Tuesday, July 26, 2016

On to the future

While the nation wonders and worried who will be running the country next year, we know who will lead Goochland.

John Budesky, whose first official day on the job will be August 1, was sworn in as county administrator on July 5. Dr. Jeremey Raley, who started work at superintendent of schools on July 11, took his oath of office on June 29. Both men bring a high degree of skill and experience to their new posts and have pledged to continue and expand upon the good works of their predecessors.

Filling chief executive officer positions is a delicate task. The county and school division have been ably steered by County Attorney Norman Sales, acting as interim county administrator, and Dr. Steve Geyer, as interim superintendent. Interregnums provide a useful circuit breaker period between the old and new, but must not last too long.

Goochland is a far different place than it was seven years ago, when we last hired a county administrator, and not quite four years ago when the top school job changed hands. There was dysfunction, distrust, and dismay galore then. Thanks to a lot of very hard work and total regime change, things are on track.

Today, cautious optimism about the economy has brought modest residential growth and new commercial development to the east end. Property values, though not quite back to 2009 levels, are rising.

Thanks to careful budgeting and streamlining operations, Goochland ended the past few fiscal years with generous surpluses. For the last two years, revenues rose enough to make retention of the 53 cent per $100 of valuation represent a slight tax increase.
The challenges today are different, but not gone. Budesky and Raley will need to deal with the fallout from state revenue shortfalls that will inevitably trickle down to Goochland. They will each have to replace linchpins in their organizations.

John Wack resigned as deputy county administrator for financial affairs to take a post in Richmond. He deserves our thanks for his part in transforming the county’s murky financial system into an example for others to follow. We wish him happiness and success in his new job—the city has great need of his expertise.

Dr. Peter Gretz, Assistant Superintendent of Schools for Business Operations, who has taken the job of superintendent of Middlesex County Schools will also be missed. His gentle leadership was a beacon during dark times and wind in the sails of Goochland Schools as they moved forward on the right course.

Attention to fiscal matters—money does make the world go ‘round—is the foundation of good stewardship of tax dollars, which is, in turn, justification for trust in government all levels.

Budesky and Raley, who have lots of experience in budgeting and financial matters, undoubtedly have the skill and experience to do their new jobs well. Coming to the county simultaneously provides an opportunity to bond as they acclimate to a new place, and continue the cordial collaboration between county and schools that makes so many things possible.

Best of all, remarks each gave as they were introduced to the county, seemed to indicate that they “get” Goochland. There’s something Janus-like about the county as we try to harmonize rural and urban, newcomer and old-timers, into the very special place we call home. Not everyone understands the mandate to strike a delicate balance between the two.

By setting clear goals and crafting strategic plans, our supervisors and school board built a solid operational foundation that made orderly and seamless leadership transition possible. We don’t know what tomorrow will bring. The hands that guide the tiller of Goochland County are ready and able to steer a careful course through the mine field of future challenges.

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