Thursday, December 3, 2015

Year end

Pay taxes here^

Goochland real estate and personal property taxes are due by December 7. If you pay in person, be warned that the Treasurer’s Office has been transformed into Whoville for the holidays.

The final Goochland Board of Supervisors’ meeting for 2015 was highlighted by yet another almost immaculate financial report as the county’s auditor, PBMares, presented the certified annual financial report(CAFR)for fiscal 2015, which ended on June 30.

One material weakness was identified. The county Department of Social Services was unable to redetermine eligibility for Medicaid recipients every 12 months as required by law. In addition to high staff turnover, the state computer system used to process Medicaid is plagued by outages and slowness resulting in a significant backlog statewide, according to a draft report issued by the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission (JLARC) on the matter.

Kimberly Jefferson, County Director of Social Services explained that even when her department is fully staffed, problems with the state computer system can take weeks to resolve exacerbating the backlog.

The supervisors on the audit committee, Ken Peterson, District 5; Board Chair Susan Lascolette, District 1; and Manuel Alvarez, Jr. District 2 wanted to provide whatever assistance Jefferson needs to resolve the situation. They expressed concern that people might slip through the cracks and receive benefits for which they are not eligible.

Jefferson reported that her department is slowly making headway against the backlog, but that could stop if the state system, which is totally out of her control, gets worse.

Peterson, Lascolette, and Alvarez said they will discuss the urgency of the situation to Goochland’s General Assembly delegation in hope of expediting a remedy at the state level.

Mike Garber, PBMares partner overseeing the Goochland audit, said that the dollar impact on the audit is zero. “It’s a statewide issue that is frustrating on the local level.”

Otherwise, Goochland’s CAFR, said Garber, is fantastic. One big change from past years is a new requirement to include pension liabilities in the report. (For those insomniacs out there, the CAFR is on the county website under finance in all its glory.)

Lascolette commended County Registrar Frances Ragland and the Electoral Board: Robin Lind, Bes Stewart, and Wanda Taylor for another round of well-run elections.

Details of performance agreements for the Hardywood Park Craft Brewery facility in West Creek were explained. The Brewery agreed, within the next five years, to create and maintain 56 new jobs and invest up to $28,250,000.

State incentives include: $500,000 from the Commonwealth Opportunity Fund; $250,000 from the Agriculture and Forestry Industry Development Fund; and $477,000 in sales and use tax exemptions. Goochland County will provide the lesser of $1 million or ten years of tax rebates. From 2017 through 2020 Goochland will rebate 100 percent of incremental real estate taxes for values above the January 1, 2016 assessed valuation; machinery and tools taxes; and business personal property taxes. From 2012 through 2026, the rebased will be 50 percent until the threshold is reached.

The county retain all ad valorem taxes; utility connection fees; building permit fees; personal property taxes on vehicles; and business and sales taxes. If the Brewery fails to live up to its part of the bargain, proportional amounts must be repaid to the state and the local match will be voided.

(As part of their ongoing commitment to governmental transparency, the supervisors included the entire agreement in their December 1 board packet. Be sure to see the schedule enumerating the amount of locally grown agricultural products expected to be used by the Brewery in beer production.)

During the evening comment period, Jonathan Lyle, one of Goochland’s Monacan Soil and Water Conservation Directors, applauded the county’s support for the new brewery. However, as a voice for the agricultural community, Lyle reminded the board that the number of farms in Goochland is declining and could use county support as well. He cautioned that, come budget season, the MWSCD will be asking Goochland for funding on a par with Powhatan. That, said Lyle, will be approximately $126 per farm per year.

Lyle has a very good point. Everyone says they want to preserve Goochland’s rural character. Rural means agriculture, which means real farms in all of their messy, noisy, and smelly glory. This often conflicts with newcomers’ theme park notion of agriculture.

The Board unanimously approved supplemental school budget appropriations and categorical transfers. This will increase the School Operating fund from $26,861,674 to $27,126,861. These amounts include just $10,000 of appropriated turn-back funds, which was approved by the supervisors in November. See Board packet for complete details.

The County Administrator was authorized to execute a $25,000 purchase order with Harbor Dredge and Dock to build a kayak and canoe launch at Tucker Park. This will be built between January and March of next year to take advantage of off season construction costs and be ready for use in the spring.



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