BOS update


After their meeting Wednesday night (April 16), Chairperson Mozell Booker and Supervisor Don Weaver confirmed that neither could remember a time when that had happened before.

By a vote of 3-2, with Weaver and Supervisor Bob Ullenbruch dissenting, the Board adopted a real property tax rate of 88 cents per $100 valuation to fund an operational budget of $80.1 million.  This budget includes the capital improvement plan (CIP) budget of $15.6 million.  Supervisors also approved the CIP for fiscal years 2016-2019, but it remains flexible.

Supervisors have spent several meetings and work sessions discussing the budget, most notably having what Supervisor Tony O’Brien called a “robust” conversation on the night of the public hearing.  And under the leadership of Booker, who routinely asks each supervisor in turn for his opinion, Board members have a good idea of where the others stand.  “I think we already knew pretty well how things were,” said Weaver.

“Much of the discussion on the budget took place during the public hearing and the work sessions,” commented O’Brien. “The debate was muted in part by the recognition by many Board members of the many needs of the county balanced against the impact of an 11 percent increase to the tax rate.”

In keeping with the quiet atmosphere, only one resident spoke regarding the budget.  Len Bozza expressed his support for the 88-cent tax rate, saying, “You have a sign out at Zion Crossroads that says ‘Proud of our history and confident in our future.’  I have never been more confident than I have been recently with the way things are going.”

When asked later to comment on the budget, Ullenbruch said in an email to the Fluvanna Review that, “Alanis Morissette put it in perspective: ‘I have one hand in your pocket.’  Well, the other hand will again be in your pocket next year.  Elections have their consequences.  A record-breaking spending increase of 22 percent this year!  Reassessment next year!  And another increase on top of that.  This vote last night blew the manhole off the drain, and the flood of Fluvanna residents’ hard-earned money is on a freefall out of your pockets and down the drain.  Of course this is my personal opinion and not that of the majority of the Board, but think about how many of those extra dollars out of your pocket found their way under the door and into the classroom?  Are teachers still feeling like they are in a wind box with dollars blowing all around them as they try to grasp just one but again miss the tornado of your cash just missing the mark?”

O’Brien later offered this comment in an email to the Fluvanna Review: “In my opinion this budget is a positive step for the county and more accurately reflects a sustainable rate.  The significant highlights of this budget include restoring funding to the schools by bringing their budget back to at least 2009 levels, fully addressing the state VRS funding requirements, repairing the HVAC at the middle school, and adding wireless capabilities to all the schools.  We have added improvements for the rescue departments in the form of repairs, equipment, a new fire truck, and are continuing the contracted U.Va. crew to ensure coverage during the day.  We have added funding for an additional sheriff deputy and 911 operator.  And we are allocating money to bring water to Zion Crossroads so that we can attract economic development, which will ultimately reduce the pressures on the homeowners.”

After passing the budget, the Board turned its attention to a compensation review for the various local government boards, commissions and committees.  Though some of these positions are unpaid, members of the Board of Supervisors, Planning Commission, Board of Zoning Appeals, Social Services Board, Electoral Board, Jail Board, and the Board of Equalization receive compensation for their services.

After reviewing surrounding county compensation plans, staff recommended increasing the salaries of the planning commissioners from their current $1,500 per year to about $2,100 per year.  Staff also suggested increasing the supervisors’ salaries from the current range of $7,800 to $9,000 to an adjusted range of $9,000 to $10,000.  However, Virginia statute requires that any pay increases supervisors put in place for themselves must take effect after an election has transpired.  With this in mind, County Administrator Steve Nichols suggested reexamining the issue before January 2016.

In other matters:

Planning staff will be reviewing the county’s comprehensive plan throughout 2014 and will present a final draft to the Board for approval.  This process will include review by the Planning Commission and input from the public.  Nichols noted that this review is not a “complete master re-write” of the comprehensive plan but rather a “buff up and polish up.”

Nichols reported that the School Board may begin adopting its budget in February, rather than March, in order to enable better discussion and work sessions between School Board members and supervisors.  He also noted a pending school budget shortfall of between about $200,000 and $250,000, due to declining average daily membership, a formula used by the state to determine state funding.

The Board passed a resolution honoring Audrey Lightfoot Smith, who will celebrate her 100th birthday on April 22.  Smith was born and raised in Fluvanna and, according to the resolution, “has spent most of her life in service to the people of Fluvanna County.”

Nichols presented a certificate of commendation to Finance Director Barbara Horlacher in recognition of her service to Fluvanna County.  Horlacher is leaving to take a new position in Goochland County and will be “sorely missed,” said Nichols.  Budget Analyst Eric Dahl will take over as finance director.


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