County administrator addresses bond funding rumors

By Heather Michon, correspondent 

Att the top of the Board of Supervisors meeting on Wednesday (Sept. 4), County Administrator Eric Dahl addressed rumors arising from the announcement of a public hearing before the Economic Development Authority (EDA) later this month. The EDA is looking at issuing approximately $3.7 million in tax-exempt bonds to the Soccer Organization Charlottesville Area (SOCA) for the construction of a new fieldhouse in Albemarle County.

Dahl said he had received some calls and emails from citizens wondering why Fluvanna bonds would be used to fund an Albemarle project. “The answer is: we’re not funding it,” he told supervisors.

Fluvanna County has a bank qualified bond issuing capacity of around $10 million. None is earmarked for county projects in 2019.

The EDA is authorized to work as “a conduit” between the county and tax-exempt organizations in need of funding to use some of that lending capacity. Borrowers pay the EDA both an upfront fee and annual payments, and the fees then fund EDA’s economic development work within the county.

This is not the first time the EDA has facilitated the issuing of bonds for entities outside the county.

Dahl reminded supervisors that the county had approved bonds for the Veritas School in Richmond and for Region Ten as recently as 2013.

Fluvanna resident Sam Patterson spoke during public comments and asked the supervisors not to support the bond issuance if it comes back to them for final approval later this year.

In his comments, Patterson argued that it “frankly sends all the wrong signals” to local soccer families for the county to fund new training facilities to benefit a rival league.

Patterson added the Fluvanna Youth Soccer Association (FYSA) doesn’t have the resources SOCA already has and is about to lose its donated practice grounds in Zion Crossroads.

The EDA will hold its public hearing on the proposal on Thursday, Sept. 12, at 5 p.m. in the county administration building.

New position

With 112 heating, ventilation, and cooling (HVAC) systems countywide, the supervisors have been looking into creating a position for a full-time HVAC specialist to join the public works department.

Jessica Rice, director of human resources, said the county currently pays $142,000 per year to bring in a contractor to perform routine maintenance and repairs. By her estimates, hiring a specialist could save between 40-45 percent annually.

Supervisors voted 5-0 to approve Rice’s proposed job description and pay proposals. The position will cost around $62,000 in pay and benefits per year, and there will be a one-time cost of $28,000 for a truck and tools.

The position was posted on the county website with an application closing date of Sept. 20.

Fair report

Parks and Recreation Director Aaron Spitzer reported on last month’s county fair at Pleasant Grove.

Attendance ranged from approximately 6,000 to over 7,000 per day over the four-day event. Between gate sales, vendor space rentals, and carnival rides, the county brought in around $25,300; total expenditures were $15,600.

Spitzer highlighted the amount of time and energy that goes into planning the fair, staffing it, and cleaning it all up. He estimates he and his staff spent about 365 hours on the event. Members of the Fair Board, headed by Wade Parrish, contributed over 265 hours on it and raised and donated over $23,000.

For next year, Spitzer recommended raising the gate ticket price from $2 to $3 and giving that extra dollar to the Fair Board for use in the following year’s event. Currently, they receive no county funding.

He also recommended the Fair Committee be allowed to host a beer and wine garden on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., likely focusing on local wines and breweries.

While there was no formal motion, the supervisors signaled they supported his suggestions.

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