Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Speak softly, but never back away from a fight

The passing of Ned Creasey, District 3 Supervisor on March 10 is a sad day for Goochland County. Since taking office in 2008, after handily winning a three person electoral contest, Ned began the arduous task of turning the ship of Goochland government from a course toward the rapids of dysfunction into the calm seas of excellence.
Ned Creasey celebtating on election night 2007

Ned was an unassuming presence and a man of few, but important, words. He listened, watched, and was unafraid to ask embarrassing questions. Those who underestimated him did so at their peril.

He lived a life of service. First in the United States Navy, then as a police officer before going into construction. After moving to Goochland with his wife Diana and five children, Ned devoted his spare time to saving lives  as a fire-rescue volunteer. His devotion to and respect for those who leave the safety of home and hearth to go in harm’s way to help others was evident in his time in elected office. He understood the challenges faced by those who work in public safety to service the public and pay bills with often limited income.

Two of Ned’s sons, Shawn and Steven, have been Goochland deputies for many years.

In addition to his fire-rescue and American Legion Post 215 affiliations, Ned was an enthusiastic amateur radio operator. He insisted that the new county emergency communications center have dedicated space for the Goochland Amateur Radio Team. Ned knew that when the fan turns brown,  ham radio operators save the bacon.
Ned took great pride in his Goochland Volunteer Fire-Rescue life member status of Courthouse Company 5

Goochland County government has changed so much since Ned first took office that it is difficult to remember the bad old days.

Ned ran for office because he believed that Goochland was a jewel and could be the best jurisdiction in the Commonwealth if only local government served the people, instead of the other way around. He was  appalled at the way citizens were treated when they interacted with the county.

When he first took office, Ned was the odd man out on a Board of Supervisors that had been running things a certain way for years. He demanded accountability for uncashed checks discovered in the drawers of the utility department and insisted  that “as built”  diagrams of the locations of the pipes in the Tuckahoe Creek Service District be made.

Honesty and common sense coupled with hard work and a determination to do the right thing were among Ned’s prized values. He contended that “if you always tell the truth, you don’t have to remember what you said.”

Ned never understood why the county seemed unable to do things right the first time and lurched from crisis to crisis instead of planning for the future. He voted to approve the 25 year capital improvement plan, a long term spending plan for Goochland County at one of his last meetings as a supervisor. 

After four years of being a lonely voice in the wilderness, voters gave Ned the support he needed to transform county government in 2011 when the other four supervisors and entire school board were replaced by new faces.
The new board worked as a team, each bringing differing gifts and backgrounds to the task of solving the county’s problems. An unprecedented era of collaboration between the supervisors and the school board replaced decades of contention for the benefit of all.

When he announced his intention to run for reelection in 2011, Ned  disclosed that he had been diagnosed with cancer. He did not let illness keep him down, and in recent months,  participated in Board meetings electronically from a hospital bed.

In spite of daunting circumstances, including embezzlement of public funds by a former county treasurer and severe decline in county revenues due to the economic downturn, Goochland earned a AAA bond rating in 2015, virtually unheard of  for a county of our size. The accolades and accomplishments of county government since 2012 are too numerous to mention here.

Ned had faith in the intelligence of Goochland citizens and believed that government should operate in the open. “Sunlight is the greatest disinfectant,” he would often say to ensure that county matters were discussed in public forums instead of behind closed doors whenever possible. He was an early advocate for putting the county—and later the school—checkbook and credit card statements online for all to see, and question.

Ned leaves behind a Goochland County that is far, far better than it has ever been and a moral obligation for those who follow to build on those improvements.

Goochland owes thanks to Ned for his service and to the entire Creasey family for sharing him with us.

Rest in peace Ned in the eternal sunshine of a job well done.

(Visitation - Thursday March 15 2:00-4:00 and 6:00-8:00 at Salem Baptist Church, 1701 Cardwell Rd, Crozier
Funeral Service - Saturday, March 17 10:00 at Goochland High School followed by procession to Greenwood Cemetery.)

Friday, March 9, 2018

Eagles hatch anew

It was most fitting that a ribbon cutting to mark the opening of the first parts of the renovation of Central High School into the Central High School Museum and Cultural Arts Center happed on an almost spring day.
Central High School 

A good sized group of people, many “seasoned citizens” who are alumni of Central High ignored rain mixed with hail to walk the corridors of their memory.

The building, surplus property after the school year ended in May, 2007, sat empty and neglected for far too long. Mold and vermin took over the hallways and classrooms and vandals had their way.

While first campaigning for office in 2011,  constituents told District 2 Supervisor Manuel Alvarez, Jr. that they would like to see Central High School saved and put to good use. He recalled being puzzled at the request, because it seemed to be a symbol of discrimination and segregation.

The late Patricia Keel, one of many community members who worked to save Central High, explained to him that Central High represented a victory. It was the first time a school for African American children in Goochland had been built with tax dollars. It provided local educational opportunities that helped its graduates move on to successful and productive lives.
Yearbook photos show students engaged in learning activities

Alvarez, and former County Administrator Rebecca Dickson began a community dialogue about the future of the venerable building, which was constructed in 1938 and added onto over the years. Options ranged from tearing the whole thing down, to total renovation. The county had set aside $500 thousand for the project. The question” if it costs that much to tear it down, what can we do to fix it with that money?” was asked, and creative juices began to flow.

A committee of engaged citizens was formed to craft a plan for the next life of Central High. Committee members are: Gloria Turner Chair; Sekou Shabaka Vice chair; Keisha Carroll; Bonnie Creasy; Rebecca Dickson; Sally Graham; Peter Gretz; William Henson; Calvin Hopkins; Theresa Howell; Kimberly Jefferson; Ruth Johnson; James Lane; Jennifer Layton; Debra MacKay; Virginia Robinson; and Derek Stamey. As the county was strapped for cash due to the economic downturn, things proceeded slowly.

Renovating the gym, the first step, to ease a shortage of recreation space breathed new life into the abandoned site. In 2016, the county’s Department of Community Development operated out of the main section of Central High while its space in the administration building was reconfigured.

The ultimate goal is to create a place that is not only a museum to the past, but a place for community ventures from preschool to senior citizen activities. Parks and rec expect to offer programs there. The business plan created by the committee expects fees generated y programs and space rental to make Central High self-sustaining.

In addition to the gym, a warming kitchen can accommodate catered events. The centerpiece of the ribbon cutting was the auditorium, a comfortable well-lit flexible space.

Derek Stamey, Deputy County Administrator for Operations, said that the project came in on time and under budget. He said that the contractors who transformed plans into reality made the project a labor of love. They put finishing touches on the  project during the power outrages of the previous weekend.

Contractor Leigh Gordon, took great pride in the auditorium mill work. The simple, yet elegant classic trim on the windows and around the stage signals that it is a very special place. A stylized eagle, the mascot of Central High, keeps a watchful eye on the proceedings from the rear wall.
The classical trim in the auditorium adds an elegant touch to this important space.

Gloria Turner declared that “God is above everything. Prayer and faith helped us to accomplish this as a place where all people can come together. Central High School will always stand.”

Goochland County Administrator John Budesky welcomed the assemblage “back to your Central High School.” He said it is remarkable what happens when the community comes together to make things happen.

Sekou Shabaka, Committee Vice Chair, regretted that Becky Dickson was not at the event. He envisions Central High becoming a hub of community activity in the near future.

Classrooms have been transformed into recreation spaces. An interactive screen in the hallway provides a means to browse electronic scans of Central High year books. An open house is planned for April.

May the next generation of eagles hatched at Central High rise out of the dark days of the past into the bright light of the future.
The eagle is watching!

Sunday, March 4, 2018

On goodness

The rural character that everyone wants to preserve is more attitudinal than physical, and has little to do with cows and horses tastefully deployed on open space.  Self-reliance, neighborliness, and pitching in to help out define a community.

On February 27,Goochland lost a man, Garland N. “Pete” Gregory, Sr., longtime resident of Hickory Haven in Centerville, who personified rural character.

Pete lived according to the Ten Commandments, Golden Rule, common sense, with  a bit of mischief thrown in for good measure. He loved his family, neighbors, Centerville Volunteer Fire-Rescue Company 3, and St. Matthew’s United Methodist Church. He derived great joy from everything he did.

After moving to Goochland with Joyce, his wife of 63 years, in 1966, Pete soon joined Centerville Volunteer—then fire only—Company 3. Last fall, he was sworn in as an honorary chief of the department to commemorate more than 50 years of extraordinary service to fire-rescue and the community.

Family was Pete’s priority.  His moral compass was locked on true north. He lovingly set clear rules and boundaries for his kids and grandchildren that guided them well along life’s path.

He took great interest in his neighbors and was fondly known as “the mayor of Hickory Haven.” Pete helped out whenever and however he could from fixing  things to keeping an eye out for the safety of older people living alone.

A service to honor Pete’s memory filled St. Matthew’s on March 3. Old Glory flew from the ladder truck of Goochland Fire-Rescue, which joined Company 3 apparatus “staging” outside to honor him.
Goochland's ladder truck displays flag outside of St. Matthew's.

L. Franklin Wise, Jr. the last volunteer Chief of Goochland-Fire-Rescue, who joined Company 3 with Pete, shared memories of his old friend. Wise painted a picture of an organization that was a second family to its members, who united to serve the community they lived in and loved. They worked hard, performed a vital service, and had fun in the process.

Back then, the volunteers bought and maintained their own equipment. Pete used his mechanical ability and creativity to craft work-arounds to keep apparatus on the road, or rebuild pumps when they lacked to resources to have them fixed professionally. They sometimes combined mechanical aptitude with ingenuity to keep engines with faulty radiators from overheating on the way to fires.

Pete loved showing off Centerville fire trucks in parades and would often spend weeks polishing, painting, and preparing them to compete. The gracious plenty of trophies at the Company 3 station attest to his efforts.

Pete was a volunteer firefighter; a founder of the Centerville rescue squad; president of the Goochland Volunteer Fire-Rescue Association Board; and guiding star for Company 3. He participated in several station renovations and built bunkbeds for Centerville and other stations.

A  granddaughter recalled that one of  his favorite tasks was cooking for Company 3’s annual Santa breakfast on the first Saturday of December, which also became a Gregory family ritual.

Cooking for the annual Company 3 Santa breakfast was an annual ritual for Pete Gregory

As the congregation recited the 23rd Psalm, its words “…the valley of the shadow of death…” seemed to reference the workplace of firefighters. Current Goochland Fire-Rescue members in dress uniform lined the walls during the service, paying homage to a colleague, friend and role model.

D. E. “Eddie” Ferguson, Jr., Deputy Chief EMS for Goochland Fire-Rescue read The Firefighter’s Prayer:

When I am called to duty, God,
wherever flames may rage,
give me strength to save a life,
whatever be its age.
Help me embrace a little child
before it is too late,
or save an older person from
the horror of that fate.
Enable me to be alert,
and hear the weakest shout,
quickly and efficiently
to put the fire out.
I want to fill my calling,
to give the best in me,
to guard my friend and neighbor,
and protect his property.
And if according to Your will
I must answer death's call,
bless with your protecting hand,
my family one and all.

Current Goochland Fire-Rescue Chief Bill MacKay conducted the “tolling of the bells” ceremony used by the fire service to mark the passing of a firefighter.

Rest in peace Pete, may you dance with the angels forever.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

In the weeds

And so it begins. On February 20, Goochland County Administrator John Budesky presented his recommended $89.4 million budget for fiscal year 2019, which begins on July 1, to the Board of Supervisors. This represents an increase of 11.3 percent over the current year’s budget. (The document may be viewed at:  http://goochlandva.us/ArchiveCenter/ViewFile/Item/1153  Recordings of these sessions, February 20 and 27, are available under the “on demand meeting” tab on the county website goochlandva.us.)

The county budget process is a continual activity. Each annual budget includes a “look ahead” to the next year to limit surprises. Budesky commended county staff, schools, and constitutional officers for their hard work and collaborative spirit in managing public funds and commitment to transparency.

Budesky’s budget is based on retention of the 53 cent per $100 of valuation real estate tax rate, in place for more than a decade. As the economy improved, and with it the fortunes of the county, the flat tax rate may result in higher tax bills for those who property values have increased.

Even with increased revenues, Budesky said there was not enough to fully fund every submitted item. He was careful to point out that the departmental requests were needs based and not padded wish lists.

When this board took office in 2012 it declared that funding core services—law enforcement; fire-rescue; schools; and social services—would be its priority. The Board sharpened its pencils and kept everything going.

Budesky said that after many lean years, spending in some places, can no longer be postponed. The countywide financial software, for instance, which is nearly 30 years old, has far outlived its useful life.

Growth is pressuring every local government function. New residents tend to come from places with higher levels of service and they expect to find the same here. People do not understand that services provide by local government are not funded by fairy dust. County employees have bills to pay and dreams of retirement like everyone else and deserve adequate compensation. Tax dollars only go so far.

Details of the FY’19 budget paint a clear picture of the wide variety of county functions and their cost.

Sheriff James Agnew requested five new deputies for each of the next two years in addition to this year’s three recommend dispatcher positions. (Budesky’s budget recommends no new deputy slots.) He said that five people are needed to put one additional patrol deputy “on the street” for all 168 hours in a week. Failing that he asked for additional overtime pay instead of the “comp time” used for extra hours.

Agnew explained that demands for the many functions of the Sheriff’s office, from transporting people with mental health emergencies and staying with them until they are admitted to an appropriate care facility, to issuing eviction notices to apartment dwellers, are increasing and will continue to do so. Burgeoning traffic in the county’s east end, which brings more accidents and DUI arrests, further exacerbates the situation.

The Sheriff also reported that filling vacancies is difficult because the pool of acceptable candidates is shrinking. Fewer young people, he said, are drawn to law enforcement  because of the relatively low pay, irregular hours, and potential for danger. The negative picture of law enforcement painted by the media is also a deterrent.

Fire-rescue Chief Bill MacKay echoed Agnew’s concerns about growing demand for service. His department is also grappling with a dramatic falloff in volunteer participation. MacKay said that 70 percent of fire-rescue volunteers in the east end of the county live outside the Goochland and do not have the community buy-in of volunteers of yore.

Retention for both law enforcement and fire-rescue is a challenge due to not only salary levels, but a dearth of opportunities for advancement in small departments like Goochland.

Director of Human Resources Kelly Parrish said on February 27,  that more than 50 percent of the Goochland General Fund budget is consumed by salary and benefits. She said that there are 118 full time and 25 part time county employees. Constitutional Offices employ 75 full and 10 part time employees. During calendar year 2017, 21 employees left county employ and seven departed from Constitutional Office staffs for a combined turnover rate of  12.3 percent, down a bit from the previous year. Reasons for leaving included retirement, other employment, and involuntary separation. Parrish said that her turnover goal rare is under ten percent.

Board Chair Ken Peterson, District 5, asked for a breakdown of the growth of local government, absent increases in fire-rescue providers, to gauge if county staff is growing appropriately in relation to population increase.

A proposed two percent across the board salary increase  is in line with neighboring jurisdictions, except for Henrico, which is offering a 2.5 percent bump.

Staffing requests for the FY 2019 budget included 23 fulltime positions, 14 are recommended, including no deputies or convenience center attendants. The cost of 10 new full time positions, and conversion of four part time to full time; merit increase and benchmark salary adjustments is  $1,126,001.

While the largest source of county revenue is real estate taxes, there is other income. Local sales tax for FY ’19 is budgeted at $2.9 million; personal property taxes not quite $13 million; and building permits $1 million.

The capital improvement plan (CIP) (discussed at length in other posts) will require some hefty borrowing on the county’s part in the not too distant future. While each annual budget tucks money away for capital projects, it is not enough to fully fund them. By FY 2023, the county expects to borrow approximately $53 million to fund a new courthouse, elementary school, fire-rescue station, and improvements to the high school. Service on the debt incurred is projected to be within borrowing threshold policies established by this board. IN FY 2024, the debt service is projected to be eight percent of general government expenses, well below the 12 percent limit. These numbers assume a 1.8 percent annual increase in taxable assessed values through 2032.

 Todd Kilduff, Assistant County Administrator for Utilities and Community Development  said that increases in water and sewer rates are necessary to ensure that the county is able to maintain infrastructure and meets its financial obligations to Henrico County, the City of Richmond, and the Virginia Department of Corrections.

There are, according to Kilduff, 140 miles of pipe in the ground in Goochland. Water and sewer lines have a general useful life of 50 years. To ensure continuity of service with minimal disruption, an R and R (repair and replacement) policy has been created.  It will be funded by a portion of utility rates.

The Henrico based civil engineering firm of Draper Aden was retained by the county to prepare a rate study. Kilduff said that the study suggests that bi-monthly rate increases of  fiver percent for water and six percent for sewer, which translates to a $5.20 per month increase for 4,000 gallons. Kilduff contended that the rate increases are needed to cover operating costs as well as the R and R initiative and prevent large one time increases to pay for emergency mends.

The ad valorem tax for land in the Tuckahoe Creek Service District is expected to remain constant at  32 cents per $100 of assessed valuation.

Public hearings on the proposed budget, tax and utility rates will be held on April 3. Rates and the budget will be voted on at an April 17 meeting of the  Board of Supervisors.

In addition to comments and discussion at the upcoming Town Hall meetings, Budesky and the supervisor welcome all citizen comment on the budget. They are spending your money. Please pay attention.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Toward the end of winter

Spring is just around the corner and with it, April adoption of the Goochland County budget for fiscal year 2019, which begins on July 1. The budget process, is an ongoing, never ending activity.

The Board of Supervisors received a report from County Assessor Mary Ann Davis at its February 6 meeting. The total value of property in Goochland County as of January 1, 2018 was $4.85 billion. This represents a 4.4 percent increase over last year, and finally exceeded the all-time high 2009 assessment of $4.72 billion, the last before property values took a nosedive during the recession.

Of the increase, three percent represents increased valuations over last year, the remaining 1.4 percent new construction. Fair market value for the TCSD rose 4.4 percent to $1 billion. Land use assessments rose 1.4 percent to $579 million. The supervisors support retention of land use taxation, computed per acre using a state supplied rate, to preserve the rural character of the county. Deferred revenue attributable to land use taxation is $3 million. The breakdown between residential and commercial use is 80.4 percent to 19.6 percent.

Goochland County Administrator John Budesky will present his recommend budget for FY 2019 to the supervisors in a public 3 p.m. meeting on February 20.  

Spring Town Hall meetings by District are scheduled for March. ( Districts 4 and 5 March 7 at Hermitage Country Club. District 1 at the Fife Fire-Rescue Station on March 20. Districts 2 and 3 March 28 at Central High School.  All sessions begin at 7 p.m.)

At these meetings, the proposed budget will be discussed along with items of interest both county and district-wide. Budesky said that he and the supervisors welcome feedback on the budget and any subject. Letters, calls, and other citizen input about the budget are welcome and have an impact on final decisions, he said.

Citizen engagement is a vital part of good government. The county does a good  job of making information available for citizen inspection on the county website, http://goochlandva.us/. Without citizen input, this effort at transparency is like the sound of one hand clapping. They’re spending your money on your community, pay attention.

A ribbon cutting ceremony for the renovations at Central High School and Cultural Center  on Dogtown Road will be held on March 6 at 1:30, all are welcome to attend.

Fire-Rescue Chief Bill MacKay reported that calls for service continue to rise. Cost recovery revenue—fees collected from insurance for emergency hospital transport—tended to increase between 15 and 20 percent per month in FY 2018 adjustments.

MacKay said that Goochland Fire-Rescue now has specialized training devices to address the issue of massive hemorrhaging in Active Shooter scenarios. May God grant that our first responders never need to use this skill.

In April, Goochland Fire-Rescue will again host  a “Survivor Day” event at Manakin Company 1. This event makes citizens more resilient in the face of emergency.  A citizens’ fire-rescue academy is also in the works with the hopes of  attracting new volunteers.

MacKay said that, of the new career positions accelerated to January 1 from July 1, one remains unfilled.

A report of planning activity for 2017 revealed that an application to increase the  number of homes in the Hunt Club Hill subdivision on Three Chopt Road was withdrawn.

An item to set a public hearing for the purpose of the proposed sale of 3.61 acres of the Fairgrounds Property at the corner of Fairground and Sandy Hook Roads to Chase Development Corp, which owns the Courthouse Commons Shopping Center, was withdrawn from the agenda without explanation. The price mentioned was $850,000, the fair market value of the entire parcel as of January 1, 2017. Chase Development, according to the agenda item, planned retail uses for the parcel, which has been declared surplus by the county. (See pages 66 through 68 of the February 6 packet.)

Director of Economic Development Matt Ryan reported that  capital investment in Goochland reached $120 million in 2017. New projects included The Bristol Apartments in West Creek; expansion of the Lickinghole Creek Craft Brewery; new Hardywood Park Brewery in West Creek; Drive Shack, expected to open in 2018; and Richmond Audi nearing completion on Broad Street Road. There were 131 commercial permits issued in 2017, an all-time high.

Budesky presented an overview of activity in the current General Assembly session, which concludes on March 10. He reported that Del. John McGuire brokered a non-legislative resolution to place The Goochland Drive-In on attraction signs on Interstate 64.

Susan Lascolette, District 1, commended Administrative Services Manager Paul Drumwright, who keeps a close eye on the GA, for his “super job” following legislation. Drumwright was unable to attend the Broad meeting because he and Assistant County Attorney Whitney Marshall were in Richmond at the General Assembly keeping an even closer eye on the county’s delegation.

Carter Duke will replace Derek Murray as the District 3 planning commissioner. All other planning commissioners were reappointed. Murray served the county well for the maximum number of terms permitted.

There will be a number of Board  meetings in the next two months. These will address budget issues and are expected to include final disposition of several residential rezoning applications that were deferred until the capital impact model and revised 2035 comprehensive land use plan were adopted.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Numbers game

Following months of hard work by every department of Goochland government, the long-awaited capital impact model CIM) crafted by outside consulting firm Tischler Bise, was adopted by the Board of Supervisors to justify a new cash proffer policy, also adopted, on February 6.

During its 2016 session, the Virginia General Assembly passed legislation intending to limit cash proffers to mitigate only the capital impacts specifically attributable to a particular project. The unintended consequences, however, resulted in a de facto freeze on residential rezoning applications statewide.

In the past few months, Goochland’s supervisors deferred action on four residential rezoning applications until the revised proffer policy and supporting data was in place. This document provides a mechanism to make capital cost impact determinations per project or unit.

Capital items include buildings; expensive equipment like fire-recue apparatus; and parks. Not all capital projects are proffer eligible. For instance, the courthouse and library included in the 25 year capital improvement plan, cannot be funded with proffer dollars.

Even though demand for law enforcement services, provided in the county by the Goochland Sheriff’s Office, are expected to increase, no additional capital facility capacity beyond emergency communications is anticipated, so there is no law enforcement component. In contrast, new fire-rescue stations will be built and equipped, so there is a fire-rescue component. Capital costs are also shown for non-residential uses, which are not subject to cash proffers.

Thresholds of growth that trigger the need for increased capacity in public facilities underlie the calculations. For instance, the number of students generated by a particular subdivision could trigger a need for additional school space.

Based on the recently completed 25 year CIP, some categories are not included. For instance, the animal shelter under construction is deemed to meet the needs of the county for 25 years, and is not included. Costs are based on current numbers and should be updated over time.

County Attorney Tara McGee reminded the supervisors that revenue generated by cash proffers under the old policy never met all of the costs of development. She also said that the policy deals with facility capacity and anything not connected to construction is not included in the current law.

The CIM divides the county into three districts, roughly equivalent to the elementary school attendance zones. The western zone is approximately District 1; the central Districts 2 and 3; and the eastern districts 4 and five.

County population, according to the study, is expected to rise by 8,099 to 30,807 in the next decade and add 565 students to the school system.  It should be noted that even if homes do generate school aged children, there is no guarantee that they will attend public school. Most of this growth is expected in the eastern district.

The CIM report, which is more than 100 pages, includes a lot of data. Summaries for proffer eligible costs by district are interesting. The lowest numbers are in the eastern district, the highest in the central and western between the two.

By right development, which requires no rezoning, is not subject to proffers, nor are single lot rezonings.

Louise Thompson, a local realtor and developer, questioned the methodology of the CIM with respect to the number of students generated by the Breeze Hill and Lane’s End subdivisions.  The CIM into placed those communities into the central school attendance zone even though students who live there go to Randolph. She also contended that the actual number of students generated is far lower than indicated by the CIM and some who already live there attend private schools.

Julie Herlands of TischlerBise contended that, over their lifespan, the homes in question will generate students and moving the homes from one zone to another will make little difference in the overall results. The CIM is based on the recently adopted CIP, which looks forward 25 years.

Herlands commended the county for looking forward in combining a facilities plan, and long term CIP with a tool to address capital impacts of development.

Thompson also contended that high dollar proffers just increase home prices—builders pass the proffer costs along—and make it harder for people of modest means to live in Goochland.

It remains to be seen if developers will “voluntarily” pay these new amounts and if the supervisors will decline to approve rezoning applications without them. In the meantime, the General Assembly is “passing by”  a number of proffer bills this session to be discussed at a “proffer party” sometime next summer. It is hoped that legislation acceptable to both developers and local government  can be crafted at that time.

Board Chair Ken Peterson, District 5 observed that all of the data included in the CIM is interesting and useful but it seems to be only part of the puzzle. The expense of the people who provide government services for the new residents, equipment, and maintenance is not addressed.

Fire-rescue Chief Bill MacKay mentions often the difficulty of finding, hiring, and retaining career providers to compensate for the decline in volunteer participation. Sheriff James Agnew has commented on the dearth of qualified candidates for deputy slots as fewer people choose law enforcement careers. Goochland public safety jobs pay less and offer fewer opportunities for advancement than larger departments,  but we still need enough good people to keep the peace, save lives, and protect property. A closer look at these needs should be part of development decisions.

McGee contended that the new policy is reasonable and defensible under the current law. Applicants still have the option of preparing their own development impact statement, or use the county’s model, if they determine it to be reasonable. Staff can use the CIM to evaluate the applications in a meaningful way.

The TischlerBise report is included in the board packet for February 6, on the county website goochlandva.us. The stream of the presentation is included in the February 6 “meetings on demand” at about the 1:30 mark. Both are worthy of your perusal to understand how new residential growth will be evaluated.

This leaves enough questions to be a cliffhanger on a soap opera. Will developers accept higher proffers? Will the supervisors reject the rezoning applications if they don’t? Will tax rates increase to cover the cost of expanded services? Stay tuned for the next thrilling episode!

Saturday, February 3, 2018

In case there was any doubt

The new sign at the organization formerly known as Goochland Free Clinic and Family Services says it all

The organization, beloved in Goochland County, formerly known by the jaw breaking moniker of Goochland Free Clinic and Family Services is now known as “Goochland Cares”.

Announced during an unveiling of a sign on its wonderful new headquarters just off of River Road West in Courthouse Village, the new name is a pleasant change for those involved in the 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization. (See goochlandcares.org for complete information.)

 “I answer the phone and had to write the name down so I could say it correctly,” a volunteer said. “This is much better.”

Goochland Cares is the latest incarnation of community benevolence that began with Goochland Fellowship and Family Services in 1952. In 1998, the Goochland Free Clinic was founded by a group of parishioners from Saint Mary’s Episcopal Church. Both sought to help those in need who did not qualify for other assistance programs. In 2007, the organizations merged to avoid duplication of effort and provide a wide range of services in a cost effective manner.

The new twenty thousand square foot building brings all services offered by Goochland Cares, which had been scattered in several sites around Courthouse Village, together under one roof.  Over the years, services expanded to meet needs, including the Clothes Closet, food pantry, medical and dental clinics, emergency home repairs, and most recently, help for victims of domestic and sexual violence.

Staff and volunteers give freely of their time, talents, and treasure to make the mission of Goochland Cares: “access to healthcare and basic human services to Goochland County residents in need of assistance”  become reality.  The ultimate goal is to help all Goochland residents thrive, physically, emotionally, and socially, to create a vibrant community.

Goochlanders and others came together beginning in 2016 to support an ambitious capital campaign, All.Here.Now that raised $7.1 million to cover construction costs and provide a $1.5 million endowment to ensure sustainability.

Development Director Adair Roper praised Hourigan Construction, which transformed the new building from a drawing to reality in approximately eight months. “I cannot say enough good things about them. They were on every issue and got things done right the first time.”

Sally Graham Executive Director welcomed visitors to Goochland Cares’ new home with a broad grin. She looked like she wanted to pinch herself to make sure she wasn’t dreaming.

A mural in the lobby of the new building is a landscape, presumably of Goochland, sprinkled with stars emblazoned with the names of major donors. This is homage to the designation as one of a “thousand points of light” organization recognized for service to fellow citizens.

May those stars grow in number and twinkle brightly forever.