Thursday, June 4, 2015

Past and future perfect

District 4 Supervisors Bob Minnick and "Oilville 1938"

The agenda of the June 2 meeting of the Goochland County Board of Supervisors was replete with accomplishment.

At the start of the evening session, local artist Patti Rosner dedicated her painting of Goochland Villages to the county. After a brief address by Rosner, who expressed her gratitude to those who shared their memories of Goochland past, her family, and the community, the meeting moved to the foyer of the administration building. There the supervisors unveiled the paintings of scenes in their respective districts. The paintings will be on permanent display for all to enjoy. Rosner gave checks from the proceeds of the project to the Goochland Free Clinic and Family Services and the Goochland County Historical Society

During the afternoon session, the staff of the utilities department was recognized for winning the Virginia Rural Water Association’s Wastewater System of the Year award for 2015. This organization is for rural system w with fewer than 10,000 customers. Department of Public Utilities Director Todd Kilduff and his “small but mighty staff”: Matt Longshore, Mark Wilds, David McDowell, Gerry Langfit, and Ashlea Thedieck were commended for their hard work, innovation, and ingenuity.

Board Chair Susan Lascolette, District 1 said”...your high energy, customer focus, and innovation are really a model for how we want government to work. We are proud of you. Good job.”

Completion of the utility master plan identified probable causes of the “smelly water” issue plaguing TCSD customers and offered relatively simple and cost effective solutions. The supervisors appropriated funds to install a chloramine injection station and control valve vault in the near future.

Remember that, in all too recent memory, Goochland County utility customer records were vague at best, billings were somewhat arbitrary, uncashed checks sat in drawers for months, and even the location of the trunk lines in the Tuckahoe Creek Service District was a mystery. There was a geyser of raw sewage on posh River Road, and hundreds of gallons of water, bought from Henrico, were dumped on the ground in a vain attempt to combat staleness.

Beth Moore, chair of the Friends of Goochland Parks, a 501 (c) 3 non-profit organization, talked about developments at Tucker Park at Maidens Crossing, one of the very few public access points on the James River in Goochland. Moore commended District 3 Supervisor Ned Creasey for starting discussions with the Tucker Family that led to the county’s purchase of 36 acres with 1200 feet of river bank on both sides of Rt. 522 for use as a park.

Thanks to monetary and in-kind donations from local businesses, Tucker Park now has handicapped accessible parking, a mile long trail along the river and a paved performance stage thanks to the CarMax Foundation. Moore said that the vision of Don Charles, the late county director of community development, helped make Tucker Park a reality. To honor his contribution, the Friends are seeking donations to plant 15 sycamores around the performance stage. A $50 donation will plant one tree.
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Perhaps the most important accomplishment discussed at the meeting was the projection/estimate of general fund revenues and expenditures through April 30. After the end of the current fiscal year, which ends on June 30, the actual numbers will be finalized. John Wack, Deputy County Administrator for Finance estimated that there will be an operating surplus of $6.49 million, while other jurisdictions in the area are wringing their hands over shortfalls and contemplating tax rate hikes.

In addition to careful use of budgeted funds, the surplus includes savings from lower fuel costs, and bank stock taxes of $1.67 million more than anticipated.

The annual budget process includes a “look ahead” feature to anticipate future costs. Items from this list are prioritized to use surpluses.

This year’s list includes some capital expenditures for the schools, which will reduce the need to borrow. Also included are up to an additional $200,000 to build, and $50,000 to furnish, the new Company 6 fire-rescue station in Hadensville, whose completion is expected in about a year. Complications arising out of the punitive storm water regulations imposed last year and prices increases account for the increase. Hopefully, this steep and expensive learning curve for building this type of facility will result in savings on similar projects in the future.

Surplus funds were also allocated for a new animal shelter, a canoe ramp at Tucker Park, a replacement ambulance, economic development, and a reserve for the fiscal 2017 budget. The complete list is in the June 2 Board packet, available on the county website at

After some discussion, the supervisors postponed referring a proposed zoning amendment to allow drive through businesses “by right” in areas zoned B-1, M-1, and M-2. A conditional use permit would still be required for B-2 zoning. As most of the land in Centerville contemplated for commercial development is zoned B-1, the proposed change could have a significant impact on the kind of enterprises permitted there.

Given the extensive push back over the McDonald’s and Taco Bell, District 4 Supervisor Bob Minnick contended that holding a community meeting to gather public input on the matter before referring the change to the planning commission is prudent. The other board members concurred.
This is a sticky wicket. On the one hand, the county needs all the commerce it can get. On the other, how many drive through burger doodles is too many? Would the opponents to McDonald’s and Taco Bell have been as vocal about a Starbucks or a big box pharmacy?

Lascolette said that citizen engagement is vital to the success of local government and that she and her fellow supervisors want to hear from their constituents. Be careful what you wish for Madame Chair!

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