Thirteen items awaited the attention of the Rappahannock Board of Supervisors at its regular monthly meeting Monday afternoon at the county courthouse. Highlights included the audit of county finances, redistricting, improving pedestrian safety in Sperryville, reciprocal trash transfer site usage by Rappahannock and Culpeper residents and funding of local Civil War sesquicentennial events.
Rappahannock County received the “best opinion that we can issue,” said Wes Clark of Robinson, Farmer, Cox Associates in his presentation of the annual audit of fiscal year 2010 finances. There were no significant events to report.
The county’s long-term debt was reduced by $422,000 to $4.6 million.
County officials spent $900,000 less than budgeted, partly by reducing travel. County Administrator John McCarthy noted that some amount is usually returned each year.
“I have always followed the theory that you budget for worst cases,” McCarthy said. “Accordingly, there can only be pleasant surprises.”
Revenue dropped by $153,000, according to the audit report. McCarthy cited two changes that contributed to the loss. Residents purchased fewer new cars, and thus paid less in personal property taxes. And not as many inmates stayed in the county jail as in past years, he said, thereby generating less income.
Clark verified that the Rappahannock County Sheriff’s Office turned over all inmate work release income to the Treasurer’s Office.
On March 24, the board will begin the task of reconfiguring the county’s five voting districts. The goal is for each to contain an equal number of voters, with an allowable difference of five percent.
Counts from the 2010 census show that the Wakefield district has an “average” population, McCarthy said, meaning it would not need to change. Stonewall-Hawthorne and Jackson districts, however, are above average and would need to lose some voters.
Using computer-aided mapping software, Patrick Mauney with Rappahannock-Rapidan Regional Commission will help supervisors visualize changes, McCarthy said. Mauney, who was at Monday’s meeting, said he will develop two scenarios to serve as a starting point. Supervisors would be able to redraw district lines on the spot.
McCarthy reported to the board that four recommendations to make walking in Sperryville a safer experience came out of a meeting last month between McCarthy, Sheriff Connie C. Smith and concerned residents.
The board asked McCarthy to explore the costs of requests to: install two flashing signs displaying motorists’ speed; create a three-way stop where U.S. routes 211 and 522 meet Main Street; and paint new crosswalks. McCarthy will report to the board in April. Finally, residents ask that Sheriff’s Office continue to monitor traffic closely.
In the spirit of “it takes money to make money,” the board allocated $1,000 to enable the sesquicentennial committee’s fund-raising activities, as well as to match donations up to $1,000. Supervisor Chris Parrish objected to both actions.
“We’re just moving air if we talk about projects with no money,” said Supervisor Ron Frazier, who is a member of the sesquicentennial committee, charged with finding ways to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Civil War.
Committee member Art Candenquist and Frazier both mentioned the group’s plan to host a reading of Civil War-era poetry on Saturday, May 7, and that more such events would draw visitors from throughout Northern Virginia, thereby generating tourism income for local businesses and the county.
Rappahannock residents may bring household trash and recyclables to the Culpeper County transfer site on U.S. 522 free of charge. Likewise, Culpeper residents may come to the Amissville site. At Culpeper’s suggestion, both county’s boards had agreed to sharing access, but planned to flesh out details before opening the gates.
A March 2 article in the Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star newspaper, however, prompted McCarthy to ask the board for a decision at this month’s meeting rather than in April as planned. The Free Lance-Star reported that the agreement was already in effect, McCarthy said.
“The real indeterminable thing is how many [Culpeper residents] will use it,” McCarthy said. He instructed Amissville site staff to count its Culpeper County visitors, and said he would report back to the board in May.
“We want to accommodate them as long as taxpayers don’t get hurt,” said McCarthy.
Ultimately, he said, nurturing Rappahannock’s valued relationship with Culpeper turned the decision. Supervisors Frazier, Bryant Lee and Charmain Roger Welch each recalled the benefits to Rappahannock of its cooperation with Culpeper.
Supervisor Chris Parrish pointed out the potential development of two disadvantageous situations. Should the economy worsen, Culpeper residents may cancel their own paid trash collection services and bring their trash instead to the Amissville site.
And, Parrish said, a mixed-use construction effort at Clevenger’s Corner is in the planning stage; the plan allows as many as 275 homes to be built not far from Rappahannock’s eastern boundary.
“It’s a lot harder to stop it than start it,” said Parrish. “I’d rather not start it.” Parrish motioned to not allow Culpeper to dump at Amissville, but there was no second.
In other action, McCarthy informed the board that the county is seeking a replacement for Mary Dobrovir on the Library Board. Her term ends at the end of 2012.