Based on recommendations from RK&K Engineers’ preliminary engineering report, the roughly $8 million system will provide Fluvanna’s Zion Crossroads area with about 75,000 gallons per day of water through an agreement with the Department of Corrections (DOC).  It will also pay for sewer force mains, or collection pipes.

The system will run from the DOC’s facility on Rt. 250 to the corner of Rt. 250 and Rt. 15 at Zion Crossroads, then shortly down Rt. 15.

The 3-2 vote (Supervisors Don Weaver and Bob Ullenbruch dissenting) authorized county staff to proceed with the design of the system at a cost of about $300,000.

Weaver objected to the significant expense.  “We’re talking about two water systems,” he said, referring to the DOC plan and the upcoming decisions surrounding the James River Water Authority (JRWA). “So where are we going to quit on all this?  Where’s the study on the return we’re going to get on this water system?… How long is it going to be before we break even?  Is this the way you go into a business?  I certainly wouldn’t go into a business this way.”

“If we want to get out of increasing tax rates we’re going to have to make an adjustment,” Supervisor Tony O’Brien countered.  “I’m strongly of the opinion that DOC is not a sufficient quantity of water and the time and opportunity for the county to partner and act for bringing in James River water is now… It’s going to cost money for 20 years.”

“When are you going to break even?” asked Ullenbruch.

“According to the studies that we’ve done in the past, anywhere from five to eight years,” O’Brien said.

“Might never happen,” Ullenbruch declared.

“Well, maybe it won’t, maybe it will, but I can guarantee what will continue to happen is that we’ll continue to raise taxes,” O’Brien said.

“And continue to go into more debt,” interjected Weaver.

“I don’t know of a business that grows that doesn’t operate with some levels of debt,” O’Brien said.

“Not when they’re in as much debt as we are,” countered Weaver.

“We have a resource.  It’s called the James River.  It’s called Zion Crossroads,” O’Brien said.  “There are counties that would die to have those resources.  We’re squandering those resources away because we refuse to make a minimal investment in this county for its economic development… And really?  We’re sitting here saying we can’t do that?”

“People are more willing to use the taxpayers’ money than they are their own,” said Weaver.

“Sometimes it’s better to do nothing than to move in a wrong direction,” said Weaver.

“We need to move forward,” broke in Chairperson Mozell Booker.  “I want to see infrastructure starting.  We get right up to the time to make this decision and then we fall apart.”

When it looked as if supervisors might postpone a vote to another evening, Booker protested: “You all are backing up again, you’re turning around flips one more time, and it doesn’t make any sense.”

“Because it doesn’t agree with you,” countered Ullenbruch.

“I want to vote on this tonight,” Booker said.

“I think the people want us to vote on this tonight,” said O’Brien.

So Booker, O’Brien, and Supervisor Mike Sheridan voted to move forward with developing the water system.

Though supervisors were scheduled to vote on the JRWA service agreement as well, they found it prudent to wait since a new iteration of the contract had arrived from Louisa County just minutes before the meeting began.

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