Tax rate set


Wednesday night (April 15) supervisors voted 5-0 to adopt a fiscal year 2016 (FY16) budget of $68.3 million with a corresponding real property tax rate of 89.9 cents per $100 valuation and a personal property tax rate of $4.35 per $100 valuation.  These new rates constitute a 3.5-cent increase over the equalized real property tax rate of 86 cents and a 20-cent increase from the 2014 personal property tax rate of $4.15.  The real estate taxes of the average Fluvanna homeowner will increase by $74 from $1,634 to $1,708.

“A 5-0 vote by a Board of our composition sends a powerful message that compromise was reached to address the needs and concerns of the county,” said Supervisor Tony O’Brien after the meeting.  “This is a recognition that the county has some real needs, and it’s rare when you have all five supervisors saying, ‘This is the right thing for the county at this point in time.’  I think that speaks volumes as to the hard work and dedication of staff and of supervisors to find that compromise.”

Supervisor Bob Ullenbruch agreed.  “I think this Board as a group of five worked very well together this year,” he said, “and I think we did the people’s work with a lot of compromise and a lot of thinking.  I mean, a 5-0 vote doesn’t happen very often, and I think it’s a tribute to all five of us who took the time to work together.”

“What can I say?” said Chairperson Mozell Booker with a wide smile.  “I have to give credit to the Board members for really trying to compromise.  When we had our work sessions they made sure they brought people in to address their questions, and they didn’t take no for an answer.  They looked for ways to make it work.”

Supervisor Mike Sheridan explained how supervisors came to their unanimous landmark vote.  “We went to the Morris Room that [work session] night and we didn’t sit down as Republicans, we didn’t sit down as Democrats – we sat down as Flucos,” he said.  “Groups have decided to jam the vote through the other side’s throat, but we were not going to do that.  We were going to sit here and try to see if we couldn’t figure out what was the best thing to do for Fluvanna.  And it’s probably one of the proudest moments I’ve had being on the Board, the way that each side sat down and worked together.”

“Well, I think it’s a compromise budget,” said Supervisor Don Weaver, “but I think next year it’s going to be much more difficult.  I don’t think we should go much over a 1 or 2 percent tax increase each year, and I’m afraid that’s not going to be possible next year.  So it’s going to be tough.”

The Board also unanimously adopted the FY16-FY20 capital improvements plan (CIP), though only FY16’s section of the plan is binding.

Before the vote, supervisors voted to allow rezoning of a 6.1 parcel of land adjacent to the Lake Monticello Volunteer Fire Department and Rescue Squad (LMVFDRS) and purchased for the purposes of expanding its facility.  The parcel’s zoning changed from A-1 to R-4.

Fluvanna resident Dee McCauley spoke against the rezoning during the public hearing.  The boundaries of LMVFDRS’s new land snake around her family’s existing homes on South Boston Road, and she found what she thought were certain by-right R-4 uses of the land objectionable.  Since zoning sticks with a piece of property, not its owner, she pointed out that should LMVFDRS sell the land in the future, an owner with different intentions could come in and essentially destroy the rural quiet around her family’s land.

“We vitally need that [property],” said Len Bozza, president of LMVFDRS.  “We have no other place to expand.”

The property on which the current LMVFDRS facility sits is already zoned R-4, and building an addition over a property line onto land zoned differently could prove problematic.  The setbacks mandated in A-1 are also more difficult to work with than those in R-4, explained Justin Shimp, engineer for the project.  He clarified that R-4 zoning does not in fact allow the uses to which McCauley had objected.

LMVFDRS had already proffered out three by-right R-4 uses of the land: single-family detached, single-family attached, and townhouse dwellings.  But it held onto the right to build a small number of apartment buildings, just in case it someday found itself with the funds to build low-rent apartments for volunteers as an aid in recruitment.

After much discussion, however, it became clear that these hypothetical apartments were a sticking point with supervisors, so Bozza proffered them out as well.  At that, the rezoning passed 5-0.

On April 1 Ullenbruch made headlines by storming out of the supervisor meeting after O’Brien said his remarks sounded like those of a Communist.  But by Wednesday night peace had been restored.  In fact, Ullenbruch slung his arm around O’Brien’s shoulder after the meeting and declared, “We’re comrades.”

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