer equipment, etc.

As the school board pointed out, the school staffing in 2009 was 511 and over the next five years the staffing was reduced by 41 to 470 or an 8% reduction while over the same period the number of students rose from 2,852 to 3,099 or 9%. The combination of more students with fewer staff caused the ratio of students vs. staff to increase by 18% from 2009 to 2014.

Whitmarsh’s comment on the dramatic change was that reductions in staffing have been made by 2014 and since then the staff have been in sync with the increase in student population.

County Administrator John Barkley asked Whitmarsh if salaries in Greene were competitive?

Superintendent Whitmarsh indicated that there is an ongoing issue in regards to losing teachers with several years experience to Charlottesville and Albemarle County due to both wages and benefits lagging.clip_image007

Kristie Spenser, Director of Business and Facilities, addressed the health insurance increase and attributed it to four major claims which is causing the loss ratio in Greene to be higher than normal as opposed to last year when claims were below the norm.

Supervisor Bill Martin (Stanardsville) asked Whitmarsh how the morale of the staff in the schools is. Whitmarsh felt that in general it is improving, you always have some happy and some unhappy, but raises have been given recently and Paladino felt that teachers have been empowered, encouraged to innovate and moral is increasing.

Whitmarsh thanked the Board of Supervisors for the meeting and it will help them at their budget work session the next night – Wednesday, January 25th. She asked that if the Supervisors needed any further information to just ask and they will be glad to provide any data needed to help them understand the school’s needs. Likewise Martin offered to meet with the School Board if they felt it would help the budget process.

At the regular meeting of the Board of Supervisors, Michelle Flynn was elected to the Chair for 2017 and Dale Herring was elected to the Vice Chair position.

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

Greene PC Recommends Approval of Church Office At US29/33

By. Brent Wilson, Field Officer

clip_image003At their January meeting the Greene County  heard a request for a special use permit (SUP #15-009)  to allow the northwest corner of Route 29 and Route 33 to “have meeting places for clubs, fraternal and civic organizations” as listed in Article 4-1-2-15 where the Music Store was formerly located.

Zoning Administrator Bart Svoboda reviewed the request for the parcel that is oddly zoned A-1, Agricultural, even though it is on the busiest corner in Greene County. Since the parcel is not zoned business like the clip_image002other three corners, it requires a Special Use Permit in order to allow a church to have an office locate in the two story building on the corner.

While the SUP request is for the 2.41 acres, the Legacy Church (who wants to rent the building as an office) is only looking to use the building where the Music Store was formerly located.

Svoboda went on to explain that the parcel is an odd “L” shape and the building is on the narrow portion of the lot that touches the northwest corner in Ruckersville. The larger portion of the lot continues up Route 29 north and in behind the Greene House Shops and the Jack Shops Restaurant. And he clarified that he recommends that the SUP only be for the two story building, not the motel rooms running up US29 north.

Commissiclip_image006oner Vic Schaff asked Svoboda that if the property were to rezoned to B-1, would the use being requested tonight be changed to a by right use. Svoboda agreed and stated that the SUP would then be void.

Ken Lawson from Grandview Real Estate Services addressed the commissioner and addressed only an issue brought up by the Health Department. The Health Department expressed concerns about the use of the septic system but Lawson clarified that the use is only for the “Music Store” and not the motel rooms. Lawson further clarified he contacted the Health Department and clarified this issue with them and they revised their report to have no problem with using the current septic system that the Music Store used as there would be similar demand on the system.

Chairman Jay Willer asked Lawson if there were any plans to use the motel rooms in the future and he said they did not plan on using the rooms. He further explained that the owners plan on selling the property but wanted to acquire the SUP to get a tenant in the short term.

Commission John McCloskey asked if the church would hook up to the county sewer system. Lawson stated that while they could hook up with a connection line to the pump station, the less expensive option is to use the existing septic system which is their plan.

Willer asked Svoboda if a developer bought the property and built a new structure would they be required to hook up to the septic system and the answer was yes. Svoboda went on to say that the county hopes the parcel is rezoned to business which would increase the uses allowed.

The Planning Commission unanimously recommended approval of the SUP request and the request will go to the Board of Supervisors for their decision. The question that remains is why is this parcel still zoned Agricultural instead of Business?

The argument goes both ways: leaving it Agricultural is less expensive to request a SUP than to have the property rezoned Business. However, many potential buyers may be attracted to a parcel that is zoned for business and that is what the county wants on the land.  This is one of many commercial looking properties that are on Agricultural land in Greene County.

The real issue is the odd shape of the parcel – the “L” shape significantly limits what can be built on the narrow portion that touches the corner of Route 29/33. Would the Greene House Shops/Jack Shop Restaurant lot, which lies to the west of the parcel, be able to use the corner piece of the property for parking?

Hopefully, a long term solution can be found for this property that meets Greene County’s and the property owner’s long term objectives for this important corner of Ruckersville.

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

Greene PC Forwards Capital Improvement Plan

By. Brent Wilson, Field Officer

At their December 21st meeting, the Greene County Planning Commission endorsed (4-1) the Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) and sent it on for consideration by the Board of Supervisors for their first January 2017 meeting.

The required Public Hearing was held at the November Planning Commission meeting. Chairman Jay Willer prepared a memo to go with the CIP when it is presented to the Board of Supervisors. This memo stressed the importance of two projects – the water and sewer project and the school expansion project – both have been vetted by outside consulting firms.

Unfortunately, the timing of the passing of the CIP to the Supervisors is too late to benefit the upcoming budget cycle which has already started. The proper timing would be to have completed the CIP in the fall to be able to use the results to help project the expense budget of the county. Hopefully this template can be used at the beginning of the next budget cycle as the document is intended.

clip_image002Willer expressed satisfaction with the format of the CIP and stated that it is a major step going forward. The only change to his current memo would be to stress the priority of the water and sewer project and school project should take priority.

 

With a vote of 4-1 – Commissioner Frank Morris voting no – the Planning Commission endorsed the plan agreed to forward to the Board of Supervisors for their action.

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

Greene Planning Reviews Capital Improvement Plan Process

By. Brent Wilson, Field Officer

Jay Willer, Chairman of the Greene County Planning Commission, has been leading a team to develop a more effective Capital Improvement Plan for the county. This week (9/20) the Planning Commission met to review the updated format and the answers to the questions that the Board of Supervisors asked several months ago.

Virginia localities are required by state code to develop a long range Capital Improvement Plan (CIP). The CIP is one of the most significant planning processes as it identifies the capital needs of the community over a specified period of time. This plan not only identifies the immediate needs but also seeks to capture long-term capital needs.

The CIP typically includes major investments in parks, libraries, transportation, community centers, facilities, technology, water, sewer and stormwater infrastructure – along with other areas that support the community.

In Wednesday’s meeting, Willer asked the commission if there were any questions for Planning Director Bart Svoboda. Commissioner Frank Morris questioned why the Economic Development Authority (EDA) would have a project of widening of road lanes for $2 million.

Svoboda explained that the EDA believes many county wide projects will help the economic development of the county – such as widening of roads, fiber optic cable, etc. The Board of Supervisors will prioritize the projects relative to how much funding is available – especially with the reservoir funding requirements.

With no comments from the public,  Willer explained that the current presentation is that of a Capital Improvement Inventory, not a Capital Improvement Plan . He explained that many of the items should be included in department expense budgets and larger items that benefit the county such as schools should be included in the CIP. In addition, definitely new items should be in the CIP and possibly items that provide new function should also be in the CIP.

One of Willer’s suggestions was to include the impact on the tax rate to pay for each expenditure to help give a sense of impact to the citizens of Greene County since over $150 million is to be provided from county funds over the five year period of the Captial Improvement Inventory. Vice Chairman Vic Schaff thought this was a good inventory of needs of the county but that the CIP should include projects that the county would need to raise additional funds to pay for, such as the water impoundment project  and possible school expansion.

It was brought up that the timing of the process is key so that the Capital Improvement Inventory could be separated into expense vs. CIP projects so that the expense items could be included in the departments budgets. The next issue discussed was how much detail should be gathered at the CIP level. Svoboda stated that the intent of the CIP is to raise issues that need action by the Board of Supervisors.

Willer asked the commissioners if they should stay with the format but that the Planning Commission is not tasked with providing priorities. He suggested that the Planning Commission provide a cover letter to the CIP report to encourage certain projects to the BOS. Also, Commissioner Saunders suggested that the items in the CIP be linked to areas in the Comprehensive Plan knowing that one item in the CIP may link to more than one area of the Comprehensive Plan.

Svoboda said that the Planning Commission should plan to finalize the CIP by November and in order to meet that date each department should submit their projects by October. If a department does not make a submission, then the prior year information should be used by just moving out each project one year.

Finally, Svoboda said that the Planning Commission needed to defer the CIP to a date in the future since it was approved as is. This was unanimously approved by the Planning Commission.

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

VDOT Updates Greene Supervisors

By. Brent Wilson, Field Officer

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Joel DeNunzio

Joel DeNunzio, the resident engineer from Charlottesville’s office of Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT)  covered two areas with the Greene County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday (5/24)  – 1) the Secondary Six Year Plan for Fiscal Years 2016/17 through 2021/22 and 2) the normal quarterly update.

The Six Year Plan is a partnership between VDOT who provides funding and Greene County who prioritizes the projects as funds are available. The plan DeNunzio presented was unchanged from last year. The top project comes under the Rural Rustic Road program and is a project on Matthew Mills Road and it is fully funded for $1.39 million . In descending order, the other projects are Simms Road, Route 630 between Routes 810 and 631 for $210,000 in the next three years, and .55 miles of Beazley Road is scheduled for 2018-2020.

VDOT logoAs the Six Year Plan requires a Public Hearing and the first to address the Board was Bill Murray who lives on South River Road. He indicated that at the end of South River Road where the pavement ends there is about .4 miles where he and three other families live. When there is rain the road has ruts that VDOT has to come out and scrape to level the road which happens about every three months. His request is to have VDOT pave this section of road which would eliminate the need for the scraping every three months.

David Underwood brought up that he had previously requested on April 8, 2014 that that VDOT allocate funds for paving the road in his development and to add this project to the six year plan.

DeNunzio addressed the two questions that the public brought up. On the South River Road project he will see if it can be moved up on the prioritization and notify the Board to confirm that they want to reprioritize the project. On the second question it is not in the Rural Rustic Road list and therefore only 5% of the funds used on all other roads could be allocated for this project. This amounts to 5% of $60,000 or only $3,000. Not enough to do the project.

With no more questions from the Board, the Six Year Plan was approved unanimously. The meeting then moved on to the quarterly update from DeNunzio. The work scheduled on Route 607 should be completed by September, 2016. The Route 29 and Route 33 intersection project will be added to the list in July but he is unsure when funding will be placed in the six year plan.

The repaving on Route 33 and the Route 33 bypass is having trenching being added to widen the road to get additional width for bicycles – although not enough for a true bike lane.

Vice Chair Michelle Flynn (Ruckersville) asked DeNunzio where to find the Route 607 and Route 29 project on the VDOT website – DeNunzio said he would email her the link. Board Chair Bill Martin (Stanardsville) asked when a traffic study for the Ford Avenue and Business Route 33 intersection would be undertaken and DeNunzio indicated that it will be completed by next week.

Martin then asked DeNunzio a question that a resident of the county had asked – at the Route 33 and Route 33 Bypass there is trash – dirt, debris, etc. – and he wanted to know if the trash is VDOT’s and, if so, can it be cleaned up.  DeNunzio indicated he would check into the intersection and see if VDOT can do the cleanup.

Finally, Martin congratulated DeNunzio on all of the work that VDOT is doing in Greene County however he asked that VDOT do a better job in communicating their schedule of work. DeNunzio indicated that the information is sent out weekly and that the information is passed on to fire, rescue and the school system.  Martin indicated that there have been some changes to the schedule that were not communicated and asked if VDOT could correct the information as the changes occur.

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

Greene Approves Budget, Sets New Tax Rate

By. Brent Wilson, Field Officer

Historically when the Greene County Board of Supervisors meet to discuss the new budget and tax rates, it draws a large turnout and the meeting is moved to the Performing Arts Center at the high school. It starts an hour early and goes late into the night. This year the plan was the same for the meeting on April 26th, except only one speaker addressed the Board.

Greene had advertised a personal property tax rate of $.775/$100 of assessed value – an increase of $.025/$100 or 3.3%. Chairman Bill Martin asked County Administrator John Barkley to outline the process that brought them to the $.775 rate

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John Barkley

Barkley indicated that revenues for the current year are on target and there is a healthy reserve fund balance. He was complimentary of the county departments since 21 departments presented reduced budget requests. The increase of $.025/$100 will generate additional revenue of $460,000. In terms of the impact to a homeowner – a home assessed at $200,000 would require $50 in additional property taxes. All other tax rates will stay the same in the county.

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Sharon Mack

The meeting then shifted to comments from the public. The only person to sign up was Greene County School Board Chair Sharon Mack. She thanked the Board for their support and explained why the school’s requested near a 3% increase. She indicated that the main driver is that teachers have been budgeted a 3% increase and a 5% increase for has been budgeted for teacher assistants in order to remain competitive in attracting and keeping good teachers and their assistants. In closing, she appreciated that the Board of Supervisors fully funded the schools request.

With the public hearing closed, the discussion then shifted back to the Board members. Supervisor Dale Herring (At-Large) said that in addition to the 21 departments reducing costs, 16 had no increase and some had less than $1,000 increase. The budget addresses current and future needs, especially the water impoundment.

Supervisor Jim Frydl (Midway) agreed with Herring and expanded on the school situation. In the past 4-5 years there has been an increase of 14% in number of students with fewer teachers rather than adding teachers. His other main comment was that Greene doesn’t act like D.C. – in Greene we invest in key functions especially for the long term, such as water and sewer and water impoundment.

Supervisor David Cox (Monroe) has seen Greene grow over the years and he stated that the school system is the future of Greene County and it is playing catch up. We have major issues to address in the water impoundment and the fact that the schools don’t have enough capacity for the growth we’ve experienced. imageHe also highlighted the poor emergency communication capability where a firefighter was in a burning building a year ago and he couldn’t talk to people 200 feet away. It almost cost him his life.

Vice Chair Michelle Flynn (Ruckersville)  indicated that during her orientation she heard of counties raising their personal property tax rates more than $.10/$100. She was glad that Greene could hold to only a $.025 tax increase.

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Bill Martin

Chairman Bill Martin (Stanardsville) believes that the table is set for Greene County. The county has a great school system but we need more commercial expansion to increase our tax base. The water impoundment is the lynch pin to the county’s progress. However, the budget incrementally adds over $680,000 in new expenditures (the largest component being $170,000 for the regional jail) but only has new revenue of $460,000. The additional $120,000 would equate to an additional tax rate increase of $.012/$100 or a total tax rate of $.037/$100 of assessed value. This imbalance caused Martin to not support the budget.

Cox made a motion to approve the budget and the tax rate Frydl seconded the motion which passed of 4-1 (Martin opposed). At the first Board of Supervisors meeting in May, the Board will vote to appropriate funds for fiscal year 2017.

However, several questions came out of the budget process……..

1) how much Reserve Fund is left vs. the balance the auditors recommend having?

2) does the county have enough cash on hand going forward to get through the low periods right before the semiannual personal property tax payments?

3) should there be a “cash only” minimum balance in order to be able to pay the bills every month?

4) how should Greene look to finance the large, looming expenditures such as the water impoundment and school expansion?

Finance Director/Deputy County Administrator, Tracy Morris provided what the Reserve Balance has been the past four years (calculated at September 30th, the end of the fiscal year):

Fiscal Year Balance

% Decline

% Cumulative Decline

2012 $19,633,000

2013 $17,446,000

11.1%

11.1%

2014 $15,731,000

9.8%

19.9%

2015 $14,412,000

8.4%

26.6%

In the FY2017 budget included a $2,850,000 decline in the Reserve Balance to balance the budget. The FY2016 budget projected a decline in the Reserve Balance of $3,067,000 and with these amounts being used the 2016 and 2017 estimated Reserved Balance would be:

Projected Balance

% Decline

% Cumulative Decline (since 2012)

FY2016

15.6%

42.2%

FY2017

14.5%

56.7%

Two keys to remember are that the Reserve Balance is not all Cash. It is made up of all Balance Sheet accounts – both cash and non-cash. Morris also indicated that all investments of cash have been liquidated. In addition, Board Policy indicates a goal of maintaining a minimum reserve Balance of 15% of income plus 1 month of expense  which seems to be in jeopardy.

There has been discussion that an additional benchmark might be provided to operate the county on a sound financial basis and that would be to have a “cash only” minimum balance. This lead to ask how much cash does the county have which Morris directed to the County Treasurer, Stephanie Deal.

Deal provided the following detail of the cash balance by year in the two months (June and December) before personal property taxes are collected.

FY2012 FY2013 FY2014 FY2015 FY2016
April $8,855 $9,925 $6,873 $7,712 TBD
May $10,851 $13,951 $11,746 $12,050 TBD
October $8,999 $10,758 $8,389 $8,777 $7,794
November $10,869 $13,878 $11,026 $11,461 $10,829

(All numbers in thousands) *Fiscal Year ends 9/30

The trend shows a steady decline in the cash balance after peaking in 2013, similar, but not as steep as the decline in the Reserve Balance over the same period. May and November showing increases in the cash balance indicate that a large portion of the county pays their personal property taxes in the month before they are due.

As for Frydl’s comment that Greene County is not like Washington, D.C. he is currently correct – Greene got out of borrowing that plagued the county in the past. There is concern that there are major projects on the horizon – the water impoundment project for over $40,000,000 and the study currently being conducted on the physical needs of the school system – price to be determined.

The “good news” about the schools teaching more students with fewer teachers while on the surface sounds good but it is a concern whether it is sustainable. Cuts have been made to administrative staff causing teachers to take on more “non-teaching” tasks with growing classrooms. The combination of these issues raises concerns whether Greene County schools will keep their good teachers and help attract businesses to the county.

Lastly, the 2017 budget includes $2,836,000 of Debt Service. The “real” good news is that this amount declines annually the next nine years (2018 to 2026). Absent any new debt being acquired, starting in 2027 the annual decline jumps to $1,952,000 (in one year) and gets bigger the next 10 years to $2,224,000 in 2036. The total decline for the 11 year period is $19,288,000 and for the total 20 year period the total reduction will be nearly $27 million.

The chart below shows the trend line going down – significantly in the out years providing a source of revenue within the existing debt structure.

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Will this reduction in existing debt service be enough to fund all the projects needed to be done in Greene? Probably not, but it is a good start for the future.

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: Greene County, Greene County Record, Martin Campaign

SE Rural Community Assistance Project addresses Greene BOS

By. Brent Wilson, Field Officer

Greene County is in the process of building a municipal water impoundment to provide water to the residents of the county. However, not all residents are served by the public water system.  Others are on well and septic  but some don’t have access to water at all. Randolph Phillips of the Southeast Rural Community Assistance Project, Inc. http://southeastrcap.org/ addressed Greene’s Board of Supervisors last Tuesday to present their services.

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Randolph Phillips

Phillips explained that SERCAP has existed in Virginia for over 40 years with a mission to improve the quality of life of low income families to help them become self-sufficient and gain their independence. SERCAP has a staff of 25 and he specializes in housing and partners with many federal agencies such as Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), etc. Phillips also works with home inspections and redevelopment grants for low income families.

imageSERCAP helps homes acquire safe drinking water and indoor plumbing by drilling new wells and installing septic systems.  Supervisor Jim Frydl (Midway District) asked if any work has been done in Greene County? Phillips said that none has been done so far but it has been done in surrounding counties.

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James Howard

Frydl pointed out to Phillips that Greene’s Social Services Director, James Howard, was in the audience and asked if Phillips would speak with him after the meeting to coordinate the use of his service in Greene County. Supervisor Michele Flynn (Ruckersville District) confirmed that there are some Greene County citizens that do not have running water.

Phillips went on to explain that the only requirements to use the services are you must own your home and your income must be below the minimum level. Another service that SERCAP provides is “aging in place”, where home are modified to install a ramp for a wheel chair, widen doorways to permit wheel chairs, install grab bars in bathrooms, and other safety improvements.

Chairman Bill Martin (Stanardsville District) asked Phillips who provides the funding for SERCAP. Mr. Phillips said that funding comes from a variety of sources such including state and federal agencies. Martin thanked Phillips for presenting the information to the Board and hoped that Greene can take advantage of SERCAP services.

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: Southeast CAP, Greene County 

Greene Supervisors Briefed on Stanardsville Revitalization Grants

By. Brent Wilson, Field Officer

stanardsville sealCraig Wilson of the Community Planning Partners has been hired by Stanardsville and addressed the Greene County Board of Supervisors  at their first meeting of February to discuss the potential of additional grants to further enhance the Town of Stanardsville, the county seat of Greene.

Speaking prior to Wilson, Superintendent Jim Northup from the Shenandoah National Park, updated the Board and one of his key statistics was that last year there were 1.3 million tourists in the park in 2015. This was a perfect entry to Wilson asking for support of the Board to try to attract more of the tourists to downtown Stanardsville.  Wilson went on to explain there are $9 million available in state grants (Community Development Block Grants or CDBG) with probably 30 applicants trying to receive grants of up to $700,000.

The grant can be used for improving infrastructure in Stanardsville. Wilson showed a diagram of a performance pavilion for both inside and outside events as a result of the planning grant already received.

David Hill of Hill Studios along with Stanardsville Mayor Gary Lowe, Chairman Bill Martin, Country Administrator John Barkley, Economic Development Director Alan Yost and STAR President Don Pamenter, have been working with Mr. Wilson. He addressed the proposed location as the hillside behind the county administration building  which slopes down to a creek and then the other side goes up to the school parking lot. He further explained that the sloping hill would make the structure very economical to construct.  He did not address any stream buffers, stormwater impacts or other environmental mitigation that the site might require.

As currently conceived, the project would be done in phases with the octagonal pavilion being done first, with a wing added followed by additional phases. According to Wilson, Hill estimates the venue being able to seat nearly 2,000 people. Further, the structure could be used for a farmers market and suggested one or more pedestrian bridges to the school parking lot.

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Andrea Witmarsh, Greene County Schools Superintendent

Wilson went on to explain that he has spoken with Greene County School Superintendent Andrea Whitmarsh about how the school system could also use the facility.

The key issue of the presentation was explaining to the Board of Supervisors that the more support that the Board would give the project the more apt Greene County would be to get the grant. Wilson suggested at least a letter from the Board or, better yet, a resolution in support of the project. The grants are to be awarded on March 23rd by the Department of Housing Community Development.

Chairman Bill Martin asked what else the grant would be used for. Wilson said that improvement to facades of structures in Stanardsville and possibly demolishing blighted structures. There are also funds that can be used for marketing and signage. Wilson will also be meeting with Lowe and the town council to discuss the grant process.

Supervisor Jim Frydl asked if owners of the buildings need to give approval at this point. Wilson explained that at this point it is non-binding on the owners of the structures but the more owners of building in town would be looked upon favorably. Frydl asked when the Board needs to act and Wilson explained that he recommended not waiting until the day the grant applications are due (March 23, 2016) as there is a lot of detail and suggested submitting it one or two days in advance.

Vice Chairman Michelle Flynn asked how much the maintenance of the structure would cost. Wilson did not have that at this time but the operating plan will be developed and he will provide it to the Board.  Barkley then addressed the Board with his support of the project. It is an example of the private and public sectors partnering and hopes that the Board and Town Council will support the grant request.

Supervisor David Cox agreed that we need something positive in Stanardsville but had questions on ownership of the structure, who is liable for the structure and where do we park 2,000 cars?

Wilson assumed most of the events would take place on the weekend or during the summer when school parking would be available. He further explained that this would be a 2 year project and could it begin this fall.

Frydl expressed his support of a resolution. Wilson offered his help in drafting a resolution and presenting it back to the Board. It was agreed that having the resolution done by the first Board meeting in March (March 8, 2016) would be most helpful. Wilson said that he would provide a draft document to Barkley before the March 8th meeting.

Ironically, this project sounds similar to the amphitheater in the county park that Dave Matthews’ manager Coran Capshaw proposed to Greene County in 1998. This was to be fully funded by Capshaw along with up to $1 million to develop that park. The tradeoff was that Capshaw/Matthews wanted to have 2 or 3 dates per year to have new bands get exposure. This proposal was turned down by the Board of Supervisors at that time and led to the development of the amphitheater on the Charlottesville downtown mall. It will be interesting to see if now, 18 years later, this Board of Supervisors believes an amphitheater is now a “good idea” in Greene County.

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: Community Planning Partners, Greene County, Hill Studios 

Greene’s Ambitious 2016 Agenda

By. Brent Wilson, Field Officer

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Greene County Administrator John Barkley

At the January 26th meeting of the Greene County Board of Supervisors, County Administrator John Barkley revealed an ambitious agenda for 2016. Prepared at the request of the Board and reflecting BOS priorities, the top items are improving the timeliness of financial reporting, starting the 2017 budget process and finalizing the Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) for the county so that it can be balanced with the county’s funds and the Board of Supervisor’s priorities.

DEQlogowThe largest capital project on Barkley’s list is the White Run Reservoir  and it is estimated at a cost in excess of $40,000,000. The final cost will depend on the negotiated purchases of property, the access road, facility design/location and in the range of $7 to $9 Million in compensatory mitigation for stream and wetland impacts permitted by Army Corps of Engineers and the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality.  The compensatory mitigation may be paid to a third party mitigation site within the watershed that is authorized to sell credits for the White Run impact site in Greene

It will be of interest to see if there are any projects in Greene County that could use these credits/funds to restore/enhance streams to offset those that the dam will displace and get value back to Greene County.

star logoThe Stanardsville Revitalization project  was included on Barkley’s priority list and he specifically mentioned a pavilion on the grounds of the County Administration building along with façade and infrastructure improvements in downtown Stanardsville.

Long term (2018-2020) the preliminary CIP lists sidewalk improvements, underground utilities and a water/sewer project for the town with the last being in excess of $10 million.

Barkley then spoke about the new county website with a presentation planned for the Board of Supervisors in February. This will also include a revision to the Economic Development and Tourism website .

Barkley also mentioned a desire to complete a facility assessment of all county owned property. Such an assessment would provide longitudinal data to update the CIP with a realistic cost to maintain all facilities. The fact that this study needs to be done indicates that whatever CIP is approved in the short-term will likely be understated until this assessment can be fully priced out.

Several other issues were mentioned by Barkley – transportation/Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT), the Greene County Library, and broadband service for the western part of Greene County.

The CIP  is a look forward five years and while many of the projects that  Barkley mentioned are included, there are many other projects in future years that are also in the CIP.

After the meeting, the Free Enterprise Forum spoke with Bart Svoboda, Greene’s Planning Director  and new Supervisor Dale Herring about the high speed internet lines being put down along Route 33 by the school system.  In addition to being a newly elected supervisor, Herring serves as the Director of Technology for the Greene County Schools and therefore is heavily involved in the internet project. Herring explained that the installation of high speed internet service is part of a five year lease which will lower the operating cost of the schools internet and dramatically increase the speed to 10 GIG

william monroe high school 2

This project is targeted to be completed by June, 2016 with a five year lease to commence after it is operational. http://www.usac.org/sl/. At the end of the lease period the school system will have the option to purchase the system at a very low cost. If the school system takes ownership of the system, then they can make it available for other departments of Greene County.

Herring

Greene County Supervisor Dale Herring (At-Large)

According to Herring:

With the recent changes to eRate  (http://www.usac.org/sl/) our school division was able to:

a. Increase our division internet connection from 100 Mbps to 1 Gbps.

b. Increase the connection from the Technical Education Center to the Central Office from 20 Mbps to 100 Mbps.

c. Lease a fiber connection from Ruckersville Elementary School and Technical Education Center to the Central Office increasing connection speeds from 100 Mbps to 10 Gbps.  The estimated time to be fully implemented is the summer of 2016.  Greene County Schools will have the option to purchase the fiber in year 6.  If it is decided to purchase the fiber, there would be a cost for a service contract.

Herring went on to explain that with eRate the schools costs have been reduced approximately $500 per month.

The county’s CIP update is long overdue. The CIP is a tool for projecting future costs of the county and is also a requirement of some grant applications. It will be interesting to see what the five year costs are estimated to be when it is updated and presented to the Board of Supervisors and what the proposed impact will be to the citizens of Greene in terms of infrastructure spending and potential tax increases.

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: Greene County