County approves $725,000 in carryover requests

By Heather Michon

With the new budget season about to begin, the Board of Supervisors had to decide what to do with some unexpended funds from the previous budget season at its meeting on Wednesday (Dec. 6).

County departments can request that unexpended funds be carried over for projects that couldn’t be started or completed during the fiscal year. Supervisors also have broad discretion to approve carryovers for one-time projects or unexpected expenses.

This year, there were six carryover requests totaling $236,379. 

These included a request from the Department of Social Services for $13,000 to replace its failing and obsolete phone system; $25,400 from the sheriff’s office for training and equipment; $170,000 for new radios for public safety departments; $19,000 from the Department of Emergency Services for equipment; $4,500 from the planning department to cover the printing of the comprehensive plan; and $4,000 from parks & rec for fencing.

Almost all the projects fit within the county policy and the full amount was approved by a vote of 4-0, with Patricia Eager (Palmyra) absent due to health issues.

Fluvanna County Public Schools submitted two carryover requests.

The major item was $488,891 for renovations to student bathrooms in the older part of Central Elementary. These restrooms were constructed back in the 1950s and are showing their age.

Renovating all Central’s bathrooms is estimated at $1.5 million, but the $489,000 carryover would allow the schools to tackle the more critical rooms on a faster timeline.

“Why deal with this in carryovers?” asked Chris Fairchild (Cunningham). “Why not do it as a [capital improvement project] in budget season?”

County Administrator Eric Dahl said it was mostly a matter of timing. Approving the carryover would potentially allow the schools to secure contractors and get the project rolling over the summer of 2024. If all the funding wasn’t approved until the budget passes in late April, the work might not begin until 2025.

The second carryover request was for $30,000 to commission a population study to project the potential growth of the student body over the next few years. 

Superintendent Peter Gretz said that this was probably something that should have been done some years ago but has become more critical with the development of Colonial Circle.

“The question, fundamentally, is how many students are going to come into our schools,” said School Board Chair James Kelley. 

The study would project not only how many students might come into the system but also what ages they might be when they arrive.

“Central is packed,” said Kelley. “I don’t know what to tell the staff here to do if we pick up another two classrooms of kindergartners.” Knowing what to expect would help the school system plan for what might be coming when Colonial Circle is built over the next 3-5 years.

Supervisors approved the request for the bathroom renovations but declined the request for the population study.

Other matters

Supervisors tentatively agreed to fund the renovation of the old registrar’s office to create space for the new county attorney and his staff, and to put a new HVAC system into the commonwealth attorney’s building. Full approval of the projects, totaling around $200,000, will come at the meeting on December 20.

They also approved the Tourism Strategic Plan, the county’s participation in the Virginia American Revolution 250 Commission, and approved the advertisement of a Jan. 17, public hearing on the proposed ordinance change regarding off-leash dogs on county property

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