Supervisors End Year on Positive Financial Note

By Heather Michon

The final meeting of the Fluvanna Board of Supervisors for 2019 ended on a positive financial note.
Finance Director Mary Anna Twisdale shared some of the details from the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) looking at Fiscal Year 2019 (FY19).
In all, the general fund had $52 million in revenues for FY19 and had $47.8 million in expenditures. The majority of expenditures, $16.5 million, went to schools. Debt service cost about $9 million, and public safety $8 million. “Everyone worked really hard to hold the line on expenditures,” said Twisdale. As a result, expenditures came in at $2.4 million less than anticipated.
“I can tell you some really great news,” she said. “Our projected revenue came in at $1.7 million more than we had projected.” Much of that unexpected money came from investments.
David Foley of Robinson, Farmer, Cox Associates told the supervisors the annual audit of the county finances showed that Fluvanna was complying with accepted accounting principles and required only a couple minor adjustments. “I think it speaks to the strength of the county’s finance department to have so few adjustments.”

Economic Development Coordinator Bryan Rothamel gave a presentation on branding and marketing for the county, with a focus on logos and the county seal.
Rothamel found that departments have used dozens of variations on the county logo and seal in recent years. “It becomes very confusing,” he said.
To be effective, branding needs to be consistent across all print and online channels. “We want to be laser-focused on how we present ourselves,” he explained.
For example, the county seal should be used only for official business, like tax bills and official correspondence. “It’s a super-important image for super-important things.”
He also recommended retiring some of the many different county logos and focus on just one, preferably the colorful design featuring the river, trees, and hills of the county that supervisors recently selected for the new water tower in Zion Crossroads.
Standardizing visual branding is part of a larger discussion about defining Fluvanna for both potential businesses and potential residents. Rothamel will likely be refining that message throughout the coming months.

Supervisors also heard a presentation by Joshua Bower of Crabtree, Rohrbaugh and Associates, a Charlottesville architectural firm, on the results of a study he conducted on county buildings and office space.
The firm interviewed all county department heads on their space requirements and current constraints. Some key findings included security issues presented by having the Commonwealth’s Attorney Office located down the street from the courthouse with no protected route between the buildings, the separation of Public Works into multiple buildings, and frequent staff complaints about the lack of parking.
Bower said they then drew up a set of different options supervisors might want to consider in the future.
Any option is going to be expensive. Even maintaining the status quo is likely to cost the county millions in repairs over the next twenty or more years. “I know you understand that, as buildings mature, they become more and more expensive to maintain,” said Bower.
One solution might be to build a new county administration building near the library and sheriff’s office to create a modern space for core county departments and free up some space in the current county buildings in Palmyra village and Carysbrook.
In action matters, supervisors approved an increase in the sign-on bonus for sheriff’s deputies. The bonus will increase from $3000 to $5000.
Human Resources Manager Jessica Rice said the sheriff’s office, like law enforcement offices across Virginia, is facing challenges recruiting and staffing new deputies. “Quite frankly, [the sheriff’s office] hasn’t been fully staffed since about 2017.”
A higher sign-on bonus might make joining the department more attractive to candidates and could be a valuable recruiting tool.
If deputies who receive the bonus leave in the first three years, they have to pay back part of the bonus, depending on the length of their service.

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