When setting an advertised tax rate, supervisors try to give themselves some wiggle room. By law, the adopted tax rate can be lower than the advertised rate, but it can’t be higher.

The advertised FY17 budget total is $78,915,765. Personal property tax is advertised to hold steady at $4.35 per $100 valuation. Machinery and tools tax is also advertised to stay the same at $2 per $100.

“We can’t continue to be raising our taxes to a point where we people won’t come [to live in Fluvanna],” said Eager. “I’ve had neighbors tell me that they’re leaving because they can’t keep up with the taxes… I think that we have to be responsible to our citizens.”

“I think we are being responsible to our citizens by investing in the future,” said O’Brien. “We offer some of the lowest total tax burden in the area.”

“I don’t want anybody to leave Fluvanna County,” said Booker. “But if they cannot buy into and see what we’re trying to do for the future, then I want them to be happy and satisfied, and if that means [moving out of the county], then that’s what they will have to do.”

“We have other expenses to consider,” countered Eager. “We’ve got both water systems coming, and that’s going to increase taxes. I think we really have to be responsible, because we know we have these expenses coming. We’ve already obligated ourselves.”

When the motion was proposed to advertise a 94-cent rate, Weaver objected, “You’re just leaving the door completely wide open that you can do anything you want to.”

“The majority of the savings you’ll find in the budget are by not giving staff a salary increase,” said O’Brien. “You can save money that way but is that fair to those employees?…So we have to be competitive in providing a fair salary and a fair wage for our employees.  And if we don’t do that then we’ll lose those employees.”

“You don’t want staff to leave, but you don’t want your citizens to leave either,” countered Eager.

“There are people who leave this area because our schools aren’t properly funded. There are people who leave because they aren’t getting the services they want,” said O’Brien. “But our job is to make sure our county is competitive.”

At that point, Sheridan ended the conversation. The 94-cent advertised tax rate passed 3-2.

Wayne Stephens, director of public works, provided supervisors with what he cautiously termed “good news” about the Fork Union Sanitary District (FUSD).

Monthly bills are up about 15 percent thanks to the rate increase recently implemented, Stephens said. To date FUSD’s expenses are lower than budgeted and there have been no major failures so far this fiscal year. For a water system plagued with technical difficulties and meager financials, FUSD currently seems to be doing well.

In fact, current projections show that $25,000 to $30,000 will be available for needed work to bring the Carysbrook well online, said Stephens. Not only that, but FUSD may be able to pay back $12,000 to $15,000 against previous loans from the county, which currently total $118,000.

When Booker asked if Stephens has any concerns about the quality of the water, Stephens admitted that the water does have “secondary contaminants” that give it an orange or brown color. Calling the concerns “aesthetic,” he said “there’s definitely no danger” to those who use the water. “When you work on the system, it stirs things up a little, and the water might be a little cloudy,” he said.

Weaver praised Stephens for coming up with a plan to reduce FUSD’s debt and to budget for major breakdowns. “I’m very pleased at how we’ve moved along these last couple of years,” Weaver said.

In other matters:

Cheryl Elliott, emergency services coordinator, informed supervisors that the tornado that touched down in Fluvanna Feb. 24 caused over $300,000 in damage. Supervisors approved a local emergency declaration in order to help pursue possible reimbursement for damage costs.

Supervisors approved an obligation to support the debt of the James River Water Authority, a joint venture between Fluvanna and Louisa to bring water from the James River to Zion Crossroads. The financing will not exceed $10 million, said County Administrator Steve Nichols. Fluvanna will bear up to $5 million of that cost. The money to pay for that obligation is contained within the FY16 and proposed FY17 budgets.

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