Tidbits from the supervisors’ meeting
Election season is in high gear and there is a lot going on. The incumbent supervisors are busily scurrying around their districts dispensing threats and incentives, as the situation warrants, to get votes on November 8.
At their October meeting, the supervisors learned that the county will recover the funds stolen by the former treasurer Brenda Grubbs thanks to state bonding.
County administrator Rebecca T. Dickson told the board that she is preparing a victim impact statement detailing the widespread negative impact the theft had on the county. This will be delivered to Goochland Circuit Court Judge Timothy K. Sanner to use when he sentences Grubbs on December 13.
Dickson told the board that Goochland are being asked to participate in the Accelerate Virginia project to get a better handle on how internet services are distributed across the Commonwealth. (If you have not already done so, please visit http://acceleratevirginia.org/speedtest and participate. You also get a report that gives you a detailed look at the speed of your particular connection.)
Dickson also reported that Verizon seems to have addressed the problems that caused declining wireless service in some parts of the county.
The Board voted to permit Southern States in Courthouse Village to hold a rabies vaccination on November 5. This is a great way to protect your domestic animals against rabies.
A list of long range road improvement projects for the county was trotted out for the board’s information. This list, which goes out for decades and identifies no funding source, will be presented to the Metropolitan Planning Organization.
These include items on the ever popular and often fictional VDOT six year plan, whose items often take decades to materialize. The projects on the MPO list are to have regional significance and identify a future transportation vision, or something.
At the very bottom of the list, which, to be fair did not prioritize items, was an interchange modification study for the Rt. 288 Broad Street Road interchange. That’s where people not familiar with the area or those with a death wish try to make left turns onto westbound Broad Street Road. Not one board member suggested that this item be given a high priority. Building a four lane bridge on Rt. 6 over Genito Creek was far higher up the list. We’ve never gotten an explanation for VDOT’s failure to build a full cloverleaf where Broad Street Road and Rt. 288 intersect.
Retiring District 5 supervisor James Eads made a presentation about the Tuckahoe Creek Service District financing. (Please see the board packet and listen to the recording of this presentation at www.co.goochland.va.us.)
Eads gave a brief recap of how the TCSD was created. He contended that the plan to enter into agreements with Henrico County and the City of Richmond to obtain a public utility capacity was crafted by major landowners and forced upon the supervisors.
Some major TCSD landowners have a different recollection. The recall being approached by the county with the plan and being informed that they needed to act quickly or they would miss the opportunity to bring utilities to their land.
We will never know what really happened. It’s hard to believe that if given enough time to adequately vet the TCSD scheme some TCSD property owners would have, at the very least, questioned the wild growth assumptions used in the bond applications.
Eads did make the very valid point that all county citizens have paid a part of the cost of the TCSD because only 45 percent of the real estate tax on the increased valuation on commercial property in the TCSD goes to the county. The remainder is used to pay debt service.
Eads also contended that the TCSD was never intended to be an economic engine for the county. It’s curious that is almost a decade of hearing the economic engine statement bandied about Eads speaks out now.
His short term solution to the dearth of TCSD development, which he blames solely on the current economic downturn, is to eliminate land use taxation in the TCSD. In reality, the TCSD never took off. As early as 2004, when it was barely online, property owners griped that the county refused to enact zoning appropriate for the amount of available utilities.
Eads contended that permitting land use taxation on property served by water and sewer offers no incentive for development. He even prepared a rough map illustrating the number acres at the Ashland Road Interstate 64 interchange currently in land use that should be developed.
He made a motion that the county petition the Virginia General Assembly to permit Goochland to rescind eligibility for land use taxation on the TCSD. Should the GA decline to grant that wish, Eads said the county should abolish land use county wide. He argued that permitting land use taxation in the TCSD acts as a deterrent to development.
A dead silence followed Eads’ motion as his fellow supervisors declined to put forth a second, killing the motion.
District 1 supervisor Andrew Pryor observed that when people were recruited to join the TCSD they were told that they could retain land use taxation until the land was developed.
Ned Creasey District 3 observed that there has been no recent meeting with the TCSD advisory committee and contended that group should have a voice in any decision.
Rudy Butler, District 4 said that the county needs to get a plan to deal with the TCSD debt, work through all of the details and come up with a solution.
Eads replied that Butler’s suggestion was “the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard.”
Board chair William Quarles Jr. said that he wants everyone to come to the table and understand the entire situation, which effectively closed the discussion. You can bet that this will not surface at the next meeting.