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?

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