Supervisors Hear About High priority Needs

By Heather Michon


“We have a lot of expensive things on the agenda tonight,” Finance Director Mary Anna Twisdale told the Board of Supervisors at the top of her presentation on Wednesday (Nov. 6) evening.

While it will increase after the completion of the annual audit and as some department return unused funds at the end of the budget year, at the moment, the county has an unassigned fund balance of just under $2.5 million.

Supervisors had to decide how—or if—to allocate about $750,000 out of that fund to several high-priority items on the fire and rescue wish list.

The biggest and most crucial item on that list is a replacement set of self-contained breathing apparatus, or SCBAs, the air tanks and masks firefighters wear to protect them from smoke and toxic chemicals. The current set has reached end-of-life. A new set will cost an estimated $818,000.

Over the last two fiscal years, the county had put aside $100,000 a year to fund replacements and applied for a grant to fund the remaining $618,000.

However, the grant did not come through.

Twisdale told the supervisors that in terms of “wants and needs,” this was a definite need, critical safety equipment that cannot be deferred much longer.

Chair Mike Sheridan (Columbia), a volunteer with the Kents Store Volunteer Fire Department said some of the units had already malfunctioned, “and if they malfunctioned at the wrong place at the wrong time, you could have a catastrophic event.”

The motion passed 5-0.


Next up was a request for $83,000 to replace Lake Monticello Water Rescue’s support vehicle.

John Lye of the Fluvanna Fire and Rescue Association (FRA)  said the current vehicle is 28 years old and leaking fluids from most of its major systems. For a replacement, they are looking at a fully outfitted 2020 Silverado.

Supervisors approved up to $95,000 in debt funding for a replacement vehicle earlier in the year. Lye and Twisdale explained that they were changing the request to $83,000 in cash funding so Lake Monticello Volunteer Fire & Rescue (LMVFR) can hold the title and insurance as the currently do with the rest of their fleet. If the vehicle is purchased by the county, the county would hold the title and insurance.

County Administrator Eric Dahl argued that it was best to stay consistent, even if it meant dipping into the cash funds. “To me, it’s either you do all vehicles in the county’s name or Lake Monticello keeps them in their name, instead of these oddball onesies and twosies.”

The supervisors finally approved cash funding by a vote of 4-1, with Supervisor Trish Eager (Palmyra) voting no.


Chris Aley of the Fork Union Volunteer Fire Department asked for an additional allocation of $55,000 for the replacement of Engine 20.

Earlier this year, supervisors allocated $600,000 in debt funding for the vehicle, without having had the opportunity to cost out the potential cost.

Aley said they first thought it might cost up to $740,000, but by looking at every possible component, they managed to get it down to $655,000. “There are no extras on this truck,” he said. Given the increased costs of steel and aluminum, he didn’t think it would be possible to get the price much lower.

The proposed truck includes a modest custom cab with additional airbags for crew safety. After heart attacks, vehicle crashes and rollovers are the leading cause of firefighter fatalities. The only two Fluvanna County firefighters to die in the line of duty were killed in a rollover in the 1980s. Aley said he felt they’d be “sacrificing safety” to go with a less robust cab design.

Supervisor Tony O’Brien (Rivanna) commented with costs only going up, deferring big-ticket items isn’t going to reduce the burden to the county over the long term. “The reality is that we’re still years away from capturing other sources of revenue, so we’re either debt funding or raising taxes, and that’s just the reality.”

The board approved the $55,000 increase on a 4-1 vote, this time with Mr. Sheridan voting no.


“Let me ask Tony something,” said Supervisors Don Weaver (Cunningham). “He said we don’t have any more means to capture money. What did you mean by that?”

O’Brien explained: “The levers we have are the same levers we’ve always had,” primarily real estate and personal property taxes. Without new sources, like the meal tax that failed last year, or a business tax, or some other form of revenue capture, there’s no avenue for growth.

That will change when the Zion Crossroads water project is complete and commercial growth increases the tax base, “but even once that happens, it’s still going to take a period of time, so I can’t see where we’re going to have huge amounts of extra money over the next 4-5 years that are going to meet the needs we have. So we’re going to have to take on debt,” he continued.

“I know it’s disappointing to take on more debt. I know you’re focused on that, and I appreciate that,” he said. “If we continue to postpone things, at some point and time, we’re still going to debt finance things.”

O’Brien also noted that there was a time when the county’s debt was $110 million, and it’s now down to about $95 million, and they continue to pay it off at a rate of $5-6 million per year. Dahl added that all outstanding debt was currently at “rock-bottom” interest rates.


Supervisors approved updates to the inclement weather policy for employees, a new contract for security upgrades at the courthouse, and a renewal of mandatory environmental monitoring program at the County Landfill.

They also heard reports from VDOT, the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission, and Children’s Services.


Related Posts

dewi88 cuanslot dragon77 cuan138 enterslots rajacuan megahoki88 ajaib88 warung168 fit188 pusatwin pusatwin slot tambang88 mahkota88 slot99 emas138