Dahl set to become county administrator

By Heather Michon, correspondent

Eric Dahl, Fluvanna’s finance director and deputy county administrator, will take over for outgoing County Administrator Steve Nichols in July.

The Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to approve Dahl as Nichols’ successor at the start of Wednesday’s (March 6) meeting, capping off the vote with a round of applause and group photos with Dahl and his wife Jill, who works as an educator with the Charlottesville City Schools.

Nichols announced his retirement in mid-December. He’ll leave his position July 5 after more than seven years as administrator.

“Eric has done an outstanding job with the finance department and as our deputy county administrator,” said Chair Mike Sheridan. “This is an exciting time in Fluvanna and he is the right man for the job.”

Dahl started with Fluvanna county government in 2011 and became director of finance in 2014. He was named deputy county administrator in May 2016.

Dahl manages the county’s financial planning and reporting, annual budget, capital improvements plan, grants, accounts payable, payroll, procurement, risk management, debt management, debt issuance, financial software system administration, information technology functions, the Children Services Act, and currently assists Nichols in directing the county’s day-to-day operations.

“I am honored by the unanimous trust and support from the board to be chosen as the next county administrator,” Dahl said. “Over the years I’ve had the opportunity to work with a wonderful leader and mentor in Nichols, as well as multiple board members and an amazing county staff that has helped prepare me for this position… I am excited by this opportunity and I look forward to achieving the goals set by the Board of Supervisors.”

Economic development presentation

Board members also heard a presentation by new Economic Development Coordinator Bryan Rothamel that outlined what he sees as “opportunities and struggles” facing Fluvanna County.

About 7,000 of Fluvanna’s 26,000 residents work outside the county – mostly in Charlottesville. “That means an hour a day they’re not spending in the county,” Rothamel said. It also makes them more likely to shop, eat, and gas up closer to the city, stalling local economic growth.

“People really live in Charlottesville, but they sleep here,” he said.

To combat this, Rothamel said, “We need to show residents what we can do here,” while also encouraging people outside the county to come for a visit.

Digital marketing campaigns could have a role in his development plans. Among some potential taglines are “Fluvanna: Where less is more,” and, playing off Pleasant Grove, “Fluvanna: Pleasantly you.”

Rothamel will also focus on outreach to existing local businesses and drawing new businesses to the area, particularly Zion Crossroads, where the county will hold two public information meetings in late April.

Parks and rec budget

After dinner and closed session, four supervisors reconvened for a budget work session. Chair Mike Sheridan left early for family reasons.

Aaron Spitzer, parks and recreation director, talked about some of the items included in his departmental budget requests.

Some suggestions were relatively small, including a $500 advertising budget for Pleasant Grove’s 25thanniversary celebrations later this year, and $2,400 for supplies for the senior center.

He also talked about the need for fencing around the soccer fields and security fencing at Pleasant Grove and the dog park. He and his staff often find evidence of campfires and refuse along the river trails, as people are able to enter the areas after dark.

Spitzer made a pitch for two part-time staff members: a park maintenance staffer at $11,500 a year and a ServSafe-certified staffer for the new commercial kitchen at the Fluvanna Community Center for about $13,700 a year.

Under a new state regulation, commercial kitchens have to have ServSafe-certified staff on site when in use. Since the kitchen will be rented out to the public, who may not have those certifications, an on-call staff member would keep the county in compliance with state rules.

With budget season in full swing, there are still plenty of line items for supervisors to look at, including the county’s fire and rescue services.

“We really have to have a hardcore, no-kidding discussion [with county departments] about what we need and what we can afford,” Nichols said.

Nichols and Emergency Management Coordinator Debbie Smith talked about equipment and vehicle replacements and, more generally, about where the different squads might standardize equipment and training to maximize budget dollars.

Supervisors are scheduled to set an advertised real estate tax rate March 20. Final decisions will take place in mid-April.

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