Supervisors talk coronavirus and budgets

By Heather Michon

Fluvanna County is taking preliminary steps against the coronavirus.

In his report to the Board of Supervisors on Wednesday night (March 4), County Administrator Eric Dahl said there were already talks ongoing between the Virginia Department of Health and local governments. County office buildings will be getting some extra cleaning, and staff was being reminded to follow basic infection control like frequent handwashing, covering coughs, and staying home if they’re sick.

However, Dahl added that if positive cases were discovered in Virginia, “then we’re going to have to start creating more of an actionable plan.”


At a work session after the regular meeting, supervisors heard from Calvin Hickman, director of public works and Aaron Spitzer, head of parks and recreation.

Hickman, who manages 43 county buildings and properties, reminded supervisors that “it takes a lot of money to maintain old buildings,” and costs for materials and services were on the rise. Asked what would happen if he didn’t get the funding, he said they would prioritize critical issues, but all the needed work simply wouldn’t get done.

Spitzer said one of his high-priority projects was fencing for the soccer field at Pleasant Grove, which is continually torn up by dogs, deer, and pedestrians. Fencing will cost about $50,000.

Dahl spoke about the many capital improvement projects (CIPs) on the county’s wish list, from new school buses to major renovations on facilities.

Supervisor Tony O’Brien (Rivanna) said that with interest rates low and poised to go lower, “if we’re going to borrow money, there’s no better time to borrow money than now.” Dahl agreed that it would be possible develop a package of high-priority projects and secure low-interest debt funding, although he couldn’t say offhand how that might impact the current proposed budget plan.

One area where the county might be able to save money is in health insurance. Human Resources Director Jessica Rice explained that while the county’s current provider, Cigna, was looking at a significant rate increase for 2021, The Local Choice, an Anthem provider, was offering them a package that would result in a 22% decrease over their current rates. More study needs to be done on the potential financial impacts on staffs and their families under the proposed plan.

Funding approved

During the regular meeting, supervisors unanimously approved a $197,000 contract with CenturyLink to install new call handling equipment for the county’s 911 center. This expenditure was anticipated as part of the migration to the new E911 system in 2018.

A supplemental appropriation of up to $150,000 in debt funding for Fork Union Volunteer Fire Company’s Engine 20 was approved 3-1 with Chair Mike Sheridan (Columbia) voting against the measure and Supervisors Tony O’Brien (Rivanna) absent for the first part of the evening.

Funding for the purchase of Engine 20 was approved in November 2019, but the original appropriation did not include equipment to outfit the vehicle.

Public hearings

Supervisors voted 4-0 to approve a public hearing for a rate increase for customers of the Fork Union Sanitary District (FUSD). With almost $200,000 in deferred maintenance projects, under Dahl’s proposal, the current rate of $21 for the first 2,000 gallons of usage would raise to $21.42. The cost for every 1,000 gallons over that would rise from $11 to $11.22.

This would be the first increase for FUSD customers since 2014, but likely won’t be the last. The system currently needs about $200,000 in deferred maintenance and could need an additional $500,000 in the next five to ten years.

The public hearing will be held April 15 at 7 p.m.

Supervisors also approved a public hearing that same night for a budget amendment on the Zion Crossroads water and sewer project.

Management analyst Liz McIver explained that they need to shift $2.7 million from the unassigned fund balance to the project earlier than expected. While the request would simply move money from one fund to another, a public hearing is required under state law.



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