Supervisors raise salaries $100 per month

By Christina Dimeo, editor

Members of the Fluvanna County Board of Supervisors decided Wednesday (May 1) to raise their salaries for the first time since 2008. Each supervisor will see a pay increase of $100 per month when the new rates take effect Jan. 1, 2020.

Chair Mike Sheridan, who currently makes $9,000 per year, will make $10,200 beginning next January. Vice chair Tony O’Brien will see a salary increase to $9,600 per year from his current pay of $8,400. The remaining supervisors will go from $7,800 to $9,000 per year.

State code requires that two of Fluvanna’s five supervisors undergo an election before a pay raise can take effect. While this provision does not eliminate supervisors’ ability to vote themselves a higher salary, it does create some additional accountability to voters.

The county’s other boards, commissions and committees have received pay increases twice or three times since 2008, according to County Administrator Steve Nichols. He examined 22 counties near Fluvanna or of similar size and found that they paid an average of $10,151 to their chairs and $8,814 to their regular members.

“It can be a controversial issue,” said Supervisor Don Weaver as the board discussed whether to approve the pay raise. “I’m going to vote against it because of my philosophy. I’ve been pretty hard on the budgets in the past, so I can be hard on myself. That [pay level] doesn’t mean that much to me.”

Weaver made it clear that, though he would not support the pay increase, he believed it was warranted. “You all deserve it,” he said. “I think you probably deserve more.”

Supervisor Mozell Booker made the point that those board members who don’t feel financial need for their salaries can donate them to charity.

“It is a lot of hours,” said Sheridan. “We have people calling us at all times and it’s our job to make sure that we listen.”

“You all put in plenty of hours, so I think this is reasonable and well-deserved,” said Nichols. The pay increase passed by a vote of 3-2 (Weaver and Supervisor Trish Eager dissenting).

James River water pipeline

Nichols said after the meeting that construction on the James River water pipeline will hopefully begin by the end of 2019.

The James River water project, a joint venture between Fluvanna and Louisa counties, consists of a water intake facility on the Point of Fork where the James and Rivanna Rivers meet near Columbia, and a raw water pipeline stretching a little over a mile to Route 6.

From that point, the Louisa County Water Authority will construct its own pipeline at its own expense to funnel water northwest through Fluvanna to Louisa County. Louisa agreed to “make all reasonable efforts” to provide up to 400,000 gallons of treated water per day to Fluvanna’s Zion Crossroads area by the end of 2018, but this timeframe has been delayed.

In January 2018, Nichols said the expected completion date of the James River water project was the end of this year. Now he is saying he hopes construction will begin by the end of this year.

A necessary permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has not arrived. The historic nature of Point of Fork, on which the intake facility will be built, has complicated the issue and delayed the issuance of a permit necessary for construction.

Point of Fork housed Rassawek, the capital city of the Monacan Indians, and a Revolutionary War arsenal. Several Fluvanna residents have expressed the belief that Native American artifacts will be disturbed or destroyed by construction on the site.

Point of Fork’s history has necessitated a review by the Department of Historic Resources.

When asked if the lengthy delay indicated problems with the project, Nichols said, “There’s nothing typical about a big public works project, but the more complicated ones, in which the Department of Historic Resources gets involved – and because ours is along a river where everyone lives – it’s just the endless delay of everyone else has a comment.”

The county now has possession of all of the land parcels necessary for pipeline construction. Assistant County Attorney Kristina Hofmann succeeded in procuring all 85 parcels, owned by 60 residents, for the county.

“She worked closely with staff, owners, and legal counsel for owners to successfully acquire all areas needed for the project, and helped negotiate prices and any special conditions while diligently protecting the interests of the county,” Nichols said while presenting Hofmann with an award of appreciation. “By her dedication, hard work and professionalism, Ms. Hofmann advanced an important project for our county.”

Staff changes

Nichols will retire as county administrator July 5. Eric Dahl, the current deputy county administrator and finance director, will take over as county administrator at that time.

Mary Anna Twisdale replaced Dahl as finance director May 1. Kelly Belanger Harris, the current clerk to the Board of Supervisors, will become assistant county administrator June 10. Caitlin Solis will then take over Harris’ former position.

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