Thursday, June 7, 2012
As we move into summer mode, Goochland County government keeps chugging along in a positive and purposeful way.
At their June 5 meeting county supervisors attended to routine business.
On recommendation of the audit committee, the supervisors voted to retain the services of the Harrisonburg firm PBGH, LLP to perform the annual audit for the county, schools, and community services board. The firm was selected as the result of its response to a detailed request for proposals that was carefully crafted by members of the audit committee.
During a meeting of the audit committee held just before the supervisors’ session, John Wack deputy county administrator for financial services contended that PBGH is a good fit for the county audit. The firm has extensive experience working with small local governments and its price was far lower than other respondents.
For the past three fiscal years county audits were performed by KPMG. As Goochland has pretty much gotten its fiscal house in order since 2009, the cost of these audits can be scaled back. Also, changing audit firms on a regular basis is sound business practice unlike the appointment for life scheme used by the previous regime. (See the board packet on the county website www.co.goochland.va.us for details of the contract.)
Those in attendance at the afternoon board session saw Goochland Fire-Rescue in action. A person in the audience experienced a medical emergency during a presentation by the county forester and was quickly aided by Deputy Chief EMS and paramedic D. E. “Eddie” Ferguson, Jr. He was soon joined by County Registrar Frances Ragland, a volunteer EMT with Courthouse Company 5. A county ambulance arrived shortly thereafter and transported the patient to an area hospital. The efficiency and professionalism illustrated in this incident is the result of hard work and commitment to excellence by many people. Goochland is fortunate to be served by these dedicated providers.
Goochland County Treasurer Pamela Cooke Johnson reported that the time needed to complete monthly closings has dropped from 68 calendar days at the beginning of the year to nine days for April. The number of county bank accounts has been reduced from 19 to ten and Johnson expects that number to continue to decline.
She expressed concern about the lack of traffic in the treasurer’s office for tax payments. The due date for the first half of 2012 real estate tax was June 5.(At 2 p.m. it was mighty lonely at the teller window, but the speedy service was excellent!)
Johnson also reported that she has found no evidence of written policies in the treasurer’s office and will “start from scratch” to develop policies as her workload permits.
Johnson also told the supervisors that her predecessor permitted some landowners to pay their property taxes after the statutory due date with no penalty. The practice has been discontinued. You just can’t make this stuff up!
Mike Cady representing VDOT declared the Centerville widening of Rt. 250 complete except for landscaping. A public hearing on the widening of Interstate 64 in Goochland will be held at Centerville Company 3 on July 11.
Goochland County Administrator Rebecca Dickson introduced Daniel Schardein III, the new deputy county administrator for community development. Having filled most of the important staff positions that had been vacant for some time, Dickson can concentrate on running the county. The caliber of new department heads bodes well for the future.
As the county’s fiscal year ends June 30 the board trued up the budget for fiscal 2012 matching projections with actual amounts. Revenues were higher and expenses lower to the tune of about $3.2 million, all of which was appropriated for specific uses.
Susan Lascollette District 1 contended that economic development is a higher priority item for the county than parks and moved to switch appropriations for parks and economic development. This will provide $480,000 for economic development and $300,000 for parks instead of the other way around. The entire board concurred.
The supervisors authorized Dickson to execute a contract for creation of an economic development website for up to $45,000. This is yet another badly overdue item that will help to attract businesses to the county.
At the start of the evening session Dickson introduced William Gilchrist, a senior at VCU, and Mark Holman Jr., a senior at Virginia State University, who will be serving as summer interns.
Gilchrist will work with in the county attorney’s office learning about how civil and criminal disputes are handled at the local government level.
Holman will shadow Dickson getting a close look at the nuts and bolts of actual county operations by spending time in each department.
As part of their internship Gilchrist and Holman will work on projects for the county and craft a template for future internship programs.
Good government does not happen by accident. It is achieved by collaboration between honest and effective elected officials and skilled and hard-working staff. These fine young men are to be commended for their interest in local government. Kudos to the supervisors and staff, especially Paul Drumwright, for bringing this initiative to fruition.
Following public hearings, the board approved an amendment to the county zoning code to permit wastewater treatment plants as a conditional use by special exception on property zoned A-2 (agricultural limited.) It also granted such a permit to Aqua Virginia, Inc. to operate a wastewater treatment plant on the site of an existing wastewater treatment facility on the corner of Hermitage Road and Rt. 6, which has been there for nearly 40 years. Better late than never!