22 May 2013
Consuming the first part of Wednesday night’s (May 15) Board of Supervisors meeting was an impassioned discussion on the timetable for the controversial proposition often called “voluntary tax contributions,” though county attorney Frederick Payne urged the Board to drop the word “tax” like a hot potato. “These are ‘voluntary contributions,’” he said, stressing that the word “tax” is inaccurate and can “taint” the concept.
These “voluntary contributions” would enable citizens to give extra, earmarked money towards parts of Fluvanna’s budget. So an avid school supporter, therefore, could donate to the school system, or an outdoor lover could support Fluvanna’s trail system.
In actuality, this concept is difficult to work out logistically. For example, could a citizen actually contribute money specifically towards the trails? Or would the money go to parks and recreation, to be spent as the department sees fit? As Supervisors Shaun Kenney and Bob Ullenbruch pushed to discover the “hold up” in implementing this idea, Payne and county administrator Steve Nichols warned them that these very issues require time to wade through.
“Prince Edward County has enacted it and Greene County just voted it in, so we’re not reinventing the wheel,” Ullenbruch stated. Kenney asked first Jonathan McMahon, IT director, and then Barbara Horlacher, finance director, to speak to the delay. Neither one is responsible, however, and as Kenney searched the crowd for treasurer Linda Lenherr, Nichols again reminded the board that this complicated issue takes time to implement. “If it were that simple, it’d be done yesterday,” he stated. “There is no one stopping us and no one holding it up. There are a lot of things that could be problems so you need to decide how to deal with them.”
“We just want to see some movement,” Ullenbruch and Kenney both replied. Nichols told the board he could have a proposal ready in a month if his office put everything else on hold, but seemed to think later in the summer was a more realistic option.
In other matters:
– the Board heard a report on the $4 million worth of bonds Fluvanna’s Economic Development Authority (EDA) issued to Veritas School in Richmond. As Horlacher and finance lawyer Richard Hurlbert explained it, these transactions are common practice. The EDA will collect $5,000 when the transaction closes and $1,000 every year following in which the loan remains outstanding.
– Pat Groot, grants administrator, gave the Board an update on the ongoing Fork Union Streetscape endeavor. Within 30 days, the Fork Union Village Project group will submit plans to the Virginia Department of Transportation for final review. On Rt. 15 from the post office to Pettit Foster Drive, the group hopes to put in curb and gutter, crosswalks, concrete sidewalks, vehicle entrances, street lights, metering equipment, and grass utility strips. Except in the case of crosswalks, these improvements would happen on the west side, not the Fork Union Military Academy side, of the road. If possible, the group seeks to put in brick pavers in lieu of grass utility strips. Ideally, this project would extend further south to Academy Road, but Groots doubts finances will support this. Funding this project is $385,000 in grants and just under $100,000 in required county cash matches.
– Towards the end of the meeting, Supervisor Donald Weaver announced that he will seek reelection in his district of Cunningham. Afterward, Weaver shared with the Fluvanna Review goals for his next term, if elected. Giving credit to Kenney for initially publicizing the idea, Weaver shared that he “would like to see a sustainable budget done right, that we can depend on from year to year, so schools and constitutional officers would know about how much they can expect from year to year.”