Sunday, February 7, 2016

February Board Highlights

At its regular monthly meeting on February 2, Goochland’s Board of Supervisors approved a rezoning for 10.75 acres in West Creek, south of Broad Street Road east of the entrance to the Notch from M-1(industrial, limited) to B-1(business, general.)

Construction of a four story hotel and neighborhood businesses, which could include a bank and restaurant, is anticipated. The “brand” of the expected hotel had not been determined said Thomas Pruitt, speaking on behalf of West Creek Associates XC, LLC. The hotel will enable Goochland to reap collateral economic benefits from soccer tournaments and other annual events that now go to Henrico. Pruitt said that a second access point to the Notch will be built before it is required by traffic counts. Timing of additional access roads depends on the rate of development.

Marshal Wynne of VDOT said that the road crews were hampered in their plowing efforts by the high winds and swift accumulations of snow from the January 22 and 23 storm. Ten trucks were stuck on Interstate 64 on Saturday, January 23in drifts up to four feet high and some broke down. Supplemental contractors were hired to complete the process. One thousand tons of salt and 1,500 tons of abrasives were spread on area roads, said Wynn.

D. E. “Eddie” Ferguson, Jr., Goochland Fire-Rescue Deputy Chief for EMS reported that fire and rescue crews worked diligently to respond to calls during the storm. All apparatus dispatched during the storm traveled with a four-wheel drive vehicle to assist with adverse conditions. Ferguson mentioned ingenuity of the responders who sometimes used Stokes Basket stretchers as sleds to transport patients from homes to ambulances waiting on the road.

Stokes Basket stretcher

Let’s hope we’ve had our big snowfall for the year.

County assessor Mary Ann Davis reported that the real estate valuation for calendar year 2015 was $4.53 billion, an increase of 4.3 percent, but still below the 2009 high of $4.72 billion. Statements of the 2015 assessment were mailed on January 15. Fair market values for property in the Tuckahoe Creek Service District (TCSD) rose 15.37 percent to $931 million, which is higher than indicated in third quarter projections. Land use assessments were up by 6.27 percent to $569 million.

The increase in TCSD values sparked a discussion about the use of higher than expected revenues going forward. John Wack, Deputy County Administrator for Finance, presented various options for disbursement of the increased revenues.

At the new values, the revenue generated by one cent of ad valorem tax seems to be $95 thousand dollars. Dropping this tax a penny or two may seem to be a minor adjustment, it has been a sore spot with homeowners in the TCSD. For a while, it seemed like the ad valorem tax was on an ever upward trajectory. After the TCSD debt was restructured the supervisors decided to keep it at the current 32 cent rate for the foreseeable future. The upward spike in revenues, however, reopened the discussion to reduce the tax.

Ken Peterson, District 5, who engineered the debt restructuring that pulled Goochland back from its own fiscal cliff, cautioned against spending what could be a short term windfall. He and Wack pointed out that while this year’s valuations were higher than expected, the TCSD debt service obligation increases 9 to 9.5 per cent per year for the next two years. Just to stay even the TCSD must have new growth of five percent per year.
This county painted itself into a pretty tight corner and we found a way out of it, now we’re looking at going back,” said Peterson. “We need $100 million increase very year to stay even with the growth of the debt obligation.”

Minnick said that there is pressure for the ad valorem tax to decline as commercial growth kicks in contributing to TCSD revenue. He expects pressure from property owners to reduce the ad valorem tax in the face of increased revenues. He advocated “drilling down into the numbers” further to make sure that the county has a good stable outlook to make sure that it makes sense to reduce the ad valorem tax.

Wack pointed out that the Board has time to consider its options, because, on March 2, they will vote to advertise the maximum tax rates, which could be reduced when adopted in April.
(To hear the complete discussion, go to the livestream tab on the county website listen toward the end of parts 2 and 3 for February 2.)

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