Supervisors take first look at FY25 capital improvement projects

By Heather Michon

Supervisors took their first in-depth look at capital improvement projects (CIPs) requested for Fiscal Year 2025 during their work session on Wednesday (Feb. 21).

County Administrator Eric Dahl proposed $7,998,711 in projects for the coming year, spread across public works, parks and recreation, utilities, public safety, and schools.

Each year’s CIP requests focus on replacing or updating county buildings, vehicles, equipment, and infrastructure. Supervisors have the final say in which projects receive funding in the upcoming year and which get set aside for the future.

Wednesday’s meeting was an opportunity for department heads to talk about their specific requests and make their pitches for what they see as their highest priorities.

Public Works Director Calvin Hickman is slated to receive $390,000 for upgrades at the Convenience Center, $150,000 for HVAC upgrades at Carysbrook Performing Arts Center, and $65,000 for fencing at the maintenance shop.

He also argued for not pushing $1.3 million in funding for renovations at the historic courthouse forward to the FY2026 budget.

“We’ve really got the ball rolling now to start that work,” he said. “I would like to see this continually funded.”

Dahl countered that there was already around $800,000 in funding and $300,000 in grants available for phase I, including an architectural survey to define what needs to be done to restore the 193-year old structure. He believed this work wouldn’t be completed in the upcoming fiscal year.

Hickman said they could be well into phase II by the start of FY2026, and lack of funding could delay the beginning of that work until July 2025.

Superintendent Mike Sheridan said if the project moved faster than anticipated, the board could always allocate money from the general fund.

Mindful of the county’s fiscal limitations, departments frequently seek other funding sources. 

Emergency Management Coordinator Debbie Smith had requested $150,000 for a whole-building generator at the Fluvanna Community Center in Fork Union. The building is used as a shelter during extreme weather and other emergencies.

Since she made the request, she found a state grant program that could fund up to $94,000 of that cost. They should know if they have won the grant by mid-April.

The sheriff’s office has requested $235,000 for replacement vehicles.

“There’s a vehicle shortage in the state,” said Sheriff Eric Hess. “We don’t even know what we can get.”

For police vehicles, the cost of the car itself is compounded by the costs of specialized equipment. Hess said Fluvanna uses less equipment than other local jurisdictions, but the price of mandatory items has increased over recent years.

The department tries to run each vehicle for at least 120,000 miles. With such a large amount of territory to cover, it’s common for deputies to drive 200-250 miles per shift. Police vehicles are also left to idle, sometimes for hours, while deputies are on the scene of incidents and accidents, adding to engine wear and tear.

As in most years, the biggest-ticket items were in emergency vehicles and the schools.

Dahl’s budget allocated $1.2 million each to replace Lake Monticello’s Engine 52 and Palmyra’s Engine 11. Another $500,000 was earmarked for ambulances 45 and 45. Emergency Services also requested $256,000 in new ventilators, AEDs, and personal protective equipment.

For the schools, the biggest projects are $1 million for renovating the bathrooms at Central Elementary, $900,000 to resurface the track at the high school, and another $475,000 to resurface the football field. 

Supervisors discussed these and other potential critical needs and asked some departments for more information on specific line items, but no decisions were made during the work session.

They have until their March 20 meeting to vote on the FY25 tax rates and CIP budget. After that point, they can move funds around, but they have to stick within the limits of that advertised budget.

Other items

During the main meeting, supervisors unanimously approved:

Around $30,000 in additional funding for the replacement of Fluvanna fire chief’s car 1 and Kents Store chief’s car 30;

A public hearing advertisement for minor amendments to the language in county ordinances regarding payment agreements at the treasurer’s office;

A grant application for a Virginia Tourism Corporation Marking Leverage Program grants of $40,000. 

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