School funding

Fluvanna’s ADM dropped by 46.  “That’s not really 46 warm bodies,” Superintendent Gena Keller told the Board.  “A lot of things” indicate how the state calculates ADM; some of the factors are straightforward and some are more mysterious.  Though school officials and supervisors alike would prefer to have advance knowledge of how the state will compute ADM, there is no way to know for sure.  “We have a way of sort of projecting ADM,” Keller said, “but it’s fuzzy at best.”

The state’s decision to drop Fluvanna’s ADM by 46 impacted funding the most, but also of note were drops in sales tax revenue as well as money for textbooks and early reading intervention.

The funds to make up for the shortfall can mostly be absorbed by leftover, unspent money in the county’s FY13 budget.  Just over $79,000 will be drawn from the Board’s general fund, and that number is projected to lessen slightly.

When Supervisor Bob Ullenbruch questioned why the county budget had enough “gravy” left over to allow for such a sudden request, County Administrator Steve Nichols stated that “good business practice” dictates that a multimillion dollar budget, just as Fluvanna has, have a cushion of 1 to 1 ½ percent.  Chairman Shaun Kenney took issue with the “scrimping and saving” efforts of Nichols and staff being characterized as “gravy.”  Nichols commented that the 1 to 1 ½ percent cushion allows Finance Director Barbara Horlacher “to sleep at night.”

At this, Supervisor Mozell Booker called the Board’s attention to the fact that the School Board does not have such restful sleep as their budget contains no such cushion.  Keller had already explained that many localities across the state are facing this sudden funding shortfall, but their budgets have allowed them to absorb the hit.  Perhaps if the School Board had a one to one and one-half percent cushion, Booker stated, they wouldn’t have to come back to the supervisors for help.

Code compliance officer

After this, the Board reached its first divided decision of the day.  Past meetings have included discussion on whether to expand the hours of the county’s code compliance officer in order to allow the county to better enforce issues such as signage, special use permit conditions, and ordinances.  Though Ullenbruch pushed for making the position full time, others favored upping the officer’s hours from 20 to 28 per week, and it was the 28-hour plan that ended up becoming a formal motion.

When the time came to vote, Booker stated that she did “not see the rationale for increasing” the hours.  Feeling similarly, Kenney also voted against the motion, which passed 3-2.

Cost of utilities

Wayne Stephens, director of public works, gave the Board a county building utilities cost comparison.  As it turns out, the performing arts center, the public safety building, and the courts building are the three most expensive buildings for utilities.  He also delivered the news that without exorbitant rate increases or any significant change in circumstances, the Palmyra Area Waste Water Treatment Plant will never break even financially.

$85.2 million

As the last presentation of the day, Horlacher briefed the Board on the actual costs of the new high school.  She informed the Board that $78.4 million in debt was issued for the high school between 2006 and 2008.  Today, however, the amount of outstanding debt is actually higher, because when the Board refinanced, it traded increased principal for lower interest.  Currently, $85.2 million remains outstanding.  Horlacher also explained why the county has not yet fully paid its construction bill, reminding the Board that ongoing issues with the tile in the cafeteria floor must first be resolved.

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