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, 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 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 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.

Monday, January 15, 2018

From the Halls of Montezuma to the halls of Goochland High!

Goochland Bulldogs need to come to the aid of our Marine Junior ROTC Bulldogs.

Since its inception a few years ago, the Marine Junior ROTC (MJROTC) program at Goochland High School has been a rousing success. The program met and exceeded establishment requirements in its first year, quite a feat for a small high school.       

Established in 2014 under the National Defense Cadet Corps (NDCC)authority, it was understood that if the Goochland program met certain criteria, it would become a fully-funded JROTC program. Goochland met, and exceeded those benchmarks, which included maintaining an enrollment of more than ten percent of the student body. To date, participation in our program has ranged between 12 and 14 percent.

Lessons learned in this program, in addition to the military stuff, like leadership, teamwork, personal responsibility, and discipline, prepare the cadets to succeed in military service, and will stand them in good stead wherever life’s journey takes them. Leading by example, Goochland MCJROTC cadets have changed the attitude of the entire student body.

In its short existence, the Goochland MCJROTC program, and its ripple effect on the entire student body,  has earned a reputation for excellence among military recruiters who actively pursue not only cadets, and other students.
Goochland MCJROTC color guard in action.

Goochland county enthusiastically supported the program, investing $750,000 in a building and fully funding salaries for its faculty. American Legion Post 215 was instrumental in securing the program for GHS.

In November, 2017, Lt. Col. Kevin Williams and Staff Sergeant Daniel Strong, leader of the MCJROTC,  received notice that the Marine Corps funding for the NDCC has ceased. This loss of funding—the cost of travel, training, equipment, and supplies—will cause an approximately $45,000  shortfall for the Goochland MCJROTC.

Our MJROTC program not only prepares students for military service—qualified volunteers are becoming harder to find—but teaches them leadership, personal responsibility, discipline, and teamwork. These skills will stand them in good stead no matter where life’s journey takes them.

Many MCJROTC cadets are encouraged by instructors to pursue higher education. They also help highly qualified candidates seek scholarships. Since its inception,  95 percent of MCJROTC cadets indicated their intent to continue their education, securing $162,000 in scholarship funds, and 84 academic awards.

In the short time that the Goochland MJROTC has been in existence, it has provided valuable assistance to community organizations, including the Goochland Free Clinic and Family Services, and Goochland Christmas Mother. Its color guard proudly presents the Stars and Stripes, demonstrating  proper respect for our flag.

The rigor of the program is demonstrated by the accolades won by our cadets in various ROTC competitions, especially being recognized as outstanding on its first Marine Corps inspection.

We need to let those who represent us in Washington about the high quality of this program, its importance to the community. To continue financial support that the MCJROTC has gotten from the Marine Corps, our representatives in Washington must take action on our behalf.

There are two ways to do this. The best choice is to change the status of the Goochland program to that of a fully sanctioned junior ROTC program. There are two slots nationwide for this. If that cannot be done, lawmakers need to change the law to restore federal funding under the NDCC model.

Show your support for Goochland’s Marine Corps Bulldogs by contacting Senators Warner and Kaine and Congressman Brat to encourage restoration of full funding for the Goochland High School Marine Corps Cadet program.

Additional information regarding the Goochland High School Marine Cadet Corps program can be found here:

Thursday, January 11, 2018

The devil is in the details

During the public hearing section of  their first meeting of 2018, Goochland County’s supervisors deferred a decision on yet another residential rezoning application—for Swann’s Inn—until March. By then the supervisors expect to adopt a development impact model to help  gauge the true cost of new homes.

They did approve rezoning of  4.45 acres adjacent to Rt. 288 and an accompanying conditional use permit for a  building height of 80 or so feet, both to move the Sheltering Arms rehabilitation hospital in West Creek, roughly opposite the Wawa, to move forward.

The long meeting finished with adoption of the 25 year capital improvement plan (CIP), which was crafted as part of the capital impact model.

Since its creation decades ago, West Creek, a 3,500 acre enclave on Goochland’s eastern border, was touted as an economic engine whose revenues would fund local government and preserve “rural character” everywhere else.

Even after creation of the Tuckahoe Creek Service District, which brought water and sewer to much of West Creek and bisection by state route 288, West Creek still resembles a nature preserve  more than an economic engine.

Things have picked up there in recent years with new projects including medical office building, the hospital, apartments, and, of all things, the magnificent new campus of the Hardywood Park Craft Brewery. Though not the corporate headquarters originally envisioned for West Creek, these bring jobs, increase property values, which in turn boost real estate taxes, and add users to the TCSD.

As western Henrico runs out of raw land, the push for development is sloshing into Goochland. Mixed-use zoning was recently approved for the old Oak Hill property on Route 6.

Rezoning applications for two residential communities in the Hockett Road corridor, one in West Creek, the other at the edge of the Centerville Village, to bring more than 800 homes, caused the supervisors to tap the development brakes. Before increasing by ten percent  the number of  homes in the county, the supervisors want to better understand how this dramatic increase in population will affect the cost of delivering government services.

The planning commission recommended approval of an expanded capital facilities plan at its January 4 meeting. This will replace chapter 6 in the 2035  Comprehensive Land Use Plan. It is also a component of the capital impact model. (See the packet for the January 4 planning commission meeting for details.)

This deep dive into county infrastructure was a prudent move by the supervisors.

The results dispelled some conventional wisdom. For instance, the notion that the county would build a new elementary school somewhere in the eastern end of the county, may not come to pass. The school board recommends, going forward 25 years, that the county stick with three elementary schools with larger capacities. A new Randolph will be built at some point. The site has not been determined and it could pretty much stay where it is.

Another assumption, that the next new county built fire-rescue station be located in West Creek, may also be flawed. There is no fire-rescue station in District 2, which is also experiencing a residential growth spurt. This increases homeowner’s insurance premiums and potential for  loss of life and property.

Goochland Fire-Rescue Chief Bill MacKay, during a December 11 workshop on the 25 year CIP,  said that Manakin Company 1 and Centerville Company 3 could provide fire-rescue coverage to the east end if they were adequately staffed. He also pointed out that it can take up to 25 minutes for fire apparatus to reach remote parts of District 2 from exisiting stations.

Funding assumptions in the 25 year CIP  are based on retention of the 53 cent per hundred dollars of assessed valuation tax rate. This rate has been in place for at least a decade. Some residents argue that the tax rate should rise, others believe the rate is too high.

Economic development has picked up in the past few years. However, thanks to the TCSD debt, the county must attract a lot of new business every year to stay even. Although real estate tax revenues grow each year due to new construction and appreciation, it remains to be seen if proposed residential enclaves can pay for themselves.

The supervisors will need to decide, no matter what, which capital projects—and the list is long—take precedence. They may also need  “to have a conversation with the community” about floating a bond issue, and incur additional debt, to fund these items sooner rather than later.

In 2014, the supervisors adopted a four year strategic plan (see under supervisor’s tab),  which includes a goal of “balanced development that contributes to the welfare of the community and preserves its rural character.”

Finding the sweet spot between development pressures in the east and the welfare of the entire county is a delicate task. Growth is like fire—controlled it provides heat and energy, unchecked, it devours everything in its path. 

The next few months will be interesting indeed.

Monday, January 8, 2018

The start of 2018

Goochland’s supervisors rang in 2018 with punch and cake before their January 3 meeting to celebrate being named the most tax friendly county in the nation for 2017 by the American City County Exchange.  The award, totally unsolicited, according to Supervisor Ken Peterson, District 5, recognizes Goochland for… “outstanding performance on spending, taxes, and transparency”.

Goochland has yet another award for excellence in governing .

“Goochland County is  a national leader in taxpayer friendly policies,” said Jon Russell, National Director of ACCE and a Culpeper Town Councilman in an ACCE press release. “Other counties need to look at their model of governance and replicate their success.” Visit for more information about this organization.

Electing  board leadership for calendar year 2018 was the first item on the Board’s afternoon agenda. Peterson was elected chair and Manuel Alvarez, Jr., District 2, vice chair. Outgoing chair Ned Creasey, District 3, thanked fellow board members for their support and county staff for its dedication to serving the citizens while implementing board policies. It is board policy to rotate leadership each year.

Ken Peterson, District 5, (l) will be 2018 Board Chair; Manuel Alvarez, Jr., District 2, Vice Chair.

Peterson thanked Creasey for being the catalyst of the good things that have happened in Goochland since he was first elected in 2007.  He commended Creasey on completing a second term as board chair and for setting high standards for those in local government.

 “Ned is a plain spoken man of few words who has served in the uniform of his country; as a police officer; and as a long time Goochland Fire-Rescue volunteer. He has been a great friend and mentor to all of us,” said Peterson.

Following elections, the supervisors adopted their code of ethics and operating procedures. (These are available on the county website Adopting a code of ethics that lists, in detail, expected behavior of elected officials to earn  public trust in performance of their duties sets a clear standard for moral behavior. It was first adopted on March 1, 2001.

County Administrator John Budesky said that the county budget season is in full swing. He thanked everyone who worked hard  last year to compile the 25 year capital improvement plan that identifies priorities going forward. Between now and adoption of the county budget for fiscal year 2019 in April, there will be ample opportunity for citizens to weigh in on county finances with several public hearings and a spring round of town hall meetings. Citizen feedback on money matters, said Budesky, is extremely important. In addition to public forums, county administration and the supervisors may be contacted by phone or electronic means.

The afternoon session addressed a number of items in an expeditious manner.

A  resolution denying a damage claim on the recommendation of the county attorney was unanimously adopted.

Perhaps the most interesting item on the agenda was an unsolicited proposal by a private company to expand broadband in Goochland.

Since taking office in 2012 this board, especially Alvarez, has sought ways to expand high speed internet access. Western Goochland and areas throughout the county have no access to broadband and, in some places, difficulty obtaining adequate cell phone signals. The supervisors do not believe the county should be in the internet business.  They prefer to create an environment attractive to private sector providers more able to react quickly to technological advances than a governmentally regulated utility.    

The proposal, submitted by SCS Broadband Acelanet,LLC, is for a public-private partnership to provide high-speed internet in the county. The supervisors authorized staff to review the proposal and report back to them.

Budesky said that he is pleased about this development, but cautioned that it has not yet been fully vetted to ensure that it is in the best interest of the citizens.  “This is just the beginning,” said Budesky. “We’re not prepared to talk details at this point. We need to make sure that they (SCA Broadband) can deliver before we get locked into anything.”

The evaluation will take about 90 days; the supervisors will be kept abreast of the process. “This proposal was a long time coming and we want to make sure it is done right,” said Budesky. “As this was not the result of a request for proposals, it is now a public document open to some level of negotiation.” The county, said Budesky wants to remain as transparent as possible so that the citizens are clear on what is being considered. He also hoped that the SCS Broadband overture will attract competitors. Goochland does not have a non-compete arrangement with Comcast or Verizon.

In response to a query from Peterson, Budesky confirmed that the supervisors authorized only an evaluation of the proposal by staff. No commitment, monetary or otherwise, was made.

Peterson reiterated that this proposal is just the beginning. NO DECISIONS HAVE BEEN MADE, and this could turn out not to be the answer to bring broadband to underserved parts of the county. Stay tuned, this is an encouraging development, but it is very early days.

Administrative Services Manager Paul Drumwright presented an update on the county’s 2018 Legislative Agenda—the document that communicates Goochland’s position on proposed legislation before the General Assembly and “wish list” of new laws to benefit the county. The list of proposed laws for 2018, so far, is relatively light. Drumwright attributed this to the November defeat of  many incumbents. Indeed, this year it seems likely that little will be accomplished at the General Assembly as both parties battle for control, rather than serve the citizens who elected them.

Only a few of the county’s priority requests have been addressed in pending legislation. These include: a change on composition of the economic development authority; determination of public facility capacity; expansion of broadband through the Virginia Telecommunications initiative; and elimination of the requirement for schools to open after Labor Day. Additional bills are expected to be filed in the near future.

The General Assembly convenes on January 10. Goochland’s representation in the GA consists of Delegates Lee Ware, 65th District; newly elected John McGuire, 56th District, and Senator Mark Peake, 22nd District.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Looking ahead for 25 years

Since taking office in 2012, Goochland County’s current board of supervisors refused to accept govern by status quo. From restructuring the massive Tuckahoe Creek Service District debt to securing a AAA bond rating, these supervisors take their responsibility as stewards of public funds very seriously.

Changes in cash proffer laws in 2016, coupled with a dramatic rise in residential rezoning applications brought the potential for new fiscal stress to the top of the supervisors’ worry list. As they considered a drop off in cash proffers—monetary mitigation for the capital expense caused by growth—the supervisors realized they need a better estimate of looming expenditures countywide over the next few decades.

The county retained the services of a consultant to gather data and interpret data on the cost of residential growth to better gauge the county’s ability to absorb it. One component of this project is a long range capital improvement plan.

Typically, the county CIP looks five years into the future to prudently plan expenditures for items with a useful life of more than three years and costing at least $50,000. This year, the Board asked for a 25 year CIP.

At a special workshop on December 11, County Administrator John Budesky presented a draft of this document to the supervisors. It was a daunting undertaking  that required a substantial amount of work for every department, especially that of Financial Services, under the direction of Barbara Horlacher. “I would not have done this with any other board,” he said at the start of his remarks.

Projected costs assumed a two percent annual increase in the consumer price index. They did not address possible savings resulting from repurposing existing buildings for other uses. Budesky explained that a sitting board of supervisors cannot obligate a future board to raise taxes to meet the cost of debts it incurs. The numbers included in this CIP, said Budesky, do not reflect a tax increase. However, he opined that, at some point down the road, the Board an citizens may need to have a “discussion” about capital funding in the form of a referendum to allow the county to issue general obligation bonds to fund capital projects.

County Attorney Tara McGee cautioned that, under the new state proffer law, jurisdictions many not use proffer dollars to fund capital projects that are not directly affected by new construction. For instance, proffer money generated by new residential communities in the east end may not be used to pay for a new  fire-rescue station in District 2.

The report is a very detailed, diverse mix of needs and issues. It includes schools, new and improvements; a courthouse; several fully equipped fire-rescue stations; parks; n east end convenience center; and recurring expenses such as replacement of  HVAC systems and roofs. The list is all inclusive. Specific sites for new facilities,  have not yet been identified

The 25 year CIP reiterates that all three of the county’s elementary schools are about 60 years old. Our  existing fire-rescue stations, most built on donated land literally by the volunteers, are not sited to deliver optimal service to citizens.

For instance, District  2 has no fire-rescue station, even though it has experienced significant residential growth since the turn of the century, especially around Sandy Hook. Fire-rescue Chief Bill MacKay contended that it can take 25 minutes for  firefighters from Courthouse Company  5 to reach a blaze at the end of Rock Castle Road, even if there are crews on duty ready to deploy when  dispatched. This increases the cost of homeowner’s insurance and potential for loss of life and property from fire.

A structure fire  last week that destroyed a home in the upscale Meadows subdivision may add urgency to this issue.

The draft 25 year CIP, on which there will be a public hearing at the Board’s January 3, meeting, also includes, in later years, upgrades for firearms and radio systems for the sheriff’s office;  a new east end library; and park improvements.  Please take a look for yourself at  on the right side of the page “proposed CIP budget FY 2019-FY2043.”

A timeline for expenditures is part of the document. This helps the supervisors decide whether items will be funded on a pay go basis, or will require debt financing.

Budesky said that he is confident about the costs in the near term, in the outlying yeas, not so much. Peering far into the future is tricky. Indeed, had a similar task been undertaken 25 in the past, it seems unlikely that funding for information technology would have included cloud servers, software permits, and a hardware replacement cycle.

At the conclusion of the presentation, Supervisor Ken Peterson, District 5, accessed the abacus in his mind when he observed that, to build a new school and fire-rescue station every five years, the county will need to set aside at least $6 million annually, above and beyond all other expenses, for the next 25  years.

During the “great recession” the county slashed spending and delayed recurring replacements to keep its head above water as real estate values—taxes on which are the main source of local government revenue—plummeted. Time is past due for catching up. Doing it all at once sets up the county for a repeat performance of things wearing out at the same time in the future.

For instance, fire-rescue bought six 2,200 gallon tanker trucks about 15 years ago, and six new engines a few years later, all with the same expected useful life. Staggered, planned replacement will ease the cost and lessen the stresses of an entire fleet of aging apparatus. The same is true of most items in the plan.

Planning for upgrades and replacements of HVAC systems; bathrooms; carpet; roofs; software and computers; and vehicles rather than playing  catch up and making expensive, emergency repairs to keep things going beyond their useful lives, saves money in the long run. Figuring out how to pay for everything in  a timely manner is the tricky part.

The supervisors adopted a fiscal policy earlier this year, which says in part:
In the Commonwealth of Virginia, there is no statutory limitation on the amount of debt a County can issue. The County has set its own debt ratio guidelines as part of sound financial management practices. Debt ratios will be annually calculated and included in the review of financial trends.
 The County will comply with the following debt ratio guidelines:
 a) Net debt as a percentage of estimated market value of taxable property should not exceed 2.75%. Net debt is to include general obligation, capital leases, and enterprise fund revenue bonds, including accreted interest.
 b) The ratio of debt service expenditures as a percent of total general fund expenditures (including transfers to other funds) should not exceed 12%. Limiting debt service expenditures in this way provides flexibility for other expenses in the budget.”

Costs and timing of road improvements are included in the 25 year CIP. Unlike other capital items, road projects require the blessing of, and at least some funding from, VDOT. The list of road projects includes: realignment of Hockett Road; four laning Ashland Road to the Hanover line; the Fairground Road extension to Rt.6; a bridge over Rt. 288 to reconnect Three Chopt Road  to Broad Street Road; and the bridge over Tuckahoe Creek to connect Ridgefield Parkway to Rt. 288.

The grand total for the 25 year CIP is $592,176,006. Paying for infrastructure will be a daunting task.