At the Board’s direction, Payne prepared a new contract that resolved many of the outstanding issues he has identified in other iterations of the agreement.  Some of the larger changes involved protecting the county against excessive risk.  For example, in the former contract, the county was responsible for reimbursing Aqua Virginia for its incurred expenses should the parties come to an impasse about waterline location.  Also, if Aqua decided to walk away from the contract, it did not have to return the county’s deposit.  Additionally, Aqua had sole determination of when the project was complete, and if the county didn’t agree, it didn’t matter.  These situations and more have been addressed by Payne in the new contract in order to better protect the county’s interests.

All five members of the Board directed Payne to submit this contract to Aqua.  When he does so, it will become available online for citizen perusal.  At the Dec. 4 meeting, Chesser indicated that he strongly doubted Aqua will ratify this contract.  Even if they do, the “new Board” will still have to vote on the contract, as well.

During public comments, Sam Patterson warned the Board not to forge ahead with what he considers to be an illegal agreement.  “Nothing in this county has ever united Democrats, Republicans, and Independents alike, as the actions taken by the BOS in the last three months, particularly against this Aqua Virginia plan,” he declared.  At the heart of his complaint is the fact that Virginia law prohibits local governments from entering into debt without a public referendum.  There are a few exceptions that do not apply in this case.  While some supervisors agree, others believe that this contract would not constitute debt, because payments are made via annual appropriations.

After the water business, Chesser and Kenney enjoyed a moment of commendation for their four years of service on the Board.  Kenney gave Chesser a commemorative plaque, saying, “One thing Mr. Chesser has taught me is that good people can still survive in public service.”  He added that Chesser really tries to do the right thing, even going back and reconsidering if necessary.

Supervisor Bob Ullenbruch presented Kenney with his plaque, saying, “Shaun helped lead the County through several years of particularly difficult financial times.”  He continued by praising Kenney for being eloquent and well-read.

To this, Supervisor Mozell Booker added her thoughts.  For her, Chesser speaks for other supervisors of the past, including her late husband, Jerome Booker, who worked hard for economic development.  She kidded Kenney that she was going to “miss the preaching” when he was gone.  Finally, she asked them not to stay too far away.  “You’ll see things from a different perspective out there [in the audience],” she told them, “and you’re going to be very valuable.”

At the Board’s next meeting, on Jan. 8, Tony O’Brien will replace Chesser in the Rivanna seat, and Mike Sheridan will replace Kenney in the Columbia seat.

In other matters:

Finance Director Barbara Horlacher presented the FY13 annual report.  By a small amount, sales tax in Fluvanna enjoyed its best year ever.  In overall spending, education accounted for 39 percent, debt service accounted for 16 percent, public safety accounted for 14 percent, and health and welfare accounted for 13 percent.  Total debt is just under $100 million.

Despite his retirement from the Board, Chesser will continue to serve on the James River Water Authority as one of Fluvanna’s three representatives.>

The Board welcomed Jason Stewart, the county’s new planning and zoning administrator.  He takes over for Allyson Finchum, who left to take a position in Louisa County.

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