DOC water

A seemingly routine matter – the approval of an aerial survey of Zion Crossroads necessary for system design – hit a surprise roadblock at the Dec. 2 meeting when the vote to authorize the survey’s cost of $34,560 failed 2-2.  County Administrator Steve Nichols had to put a stop order on the system design because it couldn’t proceed without the survey.

Supervisors Bob Ullenbruch and Don Weaver voted against the survey.  Supervisor Mike Sheridan was absent for health reasons on Dec. 2 and Dec. 16.

But on Dec. 16 the matter was back on the agenda, and without any discussion whatsoever supervisors approved the survey unanimously.

When asked to explain why he changed his mind, Ullenbruch said, “After some discussion we decided to bring that back.  I’ve always been in favor of the DOC option.  We’ve already invested the funds so it made sense to bring it back.”

Why then did Ullenbruch vote no two weeks ago?  “It was brought up at the wrong time with the two special use permits,” he said, referencing the two permits from the James River water project that were killed amidst a swarm of controversy on Dec. 2.

Weaver, in turn, said that the two weeks gave him more time to think.  “Plus, I think you should crawl before you walk, and that’s really what this system is all about,” he said, meaning that the DOC option is on a more modest scale that the James River water project.  “We already have prepared water and a waste treatment plant [from the DOC], the water will be cheap – I think that’s where we should have started.  I think two systems at the same time is the wrong approach.  Sometimes I like to rethink things.”

Explaining his no vote from two weeks earlier, Weaver said, “I’m always concerned about debt.  If this county doesn’t start showing more concern about it, I think we’re heading down the wrong road.”

In other matters:

-Catherine Hobbs, chair of Fluvanna’s electoral board, asked supervisors to move the Rivanna polling place from its current location at the Lake Monticello clubhouse, where major construction will take place over the course of the year.  She suggested it be moved to the Maple Room of the Lake Monticello firehouse.  Supervisors decided to hold a public hearing on the matter Jan. 6 at 7 p.m.

-Supervisors adjusted sign ordinances to bring them into compliance with new law and court decisions.  Most notably, they decided that signs for special events, including political signs for elections, may go up 60 days before the event and must be taken down within 10 days of the end of the event.

-Finance Director Eric Dahl told supervisors that in fiscal year 2015 (FY15), the county spent 46 percent of its $80.1 million budget on schools, 32 percent on the county, 19 percent on capital improvements, and 3 percent on other expenditures.  Local funds supplied 45 percent of the county’s FY15 revenue, the state provided 33 percent, other sources made up 19 percent, and federal money provided 3 percent.  Of the $36.2 million in local dollars, 55 percent came from real property taxes, 14 percent from other local taxes, 13 percent from personal property taxes, 12 percent from public utility taxes, and 6 percent from fund balance.  At the end of FY15 the general fund contained $3.2 million of expendable money.

-Supervisors honored Ullenbruch at his last meeting before his term expires by presenting him with a plaque commemorating his four years of service.  “Some people have been dying for this day,” Ullenbruch joked as he accepted the honor.  “I want to show my appreciation for the staff especially.  You make this job much easier every day… I say a lot of stuff and you know I don’t mean 97 percent of it.  And I love you all.”

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