Presenting her new, streamlined FY14 pay plan to the Board, Human Resource Manager Gail Parrish detailed how she adjusted the county’s former pay plan to make it more competitive.  The new pay plan “creates proper alignment for positions with similar market weighted averages,” she noted, “and creates more competitive salary ranges for recruitment and retention.”  When she compared current pay bands for all positions against market weighted averages, Parrish explained, she found that 15 positions were in need of upgrading to a new pay band, while two positions were downgraded.  She was careful to note, however, that in the case of those two positions, only the bands were adjusted, not the salaries.  No employee will take home less pay.  Pleased, the Board approved the pay plan unanimously.

In her first appearance before the Board, Superintendent Gena Keller asked supervisors to approve a $25,500 withdrawal from the capital reserve maintenance fund in order to purchase new bus cameras.  Of 70 school buses, only 20 have working cameras, and 10 of those run on obsolete VHS tapes.

Although the Board’s ultimate support for her request was never in question, the occasion did prompt a philosophical sidebar about the ever-increasing prominence of cameras in everyday life.  Supervisor Bob Ullenbruch lamented, “We are continually giving away our freedoms and our privacy one vote at a time, and that’s where we are here [with this request].”  And though some others agreed that bus cameras are a necessary evil, all agreed that they are, in fact, necessary, and the request was approved unanimously.

Later, Keller stood before the Board again to give an update on the schools with preliminary budget information.  She shared with enthusiasm that all of the county’s schools are fully accredited, with the exception of the middle school, which is accredited with warning in mathematics.  “I don’t see that as being a long-term issue,” Keller said, noting that many schools had a hard time with the new math test.

When it came time to share budget information, Keller told the Board that the schools are planning for the impact of salary scales, health insurance, contributions to the Virginia Retirement System (VRS), staffing needs for the high school, and average daily membership (ADM), a tricky formula used by the state to determine how much state funding a locality will receive.  The problem with ADM is that the state doesn’t lock it in until March, and before that, the school system has to work off of an educated guess.  By the time the state informs the locality how much money it will receive for a school year, the year is almost over, and expenditures have already taken place.  This scenario has thrown school districts across the state into a funding shortfall, and in fact cost Fluvanna almost $500,000 last year.  Keller assured the Board that her staff is doing its utmost to stay abreast of changes in ADM, and thereby, state funding, to the greatest extent possible.

In other matters:

The price tag of the Pleasant Grove House restoration project continues to rise, and County Administrator Steve Nichols warned the Board to expect more funding requests later in the month.  “Like any 170-year-old building,” he said, “it’s…fraught with problems.”  While most of the costs are being borne by grants, the county is responsible for contributing some of the funds.  On a positive note, president of the Fluvanna County Historical Society Marvin Moss encouraged the Board to keep in mind that “when this project is finished, it’s going to be a real gem.”

The James River Water Authority (JRWA) held its second meeting Nov. 5, and will probably submit a funding request later in the month.  The JRWA will ask both Fluvanna and Louisa Counties for some “seed money,” probably $25,000, in order to start the process of moving the withdrawal permit and to begin working on design.  The Board also learned that the cost of the project, originally estimated to be $3 million equally split between Fluvanna and Louisa, could now be as much as $6 million.

Betty Sharp introduced the Board to the new Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) that has come to Charlottesville.  An alternative for those who wish to avoid nursing home care for themselves or their elderly relatives, PACE will provide a one-stop location for medical and pharmaceutical care, recreation, meals, and exercise.   Funding comes from Medicare, Medicaid, and private payment plans.  Sharp invited the Board to PACE’s ribbon cutting ceremony Nov. 25 at 10 a.m., and added that the center plans to be up and running by the new year.

David Blount, Thomas Jefferson Planning District (TJPD) legislative liaison, presented the draft 2014 TJPD Legislative Program, informing the Board that top priorities this year will be public education funding, state mandates and funding obligations, and transportation funding.  The Board approved the draft plan unanimously.

Nichols shared the good news that Louisa County has approved immediate reinstatement of Louisa’s and Fluvanna’s emergency medical services (EMS) mutual aid relationship.  Previously, Louisa had withdrawn from the agreement because Fluvanna was unable to provide mutual aid to Louisa.

The Board bid a fond farewell to Planning Director Allyson Finchum, who is leaving to become the director of community development in Louisa.  After Nichols thanked Finchum for her service, Chairman Shaun Kenney told her that she “set a very high bar for professionalism here in Fluvanna County.”

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