Supervisors return $515,000 to schools

“Carryover” was the word of the night at the regular meeting of the Fluvanna County Board of Supervisors Wednesday (Nov. 15), as representatives from the public schools, the sheriff’s office, and the county courts asked that unspent money from the previous fiscal year be carried over to the current year.

A request by Brenda Gilliam, executive director for instruction and finance for Fluvanna County Public Schools, was the most complex issue of the evening.

The schools requested a carryover of $675,000, including $300,000 for new school buses, $165,000 for student laptops and school bus replacement, $50,000 for replacement of school department vehicles, $85,000 for instructional technology, and $70,000 to adjust the staff salary schedules.

Gilliam pointed out the particular need to continue to replace the aging fleet of vehicles. Of the school system’s 68 buses, 28 were purchased before 2002, and while they still meet safety requirements, they are now past their recommended 15-year replacement cycle. Some maintenance vehicles have been in service since the mid-1990s.

None of the department’s requests were seen as unreasonable, but not all fell under the Board’s current rules for carryover. Approval to carry funds across two fiscal years is allowable when a project for which money has been earmarked cannot be completed within that fiscal year.

The standard clearly applied to issues like school laptops, which were ordered in fiscal year 2017 but didn’t arrive before the new fiscal year started July 1. However, it did not necessarily apply to issues like adjusting compensation schedules.

After over an hour of discussion, supervisors approved the carryover of $165,000 from unexpended local funds, $300,000 for school bus replacement, and $50,000 for vehicle replacement.

Supervisor Mozell Booker then moved to carry over $35,000 for personnel compensation, calling it a compromise to the schools’ $70,000 request.

Her motion was seconded by Supervisor Tony O’Brien and seemed on its way to passing when County Attorney Fred Payne told the members that they didn’t have the authority to make that decision. The motion was withdrawn, with Booker requesting it remain noted in the minutes.

Clerk of the Circuit Court Tristana Treadway requested that $26,000 of her budget to be carried over as her department works to digitize 240 years of county marriage licenses to meet state requirements for security and disaster recovery. She also asked for another $9,000 for security and storage due to an ongoing maintenance project.

Sheriff Eric Hess requested a total carryover of just over $70,000 for needs that include ongoing training for the department’s new E911 system.

Both requests were approved 5-0.

Economic development

Supervisors voted unanimously to support the Fluvanna Shovel Ready Sites Program (FSRSP).

Managed by the Fluvanna Economic Development Authority, the FSRSP will help potential sellers with two or more acres in the Zion Crossroads community planning area get their properties ready for sale or lease.

Jason Smith, director of community and economic development, said county assistance with pre-permitting properties and helping sellers finance surveying, environmental studies and other issues, would make land in Zion Crossroads more enticing to potential developers.

Supervisors voted 5-0 to end a business microloan program and reassign its $35,000 fund to the FSRSP. The money will be delivered to sellers as zero-interest loans.

While seeing to the county’s business future, the Board also looked to Fluvanna’s rural past, unanimously approving a contract with Fuog/InterBuild, Inc., to construct the Farm Heritage Museum at Pleasant Grove.

The project is expected to cost $339,895 and the Fluvanna Historical Society has raised $285,425 toward that goal. The group asked the Board for $56,895 to make up the difference. The motion passed 4-1, with Supervisor Don Weaver voting no.

Supervisors recognized Dr. Robert Mayfield of Tenaska Virginia Generating Station with a community service award for his significant contributions to Fluvanna during his 15-year tenure as plant manager. Tenaska has helped several county departments and organizations, including the social services department, the food bank, the sheriff’s office, and Carysbrook Elementary School.