Get to know Eric Dahl, deputy county administrator and finance director

By Madeline Otten, correspondent

In the summer of 2011 Eric Dahl, Fluvanna’s deputy county administrator and finance director, and his family relocated from Tampa, Fla., to Fluvanna County because his wife, Jill, was hired as an assistant for Charlottesville City Schools. While moving to Virginia was a new start for Dahl and his family, he was going back to a familiar place that he once called home.

Dahl graduated from Charlottesville High School and moved to Fort Myers, Fla., to attend Florida Gulf Coast University. He graduated in 1999 and earned his bachelor of science in business management and entrepreneurship.

A couple months after settling into their new home, Dahl landed his first role with Fluvanna County as a budget analyst in October 2011. He was part of a team that was responsible for preparing and reviewing the annual county budget, tax rates, and capital improvements plans for submission to the Board of Supervisors. He also assisted the finance director and provided ongoing budgetary monitoring and reporting for all county offices and departments.

In July 2013 the budget analyst position expanded and Dahl was promoted to management analyst. While most of his tasks and functions remained the same from his previous role, he also worked with grants administration, special projects, and oversaw system administration for the Munis financial software system.

After being in this role for a little less than a year, the finance director position became vacant and Dahl took the initiative to apply. He was selected as finance director in March 2014.

“All of my Fluvanna County local government experience has been an invaluable resource to get me to where I am today. While working in the finance department and being involved with the budget process, you get the opportunity to collaborate with all offices, departments and agencies,” said Dahl. “You get a better understanding of the required resources to operate departments, the types of services they provide to citizens, revenues generated and the staff that make it all happen.”

His official title as of July 2016 is deputy county administrator and finance director. While some may call these two positions, Dahl sees this as one role that has a lot of oversight and collaboration with the county government. As deputy county administrator, he assists County Administrator Steve Nichols in day-to-day operations, serves on boards, committees, and commissions, and is the acting county administrator when the Nichols is away.

As finance director he has oversight over financial planning and reporting, budget, capital improvement plans, grants, accounts payable, payroll, procurement, risk and debt management, debt issuance and financial software system administration.

“I certainly cannot do it all,” said Dahl. “The finance department has four dedicated and hard-working staff members that play a key role in the financial well-being of the county.”

The finance department has typical tasks that occur on a daily basis such as processing payroll biweekly, sending out payments to vendors for goods and services, issuing contracts, making journal entries, and monitoring budgets. However, Dahl enjoys that fact that there is no such thing as a typical day; every day is something new.

The team shuffles between its normal functions while adding in special projects. Not having enough hours in the work day to get everything done is a hard task for any job, but the finance department does its best to prioritize and work a litter harder to get each one accomplished.

When it comes to new projects and monitoring old ones, one of the biggest challenges for Dahl and his team is finding ways to moderate tax rate increases for the citizens of the county during the annual budget process. The proposed expenditure budgets are carefully reviewed against the past five years. The review looks at actual historical expenditures that were monitored for increasing or decreasing trends, adjusted for new program increases or reduced for previous year one-time costs to put forward lean department budgets.

“We continually look for ways to diversify our revenue sources; whether through proposing new revenue sources like a meals tax or EMS cost recovery, or strategically investing in infrastructure, for example the Zion Crossroads water and sewer system, to increase the tax base of commercial businesses in our county,” said Dahl. “It is crucial to continue to grow the commercial business tax base to alleviate the tax burden on citizens. This will be a continued theme in budget years to come until we start to see more business development in the county.”

Dahl wants to continue to implement different modules in the Munis financial system to create efficiencies, specifically a citizen self-service to offer credit card payment options within the county. He also wants to ensure that the Zion Crossroads water and sewer system constructions project is on target and budget.

As for long term goals, Dahl wants the Board of Supervisors’ 2020-21 strategic initiatives and actions adopted in January 2020 to guide departments and staff on the long term goals for the county.

Dahl enjoys outdoor activities such as downhill skiing, mountain biking, kayaking, hiking and camping. On the weekends, he can be found enjoying his hobbies, going to the movies or out to dinner, getting together with family, or relaxing.

Eric and his wife, Jill, live in the Lake Monticello area. Jill is the program administrator for Lugo-McGinness Academy for the Charlottesville City Schools. They have two sons, Macen and Garrison, who both graduated from Fluvanna County High School.

Over his years of working for Fluvanna County, Dahl has appreciated working in the community where he lives and knowing that the projects that he is involved with will have a positive impact on the citizens and the community.

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