Fluvanna receives $2.3 million in federal funding to offset virus costs

By Heather Michon

Fluvanna County will receive $2,379,202 million under a federal program to support state and local governments impacted by COVID-19.

County Administrator Eric Dahl announced the allocation towards the end of the most recent meeting of the Board of Supervisors on Wednesday (May 20). The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, passed by Congress in mid-March, created a $150 billion pool for the states, with Virginia receiving $3.3 billion. The state has allocated funding to localities based on their population.

However, “we’re not just getting $2.3 million and we can do whatever we want with it,” Dahl cautioned. “It’s got to be used very specifically for certain items.

Some of the items include coronavirus testing, payroll costs and paid sick leave for public safety and health officials and other government employees, small business grants, and personal protective gear for employees.

Dahl gave supervisors the list of approved expenditures and asked them to start thinking about how they might want to utilize the funding. They will come back with some ideas at a future meeting.


Drug court

Supervisors approved a motion to apply for a $500,000 grant to set up a drug court in Fluvanna County, and another motion to approve the establishment of Drug Court Advisory Committee. Both items passed 5-0.

During budget season, supervisors allocated $50,000 in seed money for a drug court program, but Director of Finance Mary Anna Twisdale said the application program for grant funding “sounded a lot simpler in the presentation.”

They had since learned that the eligibility requirements included the county coming up with 25 percent — or $125,000 — of the grant in local funding or in-kind services.

Twisdale said that the county court, the sheriff’s office, and the commonwealth’s attorney were able to provide the remaining $75,000 through in-kind contributions.

Drug courts allow people charged with drug-related crimes to enter a highly structured, judicially supervised program to deal with their addiction outside a jail or prison setting. Commonwealth’s Attorney Jeff Haislip called it a “multiple phase program,” generally lasting 14 months, which included a full schedule of meetings, evaluations, group and individual counseling, job training,  and random drug testing. Participants must show measurable progress to remain in the program.

Haislip added that the program would not be open to violent felons or drug dealers. The advisory committee will set specific requirements for applicants.

“We’re very blessed in Fluvanna County to have OAR (Offender Aid & Restoration) and [Circuit Court] Judge [Richard] Moore as partners in this, because they’ve been doing this for 20 years.”

Charlottesville and Albemarle were early adopters of the drug court model, which has now spread to almost 40 other Virginia countries and localities.

If received, the $500,000 will cover the costs of hiring a drug court coordinator, drug testing kits, and other necessities, for 36 months starting in October of this year. If they don’t receive the grant, Haislip said they’d simply do their best to get the court up and running “and try to get funding from other places.”

In other business:

Supervisors unanimously re-adopted a resolution for continuity of government operations during the public health emergency for an additional 60 days.

Dahl updated supervisors on the status of several businesses with actions pending before the Planning Commission.

  • A proposed gun shop, Fluvanna Firearms, has resolved an issue regarding an entrance driveway. The property is directly behind the Fork Union Animal Hospital, and there were concerns about the two businesses sharing a driveway.
  • LKQ, an automobile reclamation business, will be submitting a site plan for a proposed facility on Memory Lane off Rt. 250 later this summer.
  • Tractor Supply will be closing on a property on Rt. 600 near the Dollar Store in early June. They are working on stormwater management and other water issues and should be submitting final site plans later this summer.

Property tax bills for the first half of 2020 were sent out around May 13. Chair Mike Sheridan asked any members of the public who might be listening in to the meeting not to call the commissioner of the revenue or the treasurer’s office to complain about the bills arriving so close to the June 5 deadline.

“We were waiting to see what was going to happen. We waited as long as we could to set our budget because we had no idea what was going on with the coronavirus and the effects of it. It is not their fault they were behind,” he said.

Per a temporary ordinance passed at the previous meeting, bills are still due on June 5, but people struggling financially due to the coronavirus have until June 30 to pay without interest or penalties.


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