Goochland County’s February 7 monthly Board of Supervisors’ meeting addressed routine matters and seasonal issues. (Please note that land use changes, including rezoning and issuance of conditional use permits, as well as ordinance amendments that require public hearings are held during the evening sessions, which begin at 7 p.m. Meetings take place in county administration building at 1800 Sandy Hook Road in Courthouse Village.)
Fire-Rescue Chief Bill MacKay said that the Virginia Department of Forestry ban on outdoor burning before 4 p.m. begins on February 15 and runs until April 30. Given the current dry and windy conditions that easily spark brush fires, take great care with all outdoor burning. Visit http://www.dof.virginia.gov/laws/outdoor-fire-laws.htm for complete information, including fines and penalties that apply to violations.
Robin Lind, Sectary of the Goochland Electoral Board reported that there was a 19.7 percent turnout for the January 10 special election to fill the 22nd state senate seat vacated by Tom Garrett, who was elected to the United States Congress last year. By contrast, the turn out for the November 2016 general election was 85.2 percent, once again placing Goochland County first in the Commonwealth.
In anticipation of high voter interest in the January election, contested by three candidates, Lind said that the number of ballots ordered by Goochland was ultimately four thousand at a cost of 22 cents per ballot. The cost of the special election to Goochland County was $18,257, or $5.54 per vote.
Lind commended Director of Elections, Frances C. Ragland for her diligent attention to the needs of the January election. Lynchburg precincts, Lind noted, ran out of ballots by 9 a.m.
Three elections will take place in 2017, the special election on January 10; a primary in June; and the general election in November.
Jonathan Lyle, Director of the Monacan Soil and Water Conservation District, thanked the Board for its support of the MSWCD. He said that he is eager to supply the county with information to justify the fiscal support that it may choose to provide the MSWCD to ensure an adequate return on investment of tax dollars. Signs like this indicate that farmers are protecting water quality by fencing livestock out of streams.
Lyle reported that 41 local farmers have taken advantage of the livestock exclusion program, which helps finance fencing to keep livestock out of streams. This improves water quality and supports efforts to clean up the Chesapeake Bay. Signs, funded by grants, indicating participation are deployed at these farms.
Board Chair Ned Creasey, District 3, announced the spring town hall meeting schedule for March. Districts 2 and 3 will meet at the Central High School Educational and Cultural Center on March 21. District 4 and 5 will meet at the Hermitage Country Club on March 23, and District 1 will meet at the new Hadensville Company 6 Fire-Rescue Station on March 30. All meetings begin at 7 p.m.
County administrator John Budesky said that the process to craft the county budget for fiscal year 2018, which begins on July 1, is well underway. The Board will hold two work sessions on February 21 and 28 at 3 p.m. which are open to the public. Budesky welcomed all citizen input on budgetary matters, either at these meetings, by phone, email, or in person.
The supervisors authorized a public hearing for their March 7 meeting to consider a short-term lease of the “academy” building on River Road West to Goochland Free Clinic and Family Services. This will provide temporary office and food bank space for GFCFS while its new facility is built.
Todd Kilduff, Assistant County Administrator, presented the annual update on activity in the Community Development and Utilities Department. He said that an upgrade to the Department of Corrections water system will add significant water capacity to the Courthouse Village utility system and a modest boost in wastewater (sewer) capacity there.
County Assessor Mary Ann Davis presented a summary of changes in land values for 2017. The total taxable land value increased 3.4 percent to $4.7 billion; of that, 1.2 percent is new construction. Fair market value in the Tuckahoe Creek Service District rose 2.9 percent to $958 million. Land use assessments declined .66 percent to $565 million.
Reassessment notices based on the fair market value as of January 1, 2017 were mailed on January 13. Property owners have until February 15 to file an appeal. The assessor’s office can be reached at 804.556.5853 for additional information.
Director of Financial Services Barbara Horlacher presented second quarter general fund projection and budget amendments. So far, the revenues for FY2017 are estimated to be $51 million, $3.8 million over budget, including $1.2 million in anticipated bank stock taxes, which are used for one time capital expenditures. Operating expenditures are forecast to be $1.6 million below budget. Despite some health insurance costs and fees and bank fees that came in over budget, the overall revenues for FY 2017 are projected, at this time, to exceed expenditures by approximately $3.8 million.
Qiana Foote, Director of Information Technology presented updates on the Public Safety Radio project and replacement of the county and schools’ financial reporting system. (Details are included in the Board meeting packet, available under the supervisors’ tab on the county website: http://goochlandva.us/)
The supervisors voted to “scratch” an ordinance about sawmills addressed at their January meeting and referred a revised ordinance to the Planning Commission for consideration.
Administrative Services Manager Paul Drumwright updated the Board on legislation of interest to the county making its way through the Virginia General Assembly.
No legislation was presented addressing transportation of sludge/biosolids, or to amend the vague law passed last year about proffers.
Bills dealing with expansion of broadband, which seemed designed to hobble, rather than encourage, innovative approaches to deploy broadband service in underserved areas were put forth by several legislators.
One, that essentially removed any local oversight on location or regulation of towers, died. Another, which was amended several times until its most objectionable language had been removed, “crossed over” to the senate.
Short term rentals (Airbnb) were addressed in several bills that sought to create mechanisms for localities to collect some lodging taxes and provide notification of the location of the facilities being rented out.
Reform of the certificate of public need made no progress. Drumwright said he believed that the General Assembly was hesitant to act on this before the U. S. Congress addresses health care.
An increase in the share of Fire Programs funds to be allocated to localities for improvement of volunteer and career fire services from 75 to 80 percent with a delayed effective date of January 1, 2018, was passed by the House and is in the Senate.
A bill to permit EMS personnel to administer glucagon died in the Senate.
A bill regulating land surveyor photogrammetrists was passed by the house, but must be reenacted in the 2018 session.
Budesky thanked Drumwright, staff, and the supervisors who have been keeping tabs on our state legislators.