Request for $1,000 sparks discussion

By Heather Michon

Several graduates of the Fluvanna Leadership Development Program (FLDP), including retired Fork Union Supervisor Mozell Booker, took to the podium Wednesday evening (April 3) to encourage the Board of Supervisors to support their request for funding in the 2025 budget.

The program was established in 2003 to get citizens interested in county life. In addition to learning about all aspects of county government, business, and local history, each year’s class takes on a project designed to improve life in Fluvanna.

Like many county nonprofits, the FLDP requests funding each year. However, since making its pitch to the supervisors in January, the group has become concerned that they might not receive the requested $1,000. 

FLDP board member Rudy Garcia told supervisors that over the past 21 years, the program has produced over 450 graduates, over 200 of whom had later served on county and regional boards and committees. 

“As the board of directors for this county, which is in effect a $100 million a year business, surely you can see that the small investment that we ask of you pales in comparison to the return on your investment,” he said.

There seemed to be general agreement that the amount of the request wasn’t the key issue. Garcia noted that all those funds go directly back to the county through school bus rentals and meals at local restaurants.

Charlie White, who co-chairs the FLDP board, said the failure to fill the request “could be perceived as a loss of confidence in the program,” even if that was not the intent.

Former supervisor Mozell Booker gives each class a talk on African-American history in Fluvanna and other topics. She listed many of the projects produced over the years that enhanced the county’s life.

“This program is so valuable,” she said. “I want you to suggest some projects. Have your departments suggest some things that they’ve wanted to do, and we can do them for you.”

At the budget work session following the meeting, Chair Chris Fairchild (Cunningham), whose questions back in January had sparked the FLDP’s concerns, pointed out that he had asked the same questions in the previous budget year and had, in the end, voted to approve the payout.

He said he focused on why taxpayer dollars should go to organizations that could arguably self-fund. He noted that FLDP could raise $1,000 by increasing annual tuition by $2.

Fairchild also pushed back on the idea that failure to fund would indicate a lack of county support.

“No matter what happens with this $1,000, they’re getting a very notable amount of support, both in labor and in dollars,” he said. “So I think that should be considered when there’s discussion on it on all sides.”

Other items:

Supervisors approved a $500,000 tax grant to Central Virginia Electric Cooperative (CVEC) for competition of the county-wide broadband project. County Administrator Eric Dahl said that CVEC had fulfilled the spirit of the agreement signed back in 2017 and finished the main project two years ahead of schedule. He added that instead of the promised 10 new jobs within the county, CVEC had created 20 new positions.

The board also approved the formation of a Solar Ordinance Review Committee, which will make recommendations on utility-scale solar development and regulations for county solar projects by the end of the year. Supervisors Tony O’Brien (Rivanna) and Tim Hodge (Palmyra) were selected to represent the board, and the Planning Commission will appoint two members of their own at its April 9 meeting.

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