Wednesday, January 7, 2015

A new year

Madame Chair Susan Lascolette and Vice Chair Bob Minnick

Goochland County’s supervisors began 2015 with its organizational meeting on January 6, following an invocation delivered by Dr. Jeffrey Spence, who reminded the supervisors of their role as servant leaders and their duty to the citizens.

The supervisors unanimously elected Susan Lascolette, District 1 as chair and Bob Minnick, District 4, as vice chair. This continues the practice of rotating board leadership among the districts.

Lascolette, who asked to be addressed as “Madame Chair,” made history as the first woman to lead the board. That followed the historic election last January of Manuel Alvarez, Jr., District 2, a native of Cuba, as the first supervisor of Hispanic descent.

Gender and national origin issues aside, this board shares the belief that its primary duty is to serve the citizens.

County Administrator Rebecca Dickson and Lascolette thanked Alvarez for his hard work during 2014. Lascolette pledged her full commitment to her duties, looks forward to working with Minnick and the rest of the board. She reaffirmed the board’s commitment to core values, especially fiscal responsibility, honesty, integrity, courage, stewardship, and protection of property rights and limited government.

“We’re still a team of five people with unique skills, insights and talents. We’ve done some pretty amazing things and that will not change. Good government depends entirely on the people. Goochland is blessed to have people who volunteer at every level and highest voter turnout. That is our strength.”

Dickson presented Lascolette with a Patti Rosner painting of Hadensville to commemorate the occasion.

The supervisors then adopted its rules of procedure, which was amended to include a policy for allowing members to electronically participate in meetings; code of ethics, and standard of conduct. See the board packet on the supervisors’ section of the county website: for details.

Tasks for the New Year include crafting the county budget for fiscal year 2015, which begins on July 1. To that end, the supervisors have scheduled budget workshops that provide an opportunity for the supervisors to discuss fiscal issues with all county departments. The first workshop will be an all-day session on January 21, which is open to the public. Others are planned for February with an expected adoption of tax rates for calendar year 2015 in April.

Goochland’s Department of Parks, Recreation, and Facilities Management was recognized by the Virginia Recreation and Parks Society with two awards for facilities development.

Leakes Mill Park, comprised of 167 acres three miles west of Courthouse Village on the south side of Route 6, was recognized as the best new facility in the under 25,000 population category for 2013. The initial phase of this park features asphalt parking, two irrigated multi-purpose athletic fields, two playgrounds and a 1.6 mile trail to the eponymous mill.

Renovations of the Goochland Sports Complex—the fields and gyms behind the administration building-- were recognized as “Best new renovation/addition for parks, playgrounds, trails, and greenways” in the under 25,000 population category. County Administrator Rebecca Dickson said that these awards are the result of Derek Stamey, Director of Parks, Recreation, and Facilities Management and his staff. The projects were funded with a unique mix of public and private funds that included naming rights. Last, but not least, thanks to Stamey and his team for everything involved in the community Christmas tree! (Putting it up will be easier next year!!)

Goochland Assessor Mary Ann Davis reported that property valuation in Goochland as of January 1, 2015 rose 3.4 percent over last year or a county wide total of $4.35 billion. The commercial/residential breakdown is 17.4/82.6 percent. Davis said that individual assessment notices will be mailed on January 15 and landowners have until February 17 to appeal.

Representatives from Louisa and Charles City County and Design 9, a broadband consulting firm, reported on strategies used elsewhere in pursuit of widespread deployment of high speed internet in rural areas.

The Board authorized Dickson to execute and agreement with Henrico County allowing it to collocate communications equipment to link the Cobbs Creek reservoir in Cumberland County with Henrico. The massive reservoir project will help to control flooding on the James River and ensure an adequate water supply. As much of the municipal water used by Goochland is supplied by Henrico, the colocation is seen as mutually beneficial. There will be no cost to Goochland.

Dickson also got authority to execute the construction contract for the new Hadensville Company 6 fire-rescue station. Construction is expected to begin later this year, with completion sometime in 2016. This marks the first time that Goochland County has built a fire-rescue station.
A project that will demolish the existing Rivergate pump station and replace it with a gravity system was also authorized. Existing pumps will be reused elsewhere in the county utility system.

To close out the afternoon session, the supervisors took a look at the capital improvements plan for fiscal years 2016 to 2020. Projects that may be included in the CIP are: a new elementary school; a new courthouse; three new fire-rescue stations; park improvements; a ladder truck; ambulance replacement; and an extension of Fairground Road. These items, and others included in the CIP will be explained and discussed at the spring round of town meetings.

The Board is committed to a debt service ratio as a portion of total expenditure of no more than 10 percent. It will carefully examine and prioritize all expenditures to ensure the fiscal soundness of the county.

Collaboration among the supervisors, county staff, and citizens bode well for 2015. May goals be achieved or exceeded and the year filled with good surprises.

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