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|Board of Supervisor Members Present:||Fitzgerald A. Barnes, Dan W. Byers, Willie L. Gentry, Jr., Willie L. Harper, Richard A. Havasy, P.T. Spencer, Jr. and Jack T. Wright|
|School Board Members Present:||Stephen C. Harris, Brian M. Huffman, Harold A. Schaffer, Billy A. Seay, Sherman T. Shifflett and Gregory V. Strickland|
|School Board Members Absent:||Gail O. Proffitt|
|Others Present:||C. Lee Lintecum, County Administrator; Ernie McLeod, Deputy County Administrator; Dale Mullen, County Attorney; Amanda Reidelbach, Office Manager, Administration; Alyson Simpson, Acting Deputy Clerk; Brittany Spaur, Records Clerk; Dr. Deborah Pettit, School Superintendent; Ralph Moore, Assistant Superintendent for Administration; Dr. S. Dallas Dance, Assistant Superintendent for Instruction; Halsey Green, Director of Finance (LCPS); Becky Fisher, School Board Clerk; David Szalankiewicz, Director of Facilities (LCPS) and Jack Clark, Architect with Rancorn Wildman Architects, PLC|
CALL TO ORDER
Chairman Harper called the September 29, 2008 meeting of the Louisa County Board of Supervisors to order at 6:00 p.m.
SCHOOL BOARD CALL TO ORDER
Chairman Schaffer called the September 29, 2008 meeting of the Louisa County School Board to order at 6:00 p.m.
Mr. Barnes stated he wanted to applaud the Parks and Recreation Department for preparing and providing dinner for this meeting.
Discussion Moss-Nuckols Elementary School
Mr. Harper said the School Board had requested to come before the Board to make a presentation on the proposed Moss-Nuckols Elementary School.
Dr. Deborah Pettit asked the members to look at the cost review and projections that had been submitted while she presented a picture and floor plan of the proposed school. Dr. Pettit stated the School Board had worked very diligently with the architect, Rancorn Wildman Architects, PLC, to come up with a school in the allowable price range and the School Board is very pleased with the design. Dr. Pettit said the School Board would continue to be diligent during the construction of the school to ensure that there are very few changes and they anticipate few changes because this school has already been constructed twice. Dr. Pettit stated if all the money was not used for the construction of the school, it was to be returned to the County.
Dr. Pettit referred to the cost review and projection sheet and said the architect has qualified Loughridge Construction Company and the base bid was presented at $12, 952,000. Dr. Pettit stated their allowances were broken down as well. Dr. Pettit said there were also additional items that were not included in the contract, but had been listed in the total price because the School Board wanted to present the total price of what it would take to build this school “turn-key.” Dr. Pettit stated $16.4 million was the total price that it would take to build the best school possible at the best price possible.
Mr. Gentry stated he would like to make a motion to allocate the $16.4 million for construction of the school. Mr. Barnes seconded the motion.
Mr. Spencer asked if the money for the playgrounds and ball fields was included in the total price. Dr. Pettit said the money was not in the total price. Dr. Pettit stated the School Board would be doing part of the playground and there was money in the Boards CIP for construction of the ball fields through Parks and Recreation.
Mr. Jack Clark said there would be two ball fields at the proposed school. Mr. Clark stated one will be a softball/little league size field and one will be a soccer field, both of which will be constructed by Loughridge as part of the construction process. Mr. Clark said the fields would be put in, graded, and seeded. Mr. Clark stated there would be no irrigation or anything else included as part of those fields.
Mr. Spencer wanted to clarify that $16,407,365 would be the total for everything. Mr. Spencer wanted to make sure there would be no need to come back and ask for another couple million dollars. Dr. Pettit said that amount was the total price. Dr. Pettit stated she was certifying that statement in front of the entire School Board and the architect.
Mr. Spencer said he thought the proposed school looked fantastic and thanked everyone for their work.
Mr. Barnes stated he had worked with the architect in the past, but there were no conflicts of interest to keep him from voting.
Mr. Byers said he felt he could support the amount being presented for several reasons. Mr. Byers said there are some amounts being presented that are not necessarily fixed and there is an opportunity for some of the monies to come back to the County. Mr. Byers stated he appreciates that the architect is using due diligence to make sure that money is not spent when it doesnt have to be. Mr. Byers said during hard economic times, the County would need to look at every dime spent to make sure it is being used as wisely as it possibly can.
Mr. Harper asked Mr. Gentry if the proposed resolution is the resolution that he intended to approve. Mr. Gentry said he did not need all the detail in the resolution and he had simply motioned for the $16.4 million allocation. Mr. Harper asked Mr. Lintecum to make sure that was accomplished.
Mr. Harold Shaffer said the only change should be the word appropriation rather than allocation. Mr. Lintecum stated the resolution would be redone to include the word appropriation.
Mr. Gentry said it was his opinion that what was done on October 15, 2007 is already on the record and there is no need to repeat it.
Mr. Spencer said since this school is being built on shrink-swell soil, he wanted to know what kind of warranty would be included in case the building starts to fall apart.
Mr. Clark said the architect firm had done two things to deal with the shrink-swell soil on the property. Mr. Clark said the school building would be built on extra deep footers, about two feet deeper than what would normally be on a site like this one. Mr. Clark said there are two adjacent out buildings on the property, one for water treatment and one for sewage treatment, both of which have a drainage system around them. Mr. Clark said, warranty-wise, its for the life of the building with the measures that have been taken as long as the drain fields are maintained properly.
Mr. Byers said he had heard stories in other areas where new buildings were built and there were problems with the roof design and the architect and contractors walked away and the counties ended up absorbing the maintenance costs. Mr. Byers asked what assurances the County would have when it comes to a long-term warranty.
Mr. Clark said there would be two roof systems on the proposed school. Mr. Clark stated 80 to 85 percent would be a sloped metal roof and the remaining portion would be a low-slope 90-mil EPM roof. Mr. Clark said both of those roof systems require a 20-year warranty. Mr. Clark stated that the companies behind the 20-year warranty would provide the materials for construction.
Mr. Byers asked if there was some type of surety bond that ensures that the warranty will stay in effect for 20 years. Mr. Clark said whatever is provided from the manufacturer is what will be provided to the School Board. Mr. Wright said a surety bond would not include the warranty because the County would have to pay premiums on that for 20 years.
Mr. Byers asked if the general contractor would be held liable. Mr. Wright said the general contractor would be responsible for getting the warranty.
Mr. Schaffer asked if the motion on the table could be restated. Mr. Gentry said he motioned to appropriate the $16.4 million. Mr. Barnes re-seconded the motion.
On motion of Mr. Gentry, seconded by Mr. Barnes, which carried by a vote of 7-0, the Board voted to approve a resolution appropriating $16,407,365 to the Louisa County Public Schools for the construction of the Moss-Nuckols Elementary School.
*The School Board adjourned their meeting to reconvene in a separate meeting room.
*The Board of Supervisors also moved their meeting to a separate meeting room.
Discussion FY10 Budget Preview
Mr. Ernie McLeod stated that looking at the FY10 budget is going to be tough as there are cuts coming from the State and it has not been determined how they will affect the County. Mr. McLeod said most likely it would affect Constitutional Officers the same way the $50 million cut did in FY09.
Mr. McLeod said assessments are currently not complete, but this was his estimate based on conversations with others. Mr. McLeod said housing assessments, not values, are expected to go down 5 to 9 percent, but raw land will stay flat. Mr. McLeod stated that commercial values should have an increase. Mr. McLeod said the Treasurer collected $770,000 in delinquent taxes in FY08. Mr. McLeod said the collection rate is currently budgeted at 94%. Mr. McLeod said Ms. Gloria Layne presented a document showing a combined 96% collection rate in FY08, which includes Public Services that should always be close to 100%.
Mr. McLeod said any new construction is prorated, which is a good thing. Mr. McLeod said even if it is constructed in the middle of the year, the County still gets some collections.
Mr. McLeod said the sales ratio for Public Services in FY09 is 98.4% and he suggested using 98% for FY10, although he hoped it would be higher.
Mr. McLeod said personal property continues to go up. Mr. McLeod said people continue to move in the County and there are people who buy and upgrade their personal property. Mr. McLeod said in FY08, the County brought in more than $770,000 over the budget and in FY10, the estimate is it would increase by $275,000. Mr. McLeod said these numbers are based on the amount FY08 brought in, although we do not know about FY09.
Mr. McLeod said interest rates are in the process of lowering and people are not getting as much in interest for their money. Mr. McLeod stated in FY08, the County did bring in more money at $700,000 over budget. Mr. McLeod said, however, the budget would be lowered in FY10 by $275,000 because the rates are so low and he does not see them coming up anytime soon.
Mr. McLeod said he heard that the State could try to shift some of the funding requirements to the County for the school system. Mr. McLeod stated the question is what the States revenue shortfall will do to K-12 for FY10. Mr. McLeod said what he heard is that the effect is going to be minimal, but no one will know until the Governor puts out his budget sometime in December.
Mr. McLeod said the schools operational issues are the salary scale for the teachers and, depending on what the enrollment does, it may force the hiring of new teachers. Mr. McLeod stated without knowing about fuel and diesel, there may need to be increases there as well. Mr. McLeod said the County had switched vendors for the health insurance provider, but due to health care trends, he expects to see an increase in the rates that will hopefully be in the single digits. Mr. McLeod said VRS for the schools might change as well.
Mr. McLeod said the County has our own operational issues. In FY08, the County spent $2 million for CSA and for FY09, the budget is $1.4 million. Mr. McLeod said this is a disconnect to start the year and he expects to talk more about CSA.
Mr. McLeod stated the County was going to 24-hour coverage on Emergency Services with two crews. Mr. McLeod said a third part-time crew would fill in as needed. Mr. McLeod said there is no way to tell what the pressure is going forward to add more crews.
Mr. McLeod said the Sheriffs Department is not asking for any new road deputies, but they are asking for two new dispatchers, which they have not done in a long time. Mr. McLeod stated they are planning to hold the line on overtime and auxiliary police and FY09 will show how well they actually do. Mr. McLeod stated the Sheriff had budgeted for grant matching funds in his CIP last year, which was cut, but it will probably show up in operational again this time. Mr. McLeod said they are still talking about the new operational radio equipment and they need to look into a grant to help out.
Mr. Gentry said there is a breaking point where a department works so many hours of overtime that you have to kick in and hire additional people. Mr. Gentry asked if the Sheriff was approaching from that perspective. Mr. McLeod said he was not sure, but he knows he has told the Sheriff that there will be limited funds and he was not sure how the Board would entertain hiring two new dispatchers. Mr. McLeod said the Sheriff felt the growth in the County was not going increase enough to require new deputies. Mr. McLeod said the Board may need to analyze that to see what the answer is.
Mr. Gentry said last year, the Board saw a lot of overtime and comp time that went on and on, but there is a time when those issues dictate additional people. Mr. Gentry said it doesnt matter about the growth next year because this year should send signals of what will come in the future.
Mr. Wright said the dispatchers had a lot of overtime as he could recall. Mr. McLeod said they did. Mr. Wright said if you add new dispatchers, there should not be any overtime. Mr. McLeod said the County has not added any dispatchers since he started with the County. Mr. Wright said he did not know if any were added because they often change positions. Mr. Wright said he knows of one person who was a dispatcher and is now a deputy and he has no idea what the Sheriffs Department did about his replacement. Mr. Wright said the department changes positions so often, its hard to tell and he believes there was just a supervision change recently, too.
Mr. Harper said it is not realistic to say that there will be no overtime because its not like a factory where one shift goes off and the next shift comes on. Mr. Harper said there may be overrun, but everyone needs to be cautioned not to go over their budgeted amount. Mr. Spencer said overtime should have to be justified.
Mr. McLeod said in capital projects, Moss-Nuckols Elementary had come in at $16.4 million. Mr. McLeod said the County would be applying for funds from the VPSA in Spring 2009 and the first payment would be in FY10. Mr. McLeod said the school was scheduled to be completed in Spring 2010. Mr. Gentry said the construction schedule showed August 2010. Mr. McLeod said construction should be complete in Spring 2010 with August 2010 as the first school year.
Mr. McLeod said the new proposed high school is in the FY09 CIP at $82 million in the out years - FY13. Mr. McLeod said if the County spends $82 million with everything else thats going on in the County with water and sewer, it would raise the tax rate about 20 pennies to cover the debt services.
Mr. Gentry asked if the County had been provided information from the School Board about which project is coming first, the middle or high school. Mr. McLeod stated the middle school was not in last years budget and nothing up to date had been provided to the County as of this time. Mr. McLeod stated it would be a lot cheaper to build a middle school first.
Mr. Gentry said there are still a lot of questions about enrollment projections and until some of those issues are resolved, there is still a big question mark there.
Mr. McLeod said the school system was supposed to provide something to the Planning Commission in July 2008, but theyve not finished it yet.
Mr. Spencer asked about Thomas Jefferson Elementary. Mr. McLeod said Thomas Jefferson Elementary is in the CIP, but it is his understanding that it will not be in the CIP next year because the School Board is taking a closer look at what they need to do to fix the school and do the maintenance on the school to make it work for them.
Mr. Gentry said the School Board currently has two contracts out, one to specifically look at the drainage issue and one to take an overall look at what it would cost to upgrade the electric, etc. Mr. Gentry was hoping the Board would be able to see some numbers from the contracts in a couple months. Mr. McLeod said hopefully the School Board would have numbers around the November or December time period to place this project in the CIP.
Mr. Wright said it should be a lot lower than the $28 million that was mentioned last year.
Mr. Spencer mentioned that with the Moss-Nuckols Elementary School, no new money would be provided for teachers or anything else because the students will be the same students, just being transferred to a new school. Mr. McLeod said we are looking about $1.5 million in additional funds for new teachers and administration. Mr. Spencer clarified that there will be no new money from the state, though. Mr. McLeod said that was correct. Mr. McLeod said there would be no new State money unless there is new enrollment in the school. Mr. McLeod said there may be some new enrollment, but the School Board is trying to get students out of the trailers. Mr. Spencer said the teachers will have to go with them and the State is not going to provide any new money for teachers.
Mr. Harper said he was told there were 60 new students this year, which is equivalent to two positions. Mr. McLeod asked how many new teachers were hired this year. Mr. Gentry said a lot of that depends on how many of those students were special education students. Mr. Havasy said he thought the schools did hire two new special education teachers.
Mr. McLeod stated there are two different wastewater treatment plants. Mr. McLeod said one of the plants is the regional one with the Town and it is currently estimated at $8.2 million with a possible grant amount of $2.7 million and the Town is currently looking at ways to finance the project.
Mr. Gentry asked if half of the $8.7 million was the Countys responsibility. Mr. McLeod answered yes.
Mr. Spencer asked if the County was doing anything to work with the Town. Mr. Lintecum answered yes, the County has met with the Town Mayor and with Brian Marks on a couple of different alternatives. Mr. Lintecum said the Town had the opportunity through the Rural Development to get money at 2.75% and the County can get money at 3.625%. Mr. Lintecum said it makes sense for the Town and County to go together because there are a lot of requirements since it is a federal government program. Mr. Lintecum stated if the Town had to go through the process, the County might as well go through it with them.
Mr. Spencer asked if everything was squared away with the project. Mr. Lintecum answered that the Town and County are still working things out and the Town has a financial advisor checking on it.
Mr. McLeod said last he heard was whether or not the Town could actually qualify for the 2.75%. Mr. Lintecum said if the Town does not qualify for the 2.75%, then its not worth going that route. Mr. McLeod said the financing is still under discussion.
Mr. McLeod said the Zions wastewater treatment plant is estimated at $7.9 million. Mr. McLeod said depending on how the regional plant is financed, the Zion plant could change, but the County is currently planning on borrowing the money to fund the Zion project. Mr. McLeod said the County is currently planning to pay cash for the regional wastewater treatment plant, but if they have to borrow for the regional we could consider paying cash for the Zion plant.
Mr. McLeod stated that another major project was the James River Water Project and the estimate dated September 2, 2008 was for $20 to $22.5 million each. Mr. McLeod said the number is still moving and no one knows exactly what it is. Mr. McLeod said he has heard that the new Water Authority would borrow the funds. Mr. McLeod stated if that were true, then the County would move the CIP funds over to debt services to pay for it.
Mr. Spencer said the County had set aside $13 million for that project. Mr. McLeod stated that was the amount put in the 5-year plan. Mr. McLeod said the County has probably $5 million that is in cash that is not part of the out years. Mr. Spencer said the Board has never voted to go to $20 to $22.5 million. Mr. McLeod said the Board had not necessarily voted on it, but had decided to go down the path with the project and we needed to know what the dollar amount is. Mr. McLeod said the last time the Board looked at it the amount was $35 million, but the amount in the 5-year plan was $13 million because the project was outside that 5-year plan. Mr. Spencer asked if there had to be a vote from the Board to go to $22.5 million. Mr. Lintecum said yes, that this was not a settled issued and there was a process to this. Mr. Gentry said the Board was given an amount of $45 million earlier in this year. Mr. McLeod said that was for the $22.5 million each.
Mr. McLeod stated he would have to go back and look at last years budget because he thought that said the project was somewhere around the $35 million range at that point in time, which was a four-year old estimate. Mr. McLeod said all the dollars were not in the 5-year plan, so it was not voted on at that time.
Mr. Spencer asked if Fluvanna was going to have the money to do their half of the project. Mr. McLeod answered yes, he expects.
Mr. Lintecum said he and Mr. Harper had met with the Fluvanna County Administrator and Board Chairman a week ago and they are supposed to send Louisa a time schedule. Mr. Lintecum said communication was open with Fluvanna and we should have specific answers in the near future.
Mr. Gentry said he read an article in the newspaper that made him wonder if Fluvanna even supported the project. Mr. Lintecum said it was his understanding that Fluvanna staff was supposed to include documentation in a packet that went out and it was never included. Mr. Lintecum said Fluvanna had assured him and Mr. Harper that the project was a go.
Mr. McLeod said a major project for Emergency Services was the interoperability radio equipment and he knows there was talk about a third new ambulance, which will probably be asked for again to help with the third crew.
Mr. McLeod stated for Parks and Recreation projects, the County was taking half of the cost for the playgrounds and ball fields. Mr. McLeod said half the money was put in the FY09 budget and the other half was voted to be put in FY10.
Mr. Spencer said the architect just told everyone that the soccer field and ball field was included in the total amount for the school.
Mr. Gentry said out of the $180,000 there would probably be only $60,000 left after the playgrounds to do soccer fields, etc.
Mr. Spencer said the $180,000 was not included because the actual ball fields were included in the top construction price.
Mr. Wright said the County needed to do something about irrigation on the new fields because without irrigation, there are a lot of problems.
Mr. Gentry said there is money in the Parks and Recreation fund to do the ball fields, but no one is talking about funding for the irrigation situation.
Mr. Wright said if an irrigation system is going to be installed, it should be done all at once instead of going back and tearing up the fields and having to fix them again.
Mr. Gentry said he agrees with Mr. Wright and we need to get someone talking in the direction of the irrigation system or it will miss the vote.
Mr. Wright said he wanted to make sure the irrigation system was done at the same time.
Mr. Harper said he knows that what the architect is doing goes with the age group of the school and what everyone else is talking about is the adult side.
Mr. Barnes said something that the Board has always agreed on is to make sure all of the schools are equal. Mr. Barnes said he is asking that this new school have, at bare minimum, what Thomas Jefferson Elementary has as far as a ball field. Mr. Barnes said no one has even discussed a walking track or anything like that and those are things that are expected when the school is open. Mr. Barnes said he would certainly like to have Mr. Kevin Linhares sit down with the architect to look at what it would take to make this school open up with the same facilities as the other elementary schools in the County.
Mr. Wright said if we get all the projects coordinated at one time, it would be much cheaper that way.
Mr. Byers said he would like to see someone go through and look at everything that has been talked about and what has been indicated will be spent.
Mr. McLeod said what was talked about in the budget process last year is that Facilities Management budget was $630,000. Mr. McLeod stated Mr. Barnes said we should round off that budget at $600,000 and project the school will come up with $180,000, which leaves us with $420,000. Mr. McLeod said if you take the $420,000 and divide it over two years, it gives you $210,000 and the Board voted 4-3 to add it to the FY 09 CIP. Mr. McLeod said it would be $210,000 this year and $210,000 next year with the school putting in $180,000. Mr. McLeod said in the $16.4 million, we got the $180,000 that the school was supposed to put in.
Mr. Havasy said the $180,000 from the schools disappeared in the air and really the County is giving it to them again.
Mr. McLeod said what happened was the schools received money from the State to be spent on operations, but they used the operational funds to pay the architect, a capital project, which should not have been done. Mr. McLeod said the architect should have been paid out of capital. Mr. McLeod said in doing that, the school said they would leave money on the table in capital.
Mr. Gentry said the $180,000 was put there for playground equipment when the School Board got additional money from the State because of taxes. Mr. Gentry said the School Board put out about $40,000 to each school for furniture and equipment and decided to take the $180,000 and put towards the Moss-Nuckols Elementary School for playgrounds. Mr. Gentry said the School Board thought they had to spend the money by July and they actually spent the $180,000 on architect and construction manager bills with the idea that somewhere down the road there would be $180,000 left in capital to put towards the playgrounds.
Mr. McLeod said it did not work because the Board did not approve the $25 million school construction budget and when they wanted to carry the money over last year, Mr. McLeod would not allow the appropriation to be carried over because no cash was behind it.
Mr. Harper said he wanted to point out that there is a very serious issue going on in the world today and everyone is talking about playing. Mr. Harper said if the Board does nothing else tonight, there would be a playground for the kids at the new school. Mr. Harper said there would be a kids playground there because this is an elementary school. Mr. Harper said he did not want to spend a lot of time debating about where the $180,000 is and whether or not the County is going to build soccer ball fields with irrigation. Mr. Harper wanted to see the Board move on to something more important.
Mr. Harper asked if 94% was going to be used as the estimated collection rate for the upcoming budget. Mr. Harper asked if everyone realized that the Treasurer used to come to the Board years ago and brag about a 99.6% collection rate. Mr. Harper wondered why there was such a big drop-off and had to wonder if there were people in our county who could not pay their taxes.
Mr. McLeod said when the Treasurer talks about what is collected, they reference personal property, real estate, and public services. Mr. McLeod said instead of increasing the collection percentage, it may need to be lowered.
Mr. Harper said he wanted to make it clear that a CIP is not a guarantee and the funds do not belong to anyone until they are appropriated.
Mr. McLeod said Facilities is trying to find a site location in the Mountain Road District for a refuse site that is scheduled for FY09. Mr. McLeod said Facilities should work with Mr. Wright to coordinate the project. Mr. McLeod said Facilities is also looking into completing the Sacred Heart Road project, which is also scheduled for FY09. Mr. McLeod said there was discussion about placing generators in the Betty J. Queen Intergenerational Center in case it was needed to be used as an emergency shelter.
Mr. Harper said the schools are set up as emergency facilities and wanted to know how many more the County needed. Mr. McLeod said the Betty Queen Center had a commercial kitchen and the cost to put in generators would be $200,000.
Mr. McLeod said there is still a Public Safety building in the budget and it is in the out years for FY12.
Mr. Barnes said he had to agree with Mr. Harpers comment on the emergency shelters. Mr. Barnes said all of the schools have kitchens and spending $200,000 to put generators in to make the Betty Queen Center an emergency shelter would be something hard for him to support.
Mr. McLeod said he included that item so he could get some feedback from the Board on how they felt about it.
Mr. Gentry said the Middle School has been used in the past as an evacuation center and its already there.
Mr. McLeod asked if the cost of a generator was being built into the price for the new school. Mr. Barnes said it would be prudent to look at that. Mr. McLeod said he would like to see it wired and hooked up at first instead of doing it later.
Mr. Wright said he felt the Board should set some priorities, especially when looking at the CIP. Mr. Wright used the proposed refuse site in the Mountain Road District as an example. Mr. Wright said the County has been waiting for one for so long that it would not hurt anyone to continue using the current locations we have. Mr. Wright said he does not see spending an estimated amount of $550,000 for the construction of that site. Mr. Wright said it would be nice to have all of the athletic fields for the schools, but the Board has to decide if that is a high priority. Mr. Wright said there are some things that are going to take precedence, but he really feels the Board should set priorities when looking at the upcoming budget.
Mr. McLeod said we should do a budget memo to department heads, agencies, and the school to tell them what we're looking for in their budget. Mr. McLeod said every department budget is made up of personal services, operations, and capital outlay and he suggested budgeting the operational and capital outlay flat and then asking what the impact of a 5%, 10%, or 15% cut would do to the department.
Mr. Gentry asked Mr. Lintecum what he was doing to prepare staff for the anticipations next year because he said he has been telling everyone not to look for any kind of increase next year. Mr. Lintecum said during staff conferences, he has told everyone that this was going to be a tight year and not to expect anything because he could not even guarantee salary increases next year. Mr. Gentry said that is the kind of thing that staff needs to be prepared for. Mr. Lintecum said he had warned that the County is going to be facing tough times and we would have to learn to live within our means.
Mr. Barnes said when there are hard economic times, there is not going to be the same birth rates and he expects to see a bubble within the next five to ten years where there will not be a large increase of new kids in the school system. Mr. Barnes said he would really like to have a committee look at building or renovating a vocational center so that some students could be removed from the High School and it would only cost $10 to $12 million which is about $60 million less than a new high school and it would buy the County a lot of time to see what we have. Mr. Barnes said the County could see a substantial savings if they built a state-of-the-art vocational center.
Mr. Gentry said the Board continues to support vocation, but he wants information to be provided to the County from the schools that shows how much work needs to be done on a high school level and how much can be done with the community colleges. Mr. Gentry said the Board is having a hard time getting anything from the school about what is needed when it comes to vocation and therefore the County cannot plan.
Mr. Wright said the vocation that is needed in the County is not just for high school students. Mr. Wright said vocation is also needed for the under-employed, the unemployed, and the people with GEDs in the County because those are the people who economic development is looking for. Mr. Wright said businesses cannot wait for high school students to graduate in order to make up their work force. Mr. Wright said new businesses in the County will be looking for more experienced, seasoned people to make up their workforce. Mr. Wright said that 500 students would not be moved to the vocational center because those students will only go over there for the certain classes they are taking. Mr. Wright said the vocational center could free 10 to 12 classrooms up at the high school and he had never heard that the current high school could not be added onto.
Mr. Byers said there are a few items he has going forward and one of those is he wants someone to provide the best estimate for what the revenue is going to be. Mr. Byers said he would also like to be provided with a list of items that the Board has no control over that might increase such as unfunded mandates and CSA, etc. Mr. Byers would also like departments to provide to the Board how they would implement a 5%, 10%, or 15% reduction. Mr. Byers stated if the Board agrees to a standard, they have to be willing to carry it forward in the budget process.
Mr. Wright said he had attended a meeting last week at the Louisa Employment Center and he was told that there are people coming to the employment center looking for part-time jobs just to pay for the gas to get back and forth to their regular job.
Mr. Harper stated there are many statistics that say that Americans do not save and they dont. Mr. Harper said a lot of people spend everything they earn and some dont understand why that is. Mr. Harper said a lot of people have to do that just to survive and they will forego medical insurance and things like that.
Mr. Harper asked Mr. Byers if what he wanted was for each department to identify their core services that they absolutely need and what areas may suffer the 5%, 10%, or 15% cut if that has to happen. Mr. Harper said he knows there will be more cuts from Richmond and the money will have to come from somewhere to pick up the difference. Mr. Harper said we may have to tell the school that we have been good to them in the past but they will have to work with the County for the next few years. Mr. Harper said he would like this information to be provided to the Board before the next budget meeting in January.
Mr. Lintecum asked Mr. Harper if the Board wanted that information before the budget message is prepared.
Mr. Byers said that other State agencies and localities have already started looking at layoff policies and practices and he doesnt want to scare anyone, but they have to be aware of the state of the economy. Mr. Byers said if this becomes a reality, the Board would need to have a strategy for implementation. Mr. Byers said the Board talks about unfunded mandates, but in the No Child Left Behind book, the federal government says that the standard cost per student is $7,000 and the County is currently spending $11,000 to $12,000 per student. Mr. Byers said somewhere along the lines, the federal government said they are not going to provide $11,000 to $12,000 per student. Mr. Byers said the Board has to look to make sure tax money is being spent wisely and these are the things that are being looked at in county government.
Mr. Harper said he agrees with Mr. Byers and the idea is not to scare people, but there is a saying that if you fail to plan, then you plan to fail.
Mr. Spencer said he was told the other day that there is no longer any food in the food pantry because the people who were supplying items are now in need of food themselves. Mr. Spencer said you can talk to used car dealers and no one can find a used car because people cannot afford new cars anymore and people are losing their jobs left and right. Mr. Spencer said the Board did not need to wait until November or December and realize at the last minute that all these things need to be cut. Mr. Spencer said that the Board does not have to worry about scaring people because people are already scared. Mr. Spencer said that people who have lost their jobs cannot pay their taxes. Mr. Spencer said the Board needs to be ready and realistic in the realization that the County has taken a hit and is going to take a bigger hit.
Mr. Harper said he would like to add that next year departments may want to plan their budget around a quarterly appropriation and the Board needs to know up front if a specific department has front end loads.
Mr. Gentry said he would like to know what will not get done if the Board decides to implement a 5%, 10%, or 15% budget cut.
Mr. Barnes said he cautions the Board not to take a “chicken little” approach until there are concrete numbers. Mr. Barnes said he would hate to say, “the sky is falling, the sky is falling” and then look around at the end of the year and realize that there is an increase in revenue. Mr. Barnes said if the Board decides to make a budget cut, he would like to see the cut based on actual data and not just be a number pulled out of the air.
Mr. Spencer asked what the number was that the Governor just came up with as the State shortfall.
Mr. McLeod said $2 to $2.9 billion and the County was not sure what their share would be yet. Mr. McLeod said he had set the next budget meeting up for January, but feels that maybe it should be about a month later because real estate taxes are due on December 5, 2008 and by that time the Governor will have announced what he is cutting out on everyones budget. Mr. McLeod said you cannot give an accurate revenue projection without getting the current years revenue first. Mr. McLeod said he feels everyone should be told in their budget memos that this is going to be a tough year and they should try to find out what services are not going to be done if the budget is cut. Mr. McLeod said he has told people that they will be lucky to get level funding because everyone is going to have to share in the overall budget cut. Mr. McLeod stated he does not think its fair to say that everyone is going to share in the same percentage of cut because there are some services that are more important than others.
Mr. Spencer said that is a priority that has to be established as a Board. Mr. Spencer said he knows of a lot of people who have lost their jobs and hours and will not be able to pay their taxes at the end of the year. Mr. Spencer said they may not be able to pay their taxes this year and theres no guarantee they will be able to pay next year, especially with talk of a tax increase.
Mr. Lintecum said there would be no recommendation for any tax increase right now.
Mr. McLeod said the 20-penny tax increase would be required in FY12 while looking at the debt services if the County chooses to build an $82 million high school. Mr. McLeod said he did not think anyone in the room wants to see a tax increase.
Mr. Spencer asked if the County doesnt have the money, how are they going to pay debts without raising taxes and assessments. Mr. Spencer said the citizens are always told that their taxes went up based on what was sold around them, but the prices are going down, and thats a double-edged sword. Mr. Spencer said if someones assessment is $500,000 and he has it on the market at $375,000 and cannot give it away, someone is going to be in the assessment office raising concerns. Mr. Spencer said banks are losing an average of $60,000 per foreclosure, so the assessments have to drop.
Mr. McLeod said problems have formed with the banks and thats where a liquidity issue comes into play. Mr. McLeod said the County anticipates selling bonds this Spring to pay for the elementary school, but if the liquidity issue is not settled, the County may not be able to sell the bonds.
Mr. Byers said he agrees with Mr. Barnes and the Board has to try and get the best estimates. Mr. Byers said one of the strategies used by the State government was to give a 5% or 10% figure so people could review their budget and try to get a plan together, which helps establish a process to evaluate the services rendered to see which services added value and which services probably did not. Mr. Byers said no matter what amount was being cut, the departments had already determined which of their services were core services. Mr. Byers said if he only had $10 in his pocket, he could only buy $10 worth of groceries, unless he were to steal and thats the idea that departments should use.
Mr. Barnes asked, worse case scenario, if Mr. McLeod expected a loss or increase in revenue for the current year budget. Mr. McLeod said because of certain issues, he is expecting the budget to be flat or possibly a $700,000 increase.
Mr. Barnes said if the Board was going to take that approach, they should just tell departments to base their budget on zero for the upcoming year. Mr. Barnes said people should be told if revenue is expected to be flat, they can expect their budget to be flat.
Mr. Gentry said if more unfunded mandates come from the State, that factor has to be included as well.
Mr. Barnes said if we start flat, that becomes the working point. Mr. Barnes said you can defend starting off that way because of what revenue is being anticipated. Mr. Barnes said that way would be easier than to tell people we are starting with a 10% cut with no way of defending that number. Mr. Barnes said if revenues are expected to be flat, we can start by telling everyone no increase.
Mr. McLeod said without knowing what the revenues are for the current year, his best guess is that there will be a $700,000 increase overall next year.
Mr. Byers asked Mr. McLeod if he projected collections to be just as good. Mr. McLeod said without the current revenues, its hard to tell FY10 projections so they might be good, but they might not be.
Mr. Harper asked what the commercial growth was that the County was getting. Mr. McLeod said in Zion Crossroads. Mr. Harper asked for specific locations in Zion Crossroads that could represent an increase in revenue. Mr. Harper asked Mr. McLeod if he would provide information to the Board for the sales tax revenue from Lowes at Zion Crossroads.
Mr. Wright said the Board could not get accurate estimates for next year until we have more information about this year because we have only been through three out of twelve months. Mr. Wright said he wanted to look at this years operational and capital budgets because if we tell people we want flat budgets, they are flat in comparison to what.
Mr. Harper said in the past few years, the County has dipped into savings because all the revenue that was expected was not earned.
Mr. McLeod said the County has never dipped into savings to pay for operations and it has always been for capital projects. Mr. McLeod said there are some counties that are borrowing all of their capital money and Louisa has been fortunate enough to not have to do that in the past.
Mr. Harper said he would assume the Board would like to continue with the commitment to not have to borrow money to operate.
Mr. Havasy said this is the second time the County is paying the $180,000 to the school and it aggravates him when he hears about lights and Astroturf and running tracks because the word is education, not athletics. Mr. Havasy said the County spends $50 million a year on education and only has average to below average students. Mr. Havasy said if thats all that can be produced with $50 million, then Louisa is better than surrounding counties and we end up getting less. Mr. Havasy said he hears Mr. Barnes talking about their school board looking for ways to get world-class education and Louisa is just talking about passing the AYPs and SOLs, which has not always been done. Mr. Havasy said the County is not getting their value for the $50 million in the budget. Mr. Havasy said he would continue to vote for an increase in funding for the school budget as long as their numbers continued to go up. Mr. Havasy said he read in the newspaper that their numbers did not go up and he thinks the County could save $2 million next year by only giving the school $48 million instead of $50 million.
Mr. Wright said the Board should ask the school for the same review that they are asking of County departments.
Mr. Byers said the paper shows State levels for the AYPs in Louisa schools, but he would like to see how many Louisa schools meet the federal AYP requirements.
Mr. Havasy said out of five schools, three of them failed this year.
Mr. Harper asked Mr. McLeod what he was going to do going forward.
Mr. McLeod said he wanted to clarify what the per pupil cost is in the schools budget and the budget process showed it to be $10,118.75 per pupil. Mr. McLeod said the budget depends on how many students are enrolled and this budget was based on having additional students.
Mr. Byers said he was talking with someone about appropriations and he thinks he may have been confused. Mr. Byers wanted Mr. Dale Mullen to find out what it really means if the Board approves an appropriation and then the Board has the opportunity to go back later and track some of the money. Mr. Byers also asked if the Board approves an appropriation, if the person receiving it can willingly give it back. Mr. Byers said he would like to completely understand how appropriations work because if the Board is unsure about the expected revenues going forward, they may not want to appropriate all of the money at once and look at appropriating on a quarterly basis.
Mr. Mullen said if it was the pleasure of the Board, he would look into this issue with Finance. Mr. Mullen said he had talked specifically about this with Mr. McLeod who was looking for the Board to move towards a quarterly appropriation process versus yearly or even twice a year.
Mr. Harper said the intent is not necessarily to make this a permanent process, but to definitely make it a process that will be used when there are so many uncertainties.
Mr. Spencer said on the CSA bills, the State currently pays more than the County does, but his question for Mr. Mullen is that if the State cuts the County $4 million on CSA, can the County be forced to raise taxes in order to pay for CSA funding and what other options would the County have. Mr. Spencer said this is a potential issue heading the Countys way. Mr. Spencer wanted to know if the County does not have the money, can they be forced to find the money and where does the County take it from.
Mr. McLeod said when dealing with the $50 million cut during the last budget process, the State said if you took the cut out of CSA, the State would use that as a deductible. Mr. McLeod said if we submitted a claim to the State for $100, and there was a $40 cut, the State is only going to pay $60 of the total $100.
Mr. Spencer asked who pays the other $40. Mr. McLeod said the County would have to. Mr. Spencer asked what happens if the County does not have that money.
Mr. Wright said the Governor has said he is not going to cut education and he is not going to cut child services.
Mr. Havasy said he heard earlier in the day that education was in the mix now to possibly be cut.
Mr. Harper said the Governor may shift all of the VRS contributions to the County to pay.
Mr. Spencer said his question for Mr. Mullen to look into is if the State tells the County that there are things to be paid, what can the County be forced to do to cover those items.
Mr. Harper said that people need to keep in mind that this is planning for the worse case scenario. Mr. Harper said if things work out well, everyone will be smiling next year and the money will flow like it always has.
Mr. McLeod said he was going to start a budget letter to departments and agencies expressing the concerns of the Board and asking them to begin looking at core services and the impact of what would not get done if there were budget cuts.
Mr. Byers asked if the Board could tell the schools that the performance on the AYPs would be considered when evaluating the school budget.
Mr. Harper said he thinks the budget for the school could be performance based.
Mr. Wright said he would like to see an accurate count on students. Mr. Wright said he asked the Chairman of the school board last year what the increase was in enrollment and he was told 200 students and later found out there were only 47.
Mr. Gentry said one thing that bothers him is to hear the school administration and school board talk about money problems and the first thing they say is they are going to cut teachers, and Mr. Gentry said the teachers are not where the cuts need to be. Mr. Gentry said the Board may very well get into the administration argument again this upcoming budget year.
Mr. Spencer said he had a document provided to him about the $180,000 from the schools and they said in order to make up that money, the school was going to cut two teachers aids and one high school teacher. Mr. Spencer said the school has already shown that they are willing to cut teachers to make up for lost money.
Mr. Harper said there is no question when you talk about a certain amount of money that you talk about people because thats where all the money is. Mr. Harper said the Board also has to take into consideration that people leave jobs for certain reasons and those positions are never replaced.
Mr. Wright said the Board can dictate the budget, but not how its allocated.
Mr. Spencer said the Board can tell Mr. Lintecum to cut $200,000 from the budget and Mr. Lintecum will decide how to cut that amount. Mr. Spencer said it is no concern of the Board where Mr. Lintecum chooses to cut that money. Mr. Spencer said its the same with the School Board. Mr. Spencer stated if the School Board is directed to cut $250,000 from their budget, they have $50 million to cut it out of. Mr. Spencer said he is not concerned with the School Board saying that they will have to cut teachers or nurses because if they cannot cut $250,000 out of their budget without losing people, then there is a problem.
Mr. Gentry said he agrees the Board has no control over it, but he still has concerns.
Mr. McLeod asked if the Board wanted to plan to have a workshop to see where the early numbers are coming in.
Mr. Harper said every year there is a projection and the only difference is this year may come in a little lower than usual.
Mr. Byers said if the State can use a 5% or 10% cut, what is wrong with local government doing the same. Mr. Byers said if the School Board wants to start looking at the costs of things, they should look at the cost of Administration. Mr. Byers said they will give themselves raises and not give any to the teachers. Mr. Byers said everyone needs to evaluate where to make cuts and where to make adjustments.
On motion of Mr. Wright, seconded by Mr. Spencer, which carried by a vote of 6-0, with Mr. Barnes being absent at the time, the Board voted to adjourn the September 29, 2008 meeting at 7:35 p.m.
BY ORDER OF
WILLIE L. HARPER, CHAIRMAN
LOUISA COUNTY BOARD OF SUPERVISORS
LOUISA COUNTY, LOUISA, VIRGINIA