Supervisors approve “confusing” capital improvement plan

By Susan Gibbs

Supervisors' Chairman Jim Frydl

Late last month Greene’s supervisors approved a capital improvement plan that contains, according to information in the panel’s packet, inaccuracies, confusing documentation, and some incomplete parts.

The action, which took place at the Board’s regularly scheduled meeting Tuesday, February 26, was done prior to the onset of budget workshops, which began this week.

Reached by phone after the meeting, Board Chairman Jim Frydl explained: “The list does not prioritize anything, and some things are counted twice. It’s not a great working document yet, but it meets the state requirements.”

Just a few of the things listed on the CIP are: a $15 million community center at the community park, a new building for the rescue squad; an extension for the sheriff’s office, along with generators, a new communications system, a firing range and a sports utility vehicle; at least one new truck and equipment for fire departments;  a high speed internet upgrade for the entire county, a million dollars for land for special events and an expansion of the industrial park called for by the economic development authority; and a $1 million communications system and more security for the public school district.

In addition, the Ruckersville Elementary School needs an addition, the William Monroe cafeteria needs enlarging, paving work is needed around the schools, the sheriff’s office and the vehicle maintenance facility, roof work is needed on several county buildings and there’s a $40 million water impoundment facility to be built.

The CIP is a multi-year production and scheduling of capital projects with an appropriate financing plan to fund these projects. It identifies projects for all department for which funding has already been committed or is being sought for some time within a five-year period.

According to the Code of Virginia § 15.2-2239, local planning commissions may, at the direction of the governing body, prepare and revise annually a capital improvement program based on the comprehensive plan of the locality for a period not to exceed the ensuing five years.

The plan, the Code of Virginia continues, shall include estimates of cost of the facilities and life cycle costs, including any road improvement and any transportation improvement the locality chooses to include as provided in the comprehensive plan.

According to the Virginia chapter of the American Planning Association, proffers should be included in the CIP as well, and can be used to offset expenses for needs outlined in the comprehensive plan.

Greene’s updated comprehensive plan was approved by supervisors in June 2010, and was written by the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission in conjunction with The Renaissance Group and the county’s planning department.

That approval followed a series of focus groups – which Greene County Zoning Administrator Bart Svoboda likened to town meetings – run by TJPDC and the Renaissance Group.

Prior to that, the county’s capital improvement plan was produced by the Planning and Zoning Department – a document that supervisors have, in the past, referred to as a “wish list” to be used as a tool to calculate a cash proffer amount.

And then two years ago, according to documents that were contained in the Board’s February 26 packet, the county planning staff – which consists of Zoning Administrator Bart Svoboda and his planner, Stephanie Golon – furnished supervisors with a document developed for Massachusetts communities that provided step-by-step directions for planning the capital budget and capital program.

But this “blueprint” never became a solid agenda for departments and lacked financial analysis or recommendations.

When the Greene County Planning Commission recommended approval of a capital improvement plan for the coming fiscal year – and the next four – on January 16 of this year, they did so with the concerns noted at the beginning of this article. In light of those things, commissioners recommended that a five-person committee be formed to produce a true CIP.

That committee is to consist of a finance department member, a planning staff member, a planning commissioner, a supervisor, and a citizen.

According to information contained in the Board’s packet, this process is to begin at the initiation of a county administrator.

This process shall begin at the initiation of a county administrator.

However, Frydl said in the telephone interview that followed the meeting, “I don’t know for certain that we are going to have a panel.”

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