Thursday, February 27, 2014

Trust but verify

Heads up, Goochland! It’s homework time. Proposed budgets for the county and school division have been presented, along with the six year capital improvement plan (CIP). These documents are online for your perusal at the county website,

At a February 24 meeting, the proposed county budget for fiscal year 2015, which starts on July 1, was presented to the Board of Supervisors. A live stream of the short meeting is on the county website that has an overture of utterly adorable photos of orphans at the county animal shelter seeking “forever homes.”

The school division completed its strategic plan last year; it can be accessed on the schools website in all its glory with the school budget under the school board tab.

These documents are the product of much hard work and long hours of informed, thoughtful discussions by all involved. The budget is based on continuation of the 53 cents per $100 of assessed valuation property tax rate. It funds several new positions including a full-time assessor; comptroller; part-time assistant registrar; two deputies; and a part-time fire-rescue training officer. Longer open hours at the county’s convenience centers are funded as well. The budget also looks ahead to fiscal 2016 for better planning.

The CIP lists large projects—expenditures in excess of $50,000 that do not recur annually—creating a mechanism for orderly paying for public facilities and equipment. It guesstimates the cost of items like an east end elementary school, fire-rescue stations, and a circuit court building. The CIP contains a great deal of interesting county data in addition to the “inside baseball” numbers about everything from parks to computers.

As neighboring jurisdictions contemplate raising their rates or imposing new taxes, the real mystery is why none of the regional media is reporting on Goochland’s fiscal activities. They’re here in force with satellite trucks when something bad happens, but good news must be too boring to attract their attention.

However, citizens, voters, and especially taxpayers, of Goochland County must pay close attention. The budget and CIP information is on the county website and in the library in hard copy. Departmental presentations are included in board packets for meetings in January and February that provide rationale for the funding requests.

Upcoming town hall meetings in each district between March 17 and 27 will provide an opportunity for all citizens to ask questions and make suggestions. County Administrator Rebecca Dickson pointed out that the proposed budget is not written in stone and will evolve before its adoption, expected in the latter half of April.

Citizens have the right to comment on county fiscal plans, and the responsibility to ask informed questions. Our elected and appointed officials seek public input about the way they plan to use tax dollars and want to hear from you. An engaged citizenry is essential for responsive government. It’s good to trust that elected officials are doing the right thing, but it’s prudent to verify that they’re on the right track.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

A good time for a good cause

Goochland Education Foundation Gala

What: Casino Night
Where: Richmond Country Club, Rt. 6
When: Saturday, March 15, 2014, 6:00 p.m.

Tickets for single attendees are $75, couples $125, and GCPS staff are $40. Sponsorships start at $500, ads in the program at $50. We’re also asking that those who are able to purchase tickets, who may not want to attend, consider purchasing tickets that can be given to GCPS staff for attendance.

The event is all inclusive – dinner, desserts, unlimited non-alcoholic beverages, 2 alcoholic beverages, and casino gaming (provided by Massino’s Casinos). Door prizes, raffle prizes, and a silent auction. As a bonus, free childcare available for children aged 0 – 12, provided that the attendees show their ticket at drop off and pick up.

Donations in lieu of purchasing tickets can be made to:
Goochland Education Foundation
C/o Goochland County Public Schools
2938-I River Road West
Goochland, VA 23063

A message from Goochland Education Foundation President, Elizabeth Nelson-Lyda

“I would like to extend a personal invitation to each and every one of you - my fellow community members, friends, and neighbors to GEF’s 3rd Annual Gala – Casino night.
In the last two years alone, Goochland Education Foundation has raised and invested more than $100,000 in the acceleration, advancement, and enrichment of education for all in Goochland County, Virginia. We cannot do it without the great people of Goochland County who volunteer their time, items purchased, and funds to support curriculum enhancement. We appreciate your efforts to enrich the experience and lives of our students. Many thanks to you all!!!
Goochland Education Foundation shows great stewardship of funds received. In 2013, GEF managed a 99.5% re-investment rate of all funds received. This means that all overhead/general and administrative expenses were less than 1% of our entire budget. We achieved this by not having any paid staff (all directors and volunteers provide services free of charge). As a not-for-profit 501(c)3 organization, a rate of less than 1% is incredibly good and we are proud : ).

Please consider attending our event or purchasing tickets to donate to teachers. You will not be disappointed! We appreciate your consideration. Thank you, Goochland!!!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The core

Upon taking office two years ago, the current Goochland Board of Supervisors set about fulfilling campaign promises to concentrate on delivery of core services. These are: law enforcement, fire-rescue, education, and social services.

Only the Sheriff’s Office and Fire-Rescue serve all citizens, not just select constituencies.

In the next few years, several hundred new single family homes—not counting the approximately 300 apartments under construction near Rt. 288—will bring more people and cars to Goochland. The newcomers will bring with them high expectations about delivery of governmental services. The self-reliance that is a cherished part of rural character will fade into history.

Ensuring adequate law enforcement and fire-rescue for Goochland protects citizens and is a vital part of economic development. Businesses want to operate in places that are safe for their employees and customers.

On February 4, the supervisors discussed budget requests with Sheriff James L. Agnew and Fire-Rescue Chief William MacKay. (See part c of the board packet for February 4 on the county website for details.)

Both agencies have excellent reputations and are highly regarded throughout the Commonwealth by their peers.
The Goochland County Sheriff’s Office—which has been an accredited agency, (see 1999 by the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services—patrols the entire county around the clock every day of the year; provides security and prisoner transport for all Goochland Courts; handles traffic incidents on all roads except Interstate 64 and Rt. 288; and ensures the safety of the citizens. It is on duty 24/7 every day of the year. (For additional information go to

Violent crime, Agnew said, was down during 2013. Arrests declined by 25 percent and traffic related incidents rose 10 percent. Burglary is still the most frequent crime and traffic offenses including speeding and DUI are increasing. He contended that the westbound Rt. 288/Broad Street Road interchange is the most frequent site of accidents in the county, characterizing it as “a horrible intersection.” (Are you listening VDOT?)

Agnew’s fiscal focus is manpower and vehicles. His proposed budget includes the cost of four additional deputy positions to add one deputy per shift and an additional dispatcher.

Currently, said Agnew, four newly hired deputies are attending the Rappahannock Regional Law Enforcement Academy, bringing the total to 33. “The department is fully staffed “for the first time in recent memory.” It takes 39 weeks from hiring until those deputies are “turned loose” to patrol on their own. The four requested additional deputies would increase the safety factor for both the citizens and other deputies, who must be assured that they have back up while patrolling solo.

The cost of equipping a new deputy is quite high and includes everything from shoulder patches to firearms, cars and computers. New hires must sign a contract for a two year commitment with Goochland upon employment.
While things were quiet when Agnew presented his budget requests, a few days later, the body of Keven Quick was discovered in western Goochland. Several people were soon arrested in connection with the crime, which will be adjudicated in Goochland. This will mean lots of prisoner transport activity for the Sheriff’s Office in fiscal 2015.

MacKay began his remarks with the good news that no Goochland citizens or responders were killed or injured in fires during 2013. Firefighters know that the best fire is one that never gets started.

He explained the high cost of protective clothing that permits firefighters to do their job safely. The nature of current building materials makes the smoke of even a house fire a toxic miasma of hazardous chemicals.

As emergency medical services (EMS) comprise more than 70 percent of fire-rescue call activity, which often includes transport to a hospital either in Richmond or Charlottesville, ambulances rack up mileage quickly. Replacement cost is in the neighborhood of $250,000 each. Unlike the early days of EMS, when local hearses were sometimes used for hospital transport, modern ambulances—when staffed by well-trained crews—save lives every day.

In Goochland, fire-rescue is inevitably morphing from a volunteer organization to a paid one. This is an expensive proposition. As the mandatory training becomes more rigorous and required duty hours rise, fewer residents are willing or able to make the time commitment to become a volunteer. Goochland is blessed with a dedicated corps of fire-rescue volunteers who give tirelessly of their time and skills to save lives and protect property. There just aren’t enough to keep up with increased demands for service. New residents have little interest in volunteering, yet expect instantaneous response when they dial 911.

In the past few years, the county hired paid providers to supplement coverage shortfalls, especially for daytime weekdays. Each year that number rises. Last year, the county put a cost recovery program in place that bills medical insurance for ambulances transport. So far, said MacKay, cost recovery revenues are meeting expectations. Volunteer EMS hours declined across the board in 2013, a further indication of the need to bolster paid staff, funded by cost recovery.

A significant item in MacKay’s budget request is funding for three 24/7 paid ambulance crews to supplement volunteer staffing, which, according to EMS volunteer hour statistics included in his presentation, seem to indicate more sporadic volunteer coverage.

Unlike deputies, who need to be trained, fire-rescue providers must be fully trained and certified at time of employment. Each year, Goochland Fire-Rescue offers training classes for firefighters and emergency medical technicians that are free to county volunteers.

As the supervisors pore over the details of these departmental budgets, they must be mindful of the big picture and make sure that these agencies are adequately funded. A safe and secure environment is vital for the success of all enterprises in a community.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

February--Revenge of the ground hog

As neighboring jurisdictions gnash their teeth about revenue shortfalls, Goochland County lives within its means.
At the February 4 Board of Supervisors’ meeting, Deputy County Administrator/Finance John Wack presented the half time report on county finances for fiscal 2014, which began last July 1.

The county is about $3 million to the good, as of December 31. Revenues came in a bit higher than anticipated and, overall, actual expenditures lag estimates. County Administrator Rebecca Dickson—who commended all county departments for doing a good job of managing their money very well for the fourth consecutive year—cautioned the supervisors to wait until the fiscal year is over to allocate what may become surplus funds.

At the beginning of the meeting, the Board recognized Robert “Corky” Marks, who retired after 26 years in the Department of Animal Control, for his outstanding service to the county.

Spring District town hall meetings will be held between March 17 and 27. Board Chair Manuel Alvarez, Jr. District 2 explained that the basic subject matter discussed at each meeting will be similar and encouraged all residents to attend one, or all of them.
The dates are: District 3, March 17, J.Sargeant Reynolds; District 1, March 20, BES; District 2, March 24 JSRCC; District 5, March 26 Manakin Company 1 Fire-Rescue Station; and District 4, March 27 Grace Chinese Baptist Church. All meetings begin at 7 p.m. These meetings are a great way to learn about county operations from the people who make and implement the decisions in an informal setting.

The supervisors appropriated $55,000 to complete road paving at the Midpoint Industrial Park near Hadensville. The county and Economic Development Authority are each chipping in half the amount above and beyond proceeds of performance bonds put into place when the park was created more than a decade ago to get the roads done so they can be turned over to the state for maintenance. As the economy picks up, the paving should make the parcels of land at Midpoint more attractive to buyers.

There was more discussion on the looming storm water management regulations pending General Assembly action on bills to delay the start date. Public hearings will be held before local storm water management laws are adopted.

That segued into a budget workshop presentation by the Monacan Soil and Water Conservation District, whose primary functions are to administer the Virginia Agricultural Cost Share program; provide technical soil and water conservation assistance to farmers and landowners; and to assist with water conservation measures with regard to the Chesapeake Bay Act. All of which are related to mitigating water pollution.

Currently, there is a 100 percent cost share program available for landowners to build fences to keep livestock out of streams and provide alternate water sources for their animals. The MWSCD requested additional funds for personnel to provide the technical assistance for those grants.

The cost share program is targeted at streams with the greatest perceived environmental threat, i.e. number of livestock and stream frontage, and is not means tested.

Keith Burgess, MWSCD District Manager said that he would hate to see Goochland farmers miss out on 100 percent funding of conservation measures because the county would not make a donation to fund the personnel to provide technical assistance.
Matt Ryan, economic development director, reported that enquiries about Goochland are increasing. He also said that he spent apportion of the day in Centerville with a “national retailer.” We hope it was not Cabela’s, which will be opening an outlet in Short Pump, a stone’s throw from the Goochland line.

Ryan asked once again for guidance on where to focus his efforts. As things get busier, he will need to prioritize prospects and would like a list of targeted industries, so he knows “which call to return first.”

The Rural Economic Development Committee, a temporary group formed to explore the possibilities of commerce outside the villages, is hard at work and will present its findings and recommendations to the supervisors later this year, reported Ryan.
Ryan said that Paul Drumwright, senior management and projects analyst, will work with him on a part time basis. As many economic development activities are delicate and must take place “below the radar” it’s hard to know what is really going on. We hope McDonald’s is the tip of a large and diverse iceberg.

While there is some interest in Courthouse Village, without a clearer vision for that area’s future, realizing growth there will be difficult, he said.

An important economic development initiative is making Goochland more business friendly and changing the perception that the county is hard to work with.

Comments made in an earlier workshop by Building Official Gary Fisher that contractors find the regulatory environment in Goochland accommodating indicate that minds are being changed, slowly but surely.
The real question is what sort of non-residential development will Goochland, especially Centerville, attract, and when will it start?

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Goldilocks blues

Goochland Planning Commissioners deferred a vote that would permit construction of a three story self storage warehouse on the land to the right, which is on the west side of Three Chopt Road north of Rt.250 pending clarification of the height of the building in reference to nearby Rt. 288. Maybe they could measure the tall pines as a reference.

Everyone wants “high quality” development in Centerville. The trouble is, no one has a clear picture of "just right" development. A great deal of disappointment has been expressed about the advent of Goodwill and McDonald’s, which seems to be under construction at last.

The February 6 agenda of the Goochland Planning Commission included items dealing with land on the north side of Broad Street Road, just east of Rt. 288.

Applications to rezone several narrow, wedged shaped parcels totaling 3.5 acres to B-1 business and secure a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) for construction of a 58,500 square foot three story self-store warehouse have been kicking around the Department of Community Development for almost a year.

The streamlined Planning Commission, which is doing a superb job vetting land use matters that come before it, tried hard to visualize the proposal, but ultimately deferred a vote until its March 6 meeting. A second public hearing will be held at that time.

Several parts of the CUP application need clarification, including just how much of the proposed structure would rise above the Rt. 288 road level.

Tom Kinter, speaking on behalf of the owner Three Broad, LLC, and staff disagreed on the number. Although information in the meeting packet (available under the planning commission tab on the county website: indicates that the proposed building would rise between 15 and 20 feet above traffic lanes. Kinter estimated the building’s height between 25 and 30 feet, while the staff report said that Rt. 288 is 20 feet higher than Three Chopt.

There was also disagreement about future disposition of a morsel of land at the end of the Three Chopt cul-de-sac that belongs to this property. The county would like to see its easement dedicated for a future right-of-way. Kinter, while agreeing in theory to the dedication, said that if that portion of the property is removed from the parcel, the floor area ratio will make the proposed warehouse a non-conforming use. Deferral until these issues are clarified was a prudent move.

The staff summary explains that the Centerville overlay district, which governs the subject property, encourages buildings “at a pedestrian scale,” which would seem to exclude massive three story buildings. However, as this structure will sit 350 feet north of Broad Street Road—Food Lion is 450 feet, according to Kinter—it should not loom over the main road. A smaller lot right next to Rt. 288 is zoned commercial and will be accessed only from Three Chopt. Currently, VDOT is using the Broad Street/Three Chopt corner for staging activities during the I64 widening. Office trailers there will be more visible to passing traffic than the proposed warehouse.

County Planner Joanne Hunter mentioned during the staff presentation that the right-of- way for the portion of Rt. 288 between Broad Street Road and Interstate 64 is leased, rather than owned, by VDOT because it was built over a former vehicle junkyard.
Signage for the proposed will be permitted on only the south and east elevations. It will consist of large letters, which could be internally illuminated, mounted directly on the outside walls.
Kinter requested additional signage on the north side of the building, but Hunter said that VDOT would not allow lighting adjacent to the roadway as it would be a distraction to drivers.

He did not bother to estimate the amount of increased property taxes or operating revenue that the project would bring to county coffers. It is unclear what hours of operation will be.

As presented, the building would be served by public water and a private drain field. Even though the utilities needs of this project should be minimal—restrooms for a handful of employees—connection to public sewer, or at least a dedicated easement, lines should be mandatory to facilitate further development in the area.
A condition prohibits storage of hazardous materials, but there was no discussion of how that would be enforced. Also, there are two other self-storage facilities operating in Centerville.

Technical details aside, there was discussion of the appropriateness of a self-storage warehouse in the entrance corridor to Centerville.

Currently, the north side of Broad Street Road between the Henrico line and Rt. 288 is utilitarian at best, and not likely to change soon.

On Friday, February 7, reported that 300 high end homes will spring from farmland fronting on Broad Street just west of Strange’s, almost literally a stone’s throw from Rt. 288.

Adding those homes to the upscale apartments under construction at The Notch opposite Wawa, there will soon be lots of affluent rooftops in the Centerville orbit, a prime requisite for developers. As most of these new residences are expected to be townhomes, the demand for self-storage will rise.

Paul Costello, a member of the county’s design review board and thoughtful critic of local land use policy, contended that a self-storage warehouse is not appropriate for the Centerville entrance corridor. He said that quality development attracts quality development and that the proposal runs the risk of setting a bad precedent.

The commissioners were open to the proposal.

Matt Brewer, District 2, said that, the proposed building seemed attractive and contended that, given the shape and location of the subject property, its uses are limited. Commission Chair Tom Rockecharlie, District 5, pointed out that the proposed building is much more attractive than similar facilities and would set a high standard.

Real villages--places where people live, work, and transact business--do not fall from the sky fully formed. Centerville already has a variety of enterprises, adding more will ensure a vibrant local economy. The sterile perfection of a West Broad Village, with acres of identical, beautiful, and empty retail space, is not the answer. Strict, but fair, enforcement of overlay criteria and directing development to appropriate locations will help Centerville grow in a graceful and functional manner.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Legislate in haste...

The good news is that the Virginia General Assembly is a part time legislature. The bad news is senators and delegates have little time to thoughtfully consider the consequences of the deluge of bills before casting ballots.

One of these, SB430, sponsored by Senator John Watkins of Powhatan, creates something called a farm brewery license that exempts those enterprises from any local zoning control.

The Goochland Board of Supervisors—which fully supports regulatory parity between farm breweries and farm wineries, the purported purpose of SB430-- believes that this bill prohibits local zoning authority over roads, parking, large crowd permits, and the ability to mitigate harm to neighboring property.

At its Tuesday, February 4 meeting, the Board unanimously approved a resolution stating its opposition to the portions of SB430 that prohibit the county from exercising its authority to regulate land use matters in its jurisdiction.

Board Chair Manuel Alvarez, Jr. District 2 said that, while this bill was clearly written to address a specific brewery located in Goochland, its impact is statewide. He said that this board has been proactive in its support of farm breweries, including granting a waiver for a paving requirement to allow the local brewery to open on schedule.

Board vice Chair Susan Lascolette, District 1, contended that the most egregious part of the bill is its elimination of citizen right to have input on local land use matters.

Bob Minnick, District 4, said it is one thing for a locality to exercise its zoning regulations, but completely different when the public is excised from any discussion of how their land use will be regulated and that call is passed to Richmond. All flexibility in the matter, the ability to negotiate and ameliorate, and all public input is gone. Activities like this can go on essentially unrestrained, he contended.

In its current form, the hands of the county would be tied to address public safety, including turn lanes, crowd control, and protecting public safety in general, explained County Attorney Norman Sales. He also said that, in its current form, SB430 invites litigation.

As written, SB430—whose purpose is supposedly to encourage farm breweries—offers some interesting prospects. For instance, both Dover Hall and the Adams International School could have simply planted some barley and hops, installed brewing equipment, and acquired a farm brewery license rather than apply for conditional use permits to become event venues. As long as they kept the noise level down, they could operate without restrictions on size and number of events, parking, traffic control, or any of the other zoning restraints imposed by the county.

In fact, South Ceres Farm on Broad Street Road in Oilville, which is owned by Douglas and Tamra Adams, would be a great site for a farm brewery. It has lots of land, good road access, and would benefit from Douglas Adams’ knowledge of the wine industry. No CUP would be needed to do pretty much whatever they chose on every square inch of the property. As written, SB430 does not limit consumption of alcohol to a specific place on a farm brewery property.

Any land in Virginia zoned agricultural, including that in residential subdivisions, could obtain a farm brewery license and host hoards of visitors regardless of traffic impact.

Local control of land use regulations is a vital mechanism to enable orderly and mutually beneficial growth. Removal of that control will invite chaos and clash between neighbors, and fail to protect the health, welfare and safety of all.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Weed whacking

Soon after taking office two years ago, the current Goochland Board of Supervisors used the budget process to get a detailed understanding of government functions.

Although they get out of the way and let county employees do their jobs, the supervisors’ annual incursion into “the weeds” of county operations reveals a great deal of interesting information about what Goochland government does, and the people that make things happen.

Before approving the county budget for fiscal year 2015, which being July 1, 2014, in April, the supervisors wade through a lot of numbers. Several budget workshops have been scheduled for the next few months during which department heads make presentations that include achievements, challenges, and proposed budget requests.

The county real estate tax rate has held steady at 53 cents per $100 of valuation for several years in spite of a steep decline in property assessments. Thanks to resourceful use of limited funds, including some deep cuts in past years, Goochland is living within its means.

Thanks to the close relationship between the supervisors and school board, even our education system is moving forward while keeping a close eye on the public purse.

This year, there seems to be a glimmer of light at the end of the bare bones budget tunnel. Property assessments are up just over three percent from last year, instead of declining more. However, the budget for FY2015 is based on revenue in hand, not on the way.

The January 30 workshop included presentations from Animal Control; Community Development; Commissioner of the Revenue; Pamunkey Regional Library; Registrar and Electoral Board; Treasurer; and Parks, Recreation and Facilities Management. (The informational packet, dated January 22, is available on the county website under the supervisors’ tab.)

Common themes appeared in each narrative. The county is growing and the economy is picking up. Residential and commercial development is gearing up after years of stagnation. As more people move to Goochland, the demand for services grows. Agencies, which have worked hard to “do more with less”, are nearing their productivity thresholds.

The picture was by no means bleak. Each department discussed ongoing goals, interim achievements and future challenges. The accomplishments were impressive.

Tim Clough, Animal Control Director, explained the addition of a shelter attendant and increased county support, including the efforts of Lisa Beczkiewicz, Administrative Assistant / Deputy Clerk to increase awareness of the animal shelter (located at the entrance to Hidden Rock Park, just off Fairgrounds Road) resulted in a drastic rise in the number of cats and dogs returned to their owners, adopted, or transferred to animal rescue groups until they find their “forever home.” (See packet for happy rise in bar graph statistics.)
No animals at the Goochland Shelter were euthanized for space limitations, Clough said.
Clough said that the increase in population will require a larger shelter. He said that other counties have built larger animal shelters funded by private donations and believes that there is sufficient support for a similar initiative in Goochland.
County Administrator Rebecca Dickson explained that the improvements in shelter conditions and operations were spurred by citizens who brought their concerns to the supervisors, who supported the changes.

The Department of Community Development oversees planning and zoning; civil and environmental engineering; unities, building permits and inspections; and convenience centers. As utilities has its own stalk on the organization chart, it will be discussed at a later date.

Dan Schardein explained that Community Development wants feedback on its performance from its customers—those who interact with the DCD—to gauge its performance and learn what it needs to do better. A stamped, self-addressed survey card is given to all customers to ensure anonymity of respondents. The return rate, said Schardein, is fairly low. All comments, good, bad, or indifferent are reviewed.

A major challenge of DCD is finding ways to support economic development while enforcing regulations that ensure quality development and protect the character of the county.

Gary Fisher, county building official, reported that increasing complexity of new construction requires more skill and takes longer to complete inspections in a timely manner. He explained that construction of 554 single family homes, in addition to those in the works, will tax county staff in the near future. Fisher said that some of the more complicated inspection work could be outsourced, but characterized hiring another staff member as a good long term investment and best use of county funds.
Fisher also said that the county’s reputation among developers as being easy to work with is very important.

Improvements to the central convenience center are coming along. Schardein reported that paving must wait for warmer weather. The big news here is that there was discussion about reopening the central convenience center on Thursday. Ned Creasey, District 3, supported investigating the Thursday reopening, which might be achieved by reducing hours on other days.

County conveniences centers experienced a 13.2 percent increase in the amount of trash received. This is believed to be the result of more households disposing of their own trash and fewer burning garbage at home. Commercial trash goes elsewhere.
The good news is that the cost of processing solid waste dropped by an average of $20 per ton. Dickson explained that this cost per ton will be used as a baseline measurement going forward, in the hopes of realizing additional economies.

The Electoral Board and Registrar explained that the state has mandated replacement of the county’s electronic voting machines with equipment that produces a paper ballot. Details about the cost to the county are still vague
Herb Griffith, who served as chair of the Electoral Board, retired at the end of 2013. Another Republican will be appointed by the Circuit Court to fill out the remaining year of his term.

County Treasurer Pamela Cooke Johnson reported that her department is meeting or exceeding its goals with regard to financial operations and employee training. Tax collection rates for 2013 exceeded certification thresholds.

Johnson said that her department is actively pursuing delinquent taxes. There are 181 parcels of land in the county on which taxes were not collected between 1993 and 2009, just written off. Johnson said that she is working to collect back taxes by searching for owners to make them aware of their obligations and give them an opportunity to pay. Otherwise, the land will be sold to get it back on the tax rolls. Johnson said that she will work with people living on delinquent property to establish a payment plan to bring in some revenue. Employment liens will be placed on those who owe back taxes where appropriate.

Parks, recreation and facilities management, a department created a few years back to reduce duplication of efforts and maximize personnel utilization, is busier than ever. This department organizes burgeoning enrollment in recreational activities; cuts grass; plows snow; and maintains all county buildings.

Derek Stamey, PRFM Director, also expressed a need for additional staff to keep up with increased demand for services. Programs offered by the department are self-sustaining. To cover the cost of distributing the thrice annual program guide, the department sells advertising and sponsorships. This is a great way to support public recreation in Goochland and get the word out about a business or organization. Visit the department’s tab on the county website for more information.

Our supervisors will need to decide in the coming weeks exactly how tax dollars will be allocated in the next fiscal year, and beyond. Most departments are nearing a threshold where additional employees are needed to ensure acceptable levels of service. People are vital, yet expensive, to the success of any organization. They must find the sweet spot of adequate staffing supported by available funding.