Monday, March 20, 2017

Mark your calendar

Spring 2017 Goochland Town Hall meetings

The latest round of Town Hall meetings in Goochland County begin this week.

Supervisors and School Board members will be present to respond to questions and listen to concerns of citizens on any and all topics. County and school division staff will also be on hand to discuss the proposed county and school budgets for fiscal year 2018, which begins on July 1, and other matters of interest. The meetings begin at 7 p.m.

The schedule is as follows:

Tuesday, March 21, District 2 and 3 at the Central High School Cultural and Educational Center located at 2748 Dogtown Road. Supervisors Manuel Alvarez, Jr., District 2 and Ned Creasey, District 3, and School Board Members Kevin Hazzard District 2 and John Lumpkin, District 3 will be present.

Thursday, March 23, the District 4 and 5 meeting will be held at the Hermitage Country Club. Supervisors Bob Minnick, District 4 and Ken Peterson, District 5 will be joined by School Board Members Beth Hardy District 4 and John Wright, District 5.

Thursday, March 30, the District 1 meeting will be held at the wonderful new Hadensville Company 6 Fire-Rescue Station in Hadensville. (It’s across Rt. 250 from the old station, you can’t miss it.) Susan Lascolette, District 1 Supervisor and Mike Payne, District 1 School Board member will take citizen questions and comments.

The proposed county budget is available on the county website under the budget tab at the left of the homepage. This document contains a lot of interesting and useful information about how the county uses revenue. They’re spending your tax dollars, please take a few minutes to be informed.

Saturday, March 18, 2017


On March 12—about ten o’clock, a loud noise shook Goochland County. It turned out to be another earthquake. According to the USGS, the epicenter of the 2.3 magnitude quake was west of Fairground Road on the south side of Broad Street Road.
Visit for related information supplied by Goochland County.

In other news, Virginia General Assembly Delegate Peter Farrell, who represents the 56th District, which includes the eastern portion of Goochland, announced that he will not seek reelection this November. Farrell began his tenure in the GA when he was selected by the Republican Committee Chairmen of the 56th District to be the Republican candidate in August, 2011. That action happened a couple of hours after the “big one” that shook of Central Virginia, and damaged the Washington Monument.

So far, one democrat and two republicans have thrown their hats into the race for party nominations to succeed Farrell. There will be a primary in June to select candidates for both parties. This will be the second change in Goochland’s delegation to the GA in as many years. In January, Mark Peake of Lynchburg won a special election to succeed Tom Garrett in the 22nd District State senate seat. The District is comprised of Louisa, eastern Goochland and north western Henrico.

The two announced republicans hail from Louisa, which has the highest number of voters in the district. There is speculation that others may enter the race. Initial candidate paperwork must be filed by March 30. It looks like the close working relationship that Goochland, caught between two larger voter bases, has enjoyed with its GA delegation could become just a fond memory.

Both the Goochland Board of Supervisors and Economic Development Authority met in closed session this week to discuss “…a prospective business or industry or the expansion of an existing business or industry where no previous announcement has been made of the business’ or industry’s interest in locating or expanding its facilities in the community, as permitted by Section 2.2-3711 (A)(5) of the Code of Virginia.”

Meetings like this can lead to announcements of projects like the Hardywood Park Craft Brewery complex, currently under construction in West Creek, or nothing. Stay tuned.

The EDA is crafting an update to the economic development strategic plan developed in 2011. Joint workshops with the Board of Supervisors on this topic are expected in the next few months.

An announcement that the proposed rehabilitation hospital planned for The Notch in West Creek cleared the state’s Certificate of Public Need (COPN) hurdle sooner than expected is more good news for Goochland. This will bring another healthcare option closer to county residents and add jobs to the local economy.

Those who worry that the upsurge in economic development threatens the rural nature of Goochland should take heart. The county’s 2035 Comprehensive Land Use Plan expects 85 percent of the county will still be rural. The other 15 percent will not.

Don’t forget about the upcoming closure of Fairground Road next week. See the county webpage for details.

Sunday, March 12, 2017


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Saturday, March 11, 2017

March miscellany

When you turn your clocks ahead one hour this weekend be sure to change the batteries in your smoke alarms and make sure they work.

Also, the annual burn ban, which prohibits outside fires before 4 p.m. until
April 30, is in place. If it is dry and windy, do not burn at all. Remember, the best fire is one that never starts!!

It’s budget season for Goochland County, so the supervisors are holding extra meetings to hear departmental and other presentations. On March 7, they heard some budget presentations and usual business at their regular monthly session.

Robin Lind, secretary of the Goochland Electoral Board reported that, disturbed by a lack of uniformity in reporting vote totals, double checked results of the November 8 general election around the Commonwealth. Lind found that, in fact, Goochland’s 84.80 percent voter turnout put it behind other jurisdictions in voter turnout. We needed 19 more voters per precinct to gain the top spot. Powhatan, said Lind, actually had the highest turnout.

Board Chair Ned Creasey, District 3, announced the upcoming town hall meetings. The meeting for District 2&3 will be held at the Central High School complex on March 21; Districts 4&5 at Hermitage Country Club on March 23; and District 1 at the new Hadensville Company 6 fire-rescue station on March 30. All meeting being at 7 p.m. These meetings will focus on the county budget, but entertain citizen comment on all matters of local interest.

County administrator John Budesky invited all to the ribbon cutting ceremony for the new Company 6 on Sunday, March 26 at 2 p.m.
The budget cycle, said Budesky, will include a public hearing on the county’s proposed spending plan for Fiscal 2018 on April 4 at 7 p.m. The supervisors will vote on adoption of the budget and tax rates for calendar year 2017 at 3 p.m. on April 18. Citizens are encouraged to share their thoughts and concerns on the proposed budget via phone call, email, or in person. Budesky said that all input and engagement on the budget is welcome and appreciated.

County Human Resources Director Kelly Parrish introduced new county employees, including three advanced life support paramedics.

The supervisors authorized two rabies’ clinics. One on April 2 from 2 to 4 p.m. on the corner of Fairground and Sandy Hook Roads in Courthouse Village. The fee is $10 per dog or cat. The second will be on April 29 from nine a.m. until noon at the Fife Company 4 Fire-Rescue station. The fee is $10 per dog or cat.

The supervisors adopted a resolution amending their Rules of Procedure. This change is in response to confusion when more than two supervisors attend meetings other than their own including community meetings for land use changes. The new language in Article 2.2 says that when two or more board members attend community, planning commission, or other meetings concerning public business, they will not consider motions, vote, or take any official action. In compliance with the Virginia Freedom of Information ACT (FOIA), notice of a special meeting will be provided and minutes of the meetings will be maintained.

Our supervisors and planning commissioners are to be commended for their interest in citizen input on local matters, especially land use changes. Some confusion at a recent community meeting prompted the change to ensure that proper disclosure of attendance at these sessions is observed. Visit for details.

Goochland County Treasurer Pamel Cooke Johnson, MGT, presented background on tax collection in the county.

Johnson, who is a Constitutional Officer elected by the citizens said that people who live in Virginia and own property, real or personal, owe taxes each year. In jurisdictions, including Goochland, the governing board sets tax rates, which are applied to valuations to compute tax bills.

Goochland citizens do a pretty good job of paying their taxes. Johnson reported that, for the most recently reported billing cycle, taxes were collected as follows: 99.06 percent for real-estate; 98.91 percent for personal property tax; and 99.01 per cent overall. Assessments are by the calendar year (January to December) collections are by the fiscal year (July 1 to June 30).

Taxes on machinery, tools and business equipment, are billed one time per year, all other taxes are billed twice per year and these bills are due on June and December 5.

Johnson reminded people to contact the Treasurer’s Office if they have not received their tax bills by either Mother’s Day or Thanksgiving to ensure timely payment. If taxpayers move and do not report their change of address to DMV on their license and auto registration, tax bills will be sent to their old address. Failure to receive a bill does not relieve property owners from additional charged that accrue for payment after the due date.

Since taking office in 2011, Johnson has aggressively pursued collection of delinquent taxes. In some cases, where land owners could not be located, Johnson used available legal remedies to sell land, recover tax liability, and get the land back on the tax rolls with new owners. Some of these were twenty years past due.

She has also worked with land owners behind on their tax obligations to set up payment plans with installment arrangements to help them catch up. State law requires that oldest taxes be paid first and new taxes be paid on time and in full. About half of these plans have been successful.

Penalties for delinquent taxes are stiff. The daily 10 percent penalty begins the day after the due date. Interest at the rate of 10 percent begins to accrue the first day of the following month. Bills contain detailed information about payment options. The first half personal property tax bill includes the vehicle license fee. Filing a high mileage form can reduce personal property taxes.

Johnson said that the Treasurer has a variety of state sanctioned methods for collecting delinquent taxes, which are applied as appropriate. Delinquent bills are mailed twice a year. She said that a number of people prepay their taxes.

Johnson encouraged everyone to read all parts of their tax bills and pay their taxes on time. Visit the Treasurer’s website for complete information.

Monday, March 6, 2017

From auto parts to sawmills

After a month hiatus, the Goochland County Planning Commission met on March 2 to address revised applications for land on the north side of Route 6 near its intersection with Route 288, the former location of the now defunct Oak Hill Golf Club and other matters.

The agenda, however, contained other matters.

Up first was a request for a variance in the Broad View Shopping Center in Centerville to accommodate construction of an Advance Auto Parts store on the out parcel fronting on Broad Street Road across Plaza Drive from the Centerville Company 3 fire-rescue station. The Commission unanimously approved a right-of-way reduction from 50 feet to 40 feet between the subject parcel and the Dollar General Store. District 4 Commissioner John Shelhorse expressed disappointment that the new business is not an iconic coffee emporium.

Before taking up the revised applications filed by West Creek, Shelhorse stated that he has an interest in some property just west of Rt. 288. Last fall, former County Attorney Norman Sales opined that this represents no conflict of interest to prevent Shelhorse from participating in discussion and voting on the cases.

After a lengthy, and often confusing, public hearing at the January Planning Commission meeting Thomas E. “Tommy” Pruitt managing partner of West Creek requested a 60 day deferral, which was granted.

The revised, simplified West Creek applications presented on March 2 included: rezoning of two small parcels of land, totaling approximately 7.66 acres, at the edges of the southwest corner of West Creek from A-2 to M-1 so that they can be incorporated into West Creek; deletion of a West Creek proffer prohibiting retail uses within 1,000 feet of Rt. 6; requesting a second point of access to Rt. 6; and substitution of more stringent landscaping requirements included in the Rt. 6 overlay district for the “opaque green screen” requirement.

On February 15, Pruitt held a second community meeting to discuss the reasons behind the requested changes. An initial community meeting held last October included a detailed, but conceptual, drawing of the subject property that included out parcels close to Rt. 6 for restaurants, apartments, and retail, including a grocery store.

The centerpiece of discussion at the February meeting, and the Planning Commission presentation, was an aerial photo of the property. A future road, to be built as a four lane divided boulevard, connecting the subject property to West Creek Parkway was shown.

Pruitt explained that the world has changed since West Creek was zoned as a business park nearly 30 years ago. The Motorola computer chip plant expected to bring accessory businesses and corporate headquarter campuses to the 3,500 acre park never materialized. There were no land sales in West Creek between 2006 and 2012; “Not for lack of trying,” said Pruitt.

Land at “The Notch” on the north end of West Creek, opposite the Wawa on Broad Street Road was sold for apartments and medical office buildings. Hardywood Park Craft Brewery bought land in 2015 where a brewery and event center is under construction. Last year, plans to build a rehabilitation hospital there were announced.

Pruitt explained that inclusion of the two relatively small parcels of land into West Creek is essentially a housekeeping matter. One of the parcels, left over after the construction of Rt. 288, is completely surrounded by West Creek property. The other, between Rt. 6 and West Creek property will be the second access point to the property.

He contended that the property in question is the most special area of the park. Land sloping to the lake there is very beautiful and would be an excellent site for residential uses of some sort.

At the community meeting, Pruitt seemed open to condos similar to Grayson Hill or Monument Square in Henrico, rather than apartments. He reiterated that, at this time, there are no specific uses, or buyers, for the property.

Deletion of the 1,000 foot setback from Rt. 6 for retail uses was the most contentious item. Opponents said that placing commercial development close to the road would destroy the rural nature of the area and is not needed as there are vacant stores in shopping centers a few miles east.

Pruitt said that companies interested in locating in West Creek express a desire for nearby services like banks, restaurants. Retailers want highly visible locations on the main road. He also pointed out that the 1,000 foot setback requirement does not apply to other uses permitted in West Creek, including warehouses. Principal Planner Tom Coleman said that retail buildings would not be higher than two stories while other uses that could be built close to Rt. 6, including hotels and warehouses, could be “more massive” in height.

At the community meeting, area residents objected to stores “turning their backs” to Rt. 6 so that passersby by would get a view of loading docks and dumpsters. Pruitt said that West Creek design standards, would prevent that. The upscale nature of the retail users, Pruitt said, would lean toward very attractive buildings.

At this time, there are no concrete plans for this land, Pruitt said repeatedly. He speculated that it could take as many as twenty years for build out. He envisions some restaurants, perhaps an outlet for that national coffee emporium, and a top drawer grocery, though no specific companies have expressed interest. Pruitt contended that using a master plan to develop this site will result in a more attractive, successful enclave than piecemeal development. There will be areas for office, commercial, and residential. They will not be on top of each other but connect in a manner to enable internal walkability.

An observation that, as written, West Creek could locate retail close to Rt. 6 for its entire frontage, prompted Pruitt to pledge to change the application when it goes to the Board of Supervisors for final approval, so the 100 foot setback to applies only to the subject property.

Pruitt said that the entrance to this part of West Creek will be similar to those at other entrances on Tuckahoe Creek Parkway and The Notch, which feature extensive landscaping and granite markers.

After some discussion among the Commissioners, it was decided that the requested 100 foot setback will be about 182 feet from the edge of the roadway. As this is in the Rt. 6 overlay district, any development here must receive approval from the Design Review Committee, which addresses stringent landscaping, architectural standards, and lighting.

Shelhorse said that the county’s 2035 comprehensive land use plan ( directs development to designated growth areas, that should be desirable places to live and work, and include a mix of residential, commercial, and recreational uses. West Creek has been on the books for almost 30 years with seventy-five percent of the usable land untouched. This will enhance the tax base to generate revenue to fund services including schools and fire-rescue and be a firewall to protect the remaining rural 85 percent of the county.

The Commissioners unanimously recommended the items for approval.

In January, the Board of Supervisors held a public hearing on an ordinance revision addressing sawmills. Questions raised caused the supervisors to return the ordinance to staff and the Planning Commission for clarification.

The proposed ordinance creates three categories for different kinds of sawmills: sawmill mobile (by right in A-1 and A-2); sawmill minor(by right with standards in A-1 and A-2); and sawmill commercial (CUP in A-1 and M-2). See the Planning Commission packet, available on the county website The Commissioners unanimously recommended the revised ordinance for approval.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Boomer power

While the Millennials seem to dominate headlines, there are still plenty of Baby Boomers (born between 1946 and 64) around, and they’re still a force in the real estate market.

On Monday, February 27, representatives of developer HHHunt held a community meeting at the Manakin Company 1 Fire-Rescue station to share its plans for a maximum 520 home 55 plus community in West Creek. The site is on the south side of Tuckahoe Creek Parkway just east of Hockett Road. It will be accessed from Tuckahoe Creek Parkway and Broad Branch Drive only.

The meeting generated a good turn-out. It was well-organized and—note to county, do this at all community meetings—included a portable sound system so that everyone could hear what was going on.

HHHunt, said representative Kim Kacani, builds lifestyle communities. She explained that Baby Boomer focus groups identified demand in the west end of Richmond for an upscale community of maintenance-free homes no larger than 2,500 square feet that offered amenities including a fitness center, pool, walking trails, and clubhouse to support activities.

Small lots or townhome options provide the balance between privacy and isolation that active Boomers seek in retirement. Of those surveyed, 52 percent want to retire within 20 miles of their current location; 54 percent of those cannot find homes that meet their needs.

Soon after an article about the HHHunt West Creek community ran in and other area media, it received many phone calls from Boomers inquiring about “getting on their list”.

The community will be age restricted. Each home, and they will all be privately owned single family, either free standing or townhomes, must have at least one resident over 55. No one under 19 will be allowed to reside there, so there will be no impact on county schools. Kacani said that this approach is supported by state and federal statutes.

West Creek, close to Short Pump and accessed by Rt. 288, is a perfect location, she contended.

The original vision of West Creek as a hub for corporate headquarter campuses never really came to pass. Although West Creek has been described as the “economic engine” for Goochland County, in reality, it looks more like a nature preserve.

The West Creek Emergency Center and Hardywood Park Craft Brewery, and the Bristol Apartment complex, slowly coming out of the ground, are the only recent developments in the central part of West Creek’s 3,500 acres. The Notch at the Broad Street Road end of West Creek has apartments, Medical office buildings, will soon be joined by a rehabilitation hospital. A memory care establishment has been approved for the south side of Broad Street Road, just west of the Henrico County line.

Placing 520 “quality rooftops”—the houses are expected to be priced between $350 and $500 thousand, the townhomes in the $280 to $350 range—will attract business to Centerville and, hopefully, jump start growth in West Creek.

HHHunt, said Kacani, has a long track record of creating high-quality well-designed and maintained communities that emphasize lifestyle. Streets will have sidewalks and use “dark sky” compliant lighting. Although most of the existing interior trees will be removed to be replaced with new plantings when construction is complete, trees along Hockett Road will remain to form the foundation of the buffer between the community and the outside world.

She said that HHHunt plans to be engaged in the community, supporting local organizations and taking part in hands on activities like Habitat for Humanity.

Traffic studies indicate that there is ample capacity on Tuckahoe Creek Parkway, including at peak hours. There will be no direct access from Hockett Road. Traffic engineer Erich Strohhacker said that VDOT will determine if a traffic signal would be required at the intersection of Hockett Road and Tuckahoe Creek Parkway. Area residents contend that traffic signal is already overdue.

As many of the residents in a 55 plus community are retired, traffic patterns differ from those in conventional subdivisions. A study of traffic at Cross Ridge, a similar community in Henrico, found that the residents make fewer trips per day than a conventional subdivision and those trips are spread out during the day rather than concentrated at peak hours.

The homes are expected to be served by natural gas. HHHunt manages the communities and will be involved “For a long time.” Construction will begin at the Tuckahoe Creek Parkway end; amenities, a sales tool, will be part of the initial phase .

Cash proffers, excluding those for schools, will be paid. The rezoning application is expected to go to the Goochland Planning Commission in May and on to the supervisors for final approval in a timely manner. Occupancy of the first homes is anticipated in early 2019. HHHunt envisions completion of 60 to 80 homes per year, with an approximate eight year build-out.

The homes will feature open concept design with first floor masters, garages, and maintenance free exteriors of material including cementitious siding, stone, and brick.

Adding more than 500 new homes to the county will further stress law enforcement and fire-rescue providers. The supervisors will need to ramp up hiring to keep pace with population growth.

As Goochlanders age, many would like to be able to downsize and stay in the community. Right now, there is no way to do that. The HHHunt proposal should fit that bill. Visit for more information on the company.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Follow the money

Follow the money

Goochland County Administrator John Budesky presented his proposed budget for fiscal year 2018, which begins July 1, to the Board of Supervisors on February 21. Budesky compiled the spending plan after detailed discussions with all entities funded all or in part by the county since he came on Board last summer.

This kicks off the county’s budget season, even though the process is ongoing. The tug of war between the recommendations and requests will be resolved by the supervisors when they adopt a final budget and set calendar year tax rates in April.

As proposed, the total FY2018 budget is $80.2 million, up 10 percent from the current year. Overall revenues are expected to increase by 4.9 percent, with personal property tax, levied on items like vehicles and boats, generating the largest gain of 8.5 percent.

The good news, and there is lots of it, is that the tax rates—53 cents per $100 of assessed valuation for real estate and 32 cents for the Tuckahoe Creek Service District ad valorem tax—will likely remain unchanged for calendar year 2017.

Property values have appreciated a little, so those rates represent a modest tax increase.

Some residents believe that our tax rates, the lowest in the region, are too low, that they should be raised to provide additional revenue for basic county services. Others contend that the rates are so high that it is difficult for land owners at the lower end of the wage scale to keep up with their taxes. They question the justification for some county expenditures. Both ends of the socioeconomic spectrum must be kept in mind when managing tax dollars.

The per capita income used in the proposed budget, taken from last year’s certified annual financial report (CAFR) is somewhat misleading. This number is derived by dividing the total income by the number of residents. Goochland’s population is about 22,000, and we have a generous handful of very affluent residents whose income skews this number way out of proportion.

Services provided by government are not funded by fairy dust. Levying taxes and spending the revenues they generate requires responsible, careful, and honest stewardship by our elected and appointed officials.

The proposed budget includes raises, longer hours at the convenience centers, some new employees, and the continuation of the of technology update, that enables excellence in finance.

Several budget workshops; a public hearing; and three town hall meetings in March; will be held to gather public input on the county’s spending plans.

Details of the proposed budget have been posted on the county website for review and comment. The proposed budget contains lots of interesting information about Goochland as well as charts and graphs to make the data more accessible. Budesky and the supervisors welcome any and all comments and suggestions about the budget. Please take few minutes to review the document.

During the February 21 workshop, Goochland Sheriff James L. Agnew, whose department requested five additional deputies, talked about law enforcement in the county.

Growth in the Broad Street corridor, still mostly in Henrico, generated an increase in DUI and traffic related incidents. The Rt. 288/Broad Street Road interchange wins the prize as the site of the most recorded wrecks in Goochland. Congestion there will only get worse and bring more vehicle accidents and other situations requiring the attention of law enforcement.

Agnew also asked for five additional dispatcher positions to staff the new emergency communications center, which is expected to be operational in the summer. (The proposed budget for the Sheriff’s Office includes two new dispatchers and one deputy.)

Dispatchers are the nerve center of emergency operations in the county. They answer 911 calls and deploy appropriate people and equipment, both law enforcement and fire-rescue to an emergency scene. This is not an easy job and its value to the health, safety, and welfare of the citizens cannot be overstated. The addition of emergency medical dispatch, providing instructions to treat callers until EMS arrives, is a goal, but requires adequate communications staffing. “Dispatchers multitask,” Agnew explained. “An emergency medical dispatcher must be dedicated to a single call until it is resolved.”

Fire-Rescue Chief Bill MacKay reported that a precipitous decline in volunteer participation in delivery of fire-rescue services necessitated an acceleration of hiring career providers. Recently, the supervisors approved filling positions authorized for July 1 as soon as possible.

Goochland fire-rescue volunteers are amazing people who give huge amounts of time and talents to serve our community. Given the increasing complexity of fire-rescue response and the demands of modern life, fewer people are willing or able to meet the training and duty requirements.

Other budget highlights include a reduction in some fees to make Goochland more competitive with our neighbors. Cost recovery fees for EMS hospital transport, however, will go up. As volunteer participation in delivery of fire-rescue services continues to decline, the need for paid personnel to ensure prompt response to 911 calls continues. The supervisors recently authorized an acceleration in the hiring of additional career fire-rescue providers.

Director of Finance Barbara Horlacher explained that these increase bring Goochland’s cost recovery fees into line with neighboring jurisdiction. Funds realized from this program offset some of the cost of hiring additional career fire-rescue personnel

Goochland earned a AAA bond rating a few years ago, a noteworthy achievement for a small county government plagued by financial dysfunction only a few years earlier. Fiscal policies in place today disburse money carefully and track every penny. Credit card statements and check registers for the county and school division are posted on the county website. Questions about any expenditure will be responded to in a fast and open manner.

The capital improvement plan (CIP) addresses big ticket items (costing more than $50,000 with a relatively long useful life) including a new school; another fire-rescue station in West Creek; a new east end ladder truck; extending Fairground Road to Rt.6, which will require relocation of athletic fields to the Central High School and Cultural Center grounds; and a replacement for Goochland’s venerable circuit courthouse, which has served the county since the early 1800s.

As the east end of the county grows, the rest of Goochland, approximately 85 percent, according to the 2035 Comprehensive Land Use Plan, is expected to remain rural. To support that, the proposed budget includes a $14,000 increase in support for the Monacan Soil and Water conservation District. This agency provides direct assistance and policy advice to farmers about protecting soil and water quality.

Additional funds are allocated to the Virginia Cooperative Extension to open Goochland office for 20 hours per week. This agency supports our farming community—you want rural, you need farmers—students, and residents with services like water quality testing and the Master Gardner program.

The proposed budget includes an increase of $670,000 in funding for Goochland Schools. Go to under the school board tab for complete information about the approve school budget for FY18.

Tax dollars spent close to home have the greatest impact on you daily life. Please take the time to see where your money goes.