( 0 Votes )

No residents speak at tax public hearing

The Fluvanna County Board of Supervisors sat down Wednesday night (April 5) for a public hearing on the fiscal year 2018 (FY18) tax rates, budget and capital improvements plan (CIP), but no members of the public spoke.

Three people attended other than county staff or board members, school personnel, or members of the media.

School Board member Perrie Johnson addressed supervisors at their meeting earlier in the afternoon. “I ask you to pass your budget at the maximum advertised tax rates,” she said. “The School Board has asked for, relatively speaking, quite a small increase, which I hope you’ll take as a sign that you can have confidence in our decisions, just as I personally have full confidence in yours.”

The School Board has requested $17.4 million in local dollars for its FY18 budget, or $437,647 more than last year.

In February supervisors advertised a maximum real property tax rate of 92.5 cents per $100 valuation. Then in March they advertised a rate of 90.7 cents. They may still set the rate as high as 92.5 cents, but cannot make it higher without restarting the advertising process.

Fluvanna residents were invited to speak at the public hearing on a proposed FY18 budget of $75.2 million, a proposed FY18 CIP of $1.45 million, and the following proposed tax rates:

  • A real property tax rate of 90.7 cents per $100 valuation (an increase from the current equalized rate of 88.2 cents);
  • A personal property tax rate of $4.35 per $100 valuation (no change from the current rate);
  • A business and public utilities personal property tax rate of $2.90 per $100 valuation (down from the current rate of $4.35); and
  • A machinery and tools tax rate of $1.90 per $100 valuation (down from the current rate of $2).

Supervisors are scheduled to make a final decision on April 12.

Overdose deaths

Sheriff Eric Hess spoke to supervisors about the opiate and heroin problem in Fluvanna.

Three people have died from overdosing in Fluvanna in the last year, said Hess, though he said his office was awaiting toxicology reports in the third case.

Hess wants to bring a drug education program back into the school system next year. “If we don’t take measures now to better educate our children and the adults here… I don’t want us to ever be in a situation like they’re in” in southwest Virginia, he said.

Hess said that anyone can go to a pharmacy without a prescription to buy a drug that counteracts heroin overdoses.

Child abuse statistics

Kirby Baughn, family services supervisor, told the Board that the Fluvanna Department of Social Services received 384 reports of child abuse or neglect from July 1, 2015, through June 30, 2016.

Social services accepted 279 of those reports, which resulted in 194 family assessments and 85 investigations, she said.

The department determined that 54 of those investigations were founded. They were classified as:

  • 33 cases of physical neglect;
  • Seven cases of mental abuse or neglect;
  • Six cases of physical abuse;
  • Six cases of sexual abuse; and
  • Two cases of medical neglect.

“We see abuse and neglect across the board at all socioeconomic levels,” Baughn said.

When Supervisor Tony O’Brien asked why physical neglect cases were more prevalent, Baughn said physical neglect “is a little bit more broad than the other definitions.” It can include inadequate supervision, which she said is “kind of a gray area.”

Columbia update

Supervisors heard an update about plans to improve the appearance of the former town of Columbia, which currently has several unsightly areas.

The county has a Federal Emergency Management Agency grant of nearly $200,000 “to acquire and demolish four substantially damaged structures and their seven associated parcels in Columbia,” said County Administrator Steve Nichols.

The county has tentative agreements with the property owners to buy the parcels and is in the process of preparing purchase contracts, Nichols said. Once the county owns the parcels, it will hire a demolition firm to tear down the four structures.

Before demolition, the county will communicate with the Fluvanna Historical Society to see if there is anything of historic value in the structures. Nichols said he expects the project to be completed by the end of the year.

There are several “junk vehicles parked completely or partially within the Virginia Department of Transportation right of way,” Nichols said. The county is working on having the vehicles moved.

Crofton trail plan

Marvin Moss of the Fluvanna Heritage Trail Foundation presented a master plan for a desired Crofton trail near Lake Monticello along the Rivanna River.

The price tag for phase one is $500,000, but Moss said his organization would raise most of the money. “I am confident that we can raise the half a million dollars for this project,” he said. “But I can only do it if you do something to get it started.”

The county owns the land on which the foundation hopes to build the trail, Moss said. “If you own it and you’re not putting money into it, then I can’t raise money for this project,” he said.

He asked for a commitment of $10,000 or $15,000 to be put into the CIP three years from now.

“I think it would be a great asset to a huge number of our people,” Moss said.