Supervisors: update

So Stephens and his staff worked up a chart with five different plans to aid the faltering system.  Built into the 20-year models were the assumptions that FUSD would pay back the money it owes the Board, and that $500,000 would be spent on improvements to the system.  Stephens estimated that obtaining a new water source, such as a well, would cost between $250,000 and $300,000.  The remaining funds would go toward increasing pipe capacity.

But Stephens did clarify that half a million dollars would likely not cover 20 years’ worth of needed expansions and repairs.  A better figure, he said, is $1 million.  He also noted that the system needs more than just one additional water source.

Each of the five plans included raising rates, establishing an ad valorem (according to value) tax to be assessed with the real estate tax of those who live within the sanitary district, or a mixture of the two.

According to Stephens, the FUSD advisory board didn’t like the idea of an ad valorem tax, and so recommended the plan that filled the revenue gap with raised rates alone.  Over 20 years this plan projected a surplus of $13,000 – essentially “a wash,” said Supervisor Bob Ullenbruch.

“You want your water system to break even,” Stephens said.

Most affected by the proposed rate increase is the Fork Union Military Academy (FUMA), which would likely see an increase in its water bill of about $18,000 per year.

Rear Admiral Scott Burhoe, president of FUMA, told supervisors, “If this [rate increase] means that we’re going to have reliable water and that we’re not going to have to worry about this again, then we certainly are supportive of the increase, even though it’s going to be something that we’re going to have to really work hard to make up.”

Supervisors fell into a discussion about the philosophical pros and cons of establishing an ad valorem tax on households within the sanitary district, regardless of whether each individual household connects to the FUSD water system.  “It all comes down to ‘fair,’” said Ullenbruch.  But supervisors didn’t necessarily agree on what ‘fair’ looked like.

In the end supervisors followed the lead of the FUSD advisory board and directed staff to delve deeper into the plan that involved raising rates but not establishing a tax.  Stephens and staff will spend the next two weeks working up a more detailed version of that plan and will present it to supervisors at their next meeting for a possible vote.

In other matters,

County Administrator Steve Nichols obtained the Board’s approval to establish a community volunteer coordinator position.  This coordinator would link volunteer needs in the county with the skill sets and desires of aspiring volunteers, keep the volunteer website up to date, and track volunteer service statistics.  The position will be unpaid but will provide reimbursement for local driving mileage.

Greg Banks, secondary programming coordinator from VDOT, reported that Fluvanna has about 299 miles of roads, 19 miles of which are unpaved.  Of these, 4.84 miles qualify for paving under the newly-relaxed rule that requires at least 50 vehicles to travel on the road per day.  The former rule required 200 vehicles per day.  Of the 4.84 miles, 2.94 are in VDOT’s six-year plan for paving.

Cheryl Wilkins, emergency services coordinator, updated the Board on radon issues in Fluvanna.  Since the most recent batch of free radon test kits arrived from the Virginia Department of Health, 54 households have tested for radon and had their results reported back to the county.  The average radon level in these households was 2.3 pCi/L.  The Environmental Protection Agency recommends mitigation for households with radon levels at 4.0 pCi/L and above.  Regardless, Ullenbruch urged residents to test their homes rather than banking on their radon levels being at or below the current Fluvanna average.

The Board approved a petition for a special election to fill the vacancy in the office of sheriff.  This election will be held in conjunction with the regular election in November.  Currently, Sheriff Eric Hess, formerly the chief deputy, holds the position and plans to run for election.

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