Monday, April 30, 2012

Squeaky wheels

Goochland’s newly elected supervisors have truly kept their campaign promises to be accessible and responsive to constituents.
They return phone calls, attend a wide range of public meetings and are working hard to transform a county government fashioned like a house of cards into one built on a firm foundation for the future.

Moving the county forward is a complex task.

Elements of challenges facing the county will take some time to bear fruit.

The Tuckahoe Creek Service District debt challenge is the quarter billion octopus in the corner that casts its shadow on every action the board takes.

Moving with great caution yet all deliberate haste, the supervisors and staff crafted a budget for fiscal 2013 that included an increase of the dreaded ad valorem, tax levied only on property in the TCSD, to 34 cents. One penny of the tax generates $60,000 in revenue.

During this year’s open an extensive budget process which provided ample opportunity for public comment and input, residents who pay the extra tax, especially those who live in Kinloch and The Parke at Centerville, urged the supervisors to eliminate the tax and spread the debt service burden to the entire county.

They contend that, because the whole county will benefit from economic development in the TCSD, everyone should pay for it. They also complained that the whole county is not chipping in to pay for the project. They fail to understand that the county general fund does support the TCSD to the tune of more than $1 million annually.

On April 17 when the board voted to set 2012 tax rates, District 4 supervisor Bob Minnick, whose constituents include most TCSD residents, put forth a motion for a 31 cent tax. That effort failed.

A second motion for a 32 cent tax passed 3-2 with Minnick joined by Susan Lascollette District 1 and Manuel Alvarez District 2 to approve that rate. Board chair Ned Creasey District 3 and vice chair Ken Peterson District 5 voted against the measure.
Staff will bring options to the supervisors at their June meeting for ways to cut another $120,000 from an already lean county budget.

All supervisors made it clear that they are very concerned about resolving the TCSD debt problem.
Peterson said that the TCSD situation will not be resolved by a silver bullet but rather by silver buckshot comprised of initiatives small and large that will work together to “fix” the problem.

It’s a good thing and a nice change that the new supervisors want to be responsive to the needs of the citizens. However, they must also take care not to let the good feelings of these actions overshadow the needs of the entire county. Sometimes, the best answer is no, even though that may be difficult and unpopular.


Anonymous said...

What would happen if the county defaulted on the TCSD bonds?

S. E. Warwick said...

The TCSD agreement includes a "State intercept" provision. This means that if the county were to default on the bonds, the Commonwealth would intercept state funds that normally go to the county that partially fund schools; The Sheriff's Offfice; other constitutional officers and so forth.
One of the many terrible problems with the TCSD agreement is that it includes the state intercept and DOES NOT allow prepayment.