Articles from February 2008



Priorities, priorities, priorities!

An editorial in The Free Lance-Star: Doggone it:

A bill by Del. Bobby Orrock, D-Caroline, defines commercial breeders, requires them to register with their localities, and subjects them to all kinds of regulations and inspections. The bill comes perilously close to inflicting unfounded government control on innocent parties–such as hobby breeders and hunt-club operators, for example. It also establishes expensive unfunded mandates just when localities are revenue-pressed.

Well, I’m going to assume that’s a typo (or a Freudian slip) when they refer to Orrock as a Democrat.

But besides that: Great work. Never thought I would be saying that to The FL-S. ;)

Have a read of the fiscal impact statement for this bill (HB538) from the Virginia Department of Planning and Budget:

According to the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, the bill will result in an increased need for technical support to local animal control officers, private practice veterinarians, and Commonwealth’s attorneys in recognizing, investigating, collecting evidence, prosecuting, and giving expert testimony on commercial animal breeders. In addition, the legislation may result in a greater number of animal cruelty and animal welfare investigations in general.

Talk about unfunded mandates…

The department estimates that the legislation will require one full-time position to carry out the responsibilities associated with it. The cost of the position includes salary and fringes of $90,350, and other costs, such as office space, computer, cell phone, and travel of $16,412 in the first year and $12,392 in subsequent years.

That would be $106,762 for the 2008-2009 fiscal year and $102,742 in each subsequent fiscal year.

The bill makes it a Class 1 misdemeanor for commercial breeders to violate the provisions. The penalties of a Class 1 misdemeanor include confinement in jail for not more than 12 months and a fine of not more than $2,500. Therefore, this proposal could result in an increase in the number of persons in jail. There is not enough information available to reliably estimate how many additional inmates in jail could result from this proposal. Any increase in jail population will increase costs to the state. The Commonwealth pays localities $8 a day for each misdemeanant or otherwise local responsible prisoner held in a jail. It also funds much of the jails’ operating costs, e.g. correctional officers. The state’s share of these costs, on a per prisoner, per day basis varies from locality to locality. However, according to the Compensation Board’s most recent jail cost report (November 2007), the estimated total state support for local jails averaged $28.42 per inmate per day in FY 2006.

Bobby Orrock wants the state to spend at least $102,742 a year hunting down dog breeders (no pun intended) when his own county of residence can’t even get funding from the state to convert their part-time Commonwealth’s Attorney’s position to full-time! Does anyone else see a problem with this?

The last animal cruelty case (against Michael Wilkerson) that the Commonwealth’s Attorney in Caroline County prosecuted took two hours — and the case has since been appealed to Circuit Court and will have to be retried.

It’s nice to see that the government (any) has its spending priorities in order.

I hate Virginia…

Yes, that’s a hyperbole; to be more specific: I hate the Virginia House of Delegates.

Anyone care to guest what county managed to get full-time funding for their Commonwealth’s Attorney’s position in the House of Delegates budget?

Was it Caroline County?

Of course not!

It was Buckingham County! Why?

I’m sure it would have nothing to do with the fact that the Delegate that represents Buckingham County — Watkins M. Abbitt, Jr. — is on the House Appropriations committee and is the head of General Government subcommittee (which approved the budget amendment that gave Buckingham County the funding) [photo credit: Richmond Sunlight].

Let’s do some comparing and contrasting of Caroline and Buckingham Counties.

Estimated population in 2006 according to the Census Bureau:

  • Caroline County: 26,731
  • Buckingham County: 16,099

Bottom line: Caroline County has a population that is 66.04% higher.

According to the State Compensation Board:

  • Caroline County was ranked as most in need of additional attorney staffing with an 86.12% of need (the second ranked county, Amelia, was only 49.95%).
  • Buckingham County was ranked fourteenth (14th) in need with only a 21.90% of need.

Bottom line: Caroline County was determined to be more in need of additional attorney staffing than Buckingham County.

Ibid:

  • Caroline County was ranked eighteenth (18th) in need of additional administrative support (secretaries and paralegals) with a 37.78% of need.
  • Buckingham County was ranked forty-fourth (44th) in need with only a 5.77% need.

Bottom line: Caroline County was determined to be more in need of additional administrative support staffing than Buckingham County.

According to the 2005 Uniform Crime Report:

  • Caroline County had 869 arrests.
  • Buckingham County had 610 arrests.

Bottom line: Caroline County had 42.46% more arrests than Buckingham County.

State Compensation Board:

  • Caroline County was ranked 111th out of 120 jurisdictions with only 28.39% of felony defendants being sentenced. The rest of the felony defendants either had their charges nolle prossed, dismissed, or reduced to misdemeanors.
  • Buckingham County was ranked 73rd out of 120 jurisdictions with 48.79% of felons being sentenced.
  • The statewide average is 54.61%.

Bottom line: Caroline County has more felons not being sentenced due to the lack of adequate staffing.

So, tell me, which county do you think should have received money for full-time staffing?

Sitreps on Haymount, YMCA, and State Fair.

(Sitrep = situation report)

The Free Lance–Star: Big plans, big projects, big updates page:

Haymount (Caroline)

Haymount, a 4,000-home planned subdivision near Rappahannock Academy in Caroline County, has not been built despite being approved in 1992. Caroline’s planning director said Haymount is being sold to a developer who does similar projects. The 1,600-acre project is designed as a traditional town with an elementary school and a mix of retail and commercial.

I would kill for some decent infrastructure (roads and broadband) around here. Hurry up and build!

New YMCAs

[…] The YMCA hopes to break ground in Caroline County late this year.

At the cost of $3,200,000 to the county. At least one Supervisor had the sense to vote against this.

Remember this when the Board wants to raise your real estate taxes to pay for a school, public safety building, or the Sparta Fire House.

STATE FAIR

The plan: State Fair officials bought 348 acres in southern Caroline County in 2003. At the time, they talked about holding the fair at its new home as early as 2006; the event is currently held at the Richmond Raceway Complex.

Status: Now, the earliest it will open at The Meadow, birthplace of Triple Crown winner Secretariat, is 2009.

Hopefully, it’ll be 2019.

This is a project where the current Chairman of the Board of Supervisors has said that if the fair brings in money for the county, the county will end up losing money from the state via the composite index.

And what economic benefit is it going to bring? There are no new businesses on the Caroline County side of The Meadow. The roads have been expanded on the Hanover side of The Meadow (going on Route 30 from I-95 to The Meadow) but the road going to Route 301 has not! I’m sure that intersection (Route 30 and Route 301) is going to look great when the fair opens — hey, just like Richmond!

The county has agreed to be responsible for the bills for utilities from Hanover County if the fair goes bankrupt. Of course, the county is acting as the middle-man to no benefit to the county. Too bad that none of the businesses that might want to set up (none have, however) in Caroline County (besides the fair) have access to said utilities.

Has anyone been to the site of the fair in Richmond? Make sure you have a gun with you if you go…

Hey, at least one Supervisor had the sense to vote against the fair (and two voted against the special permit for ticket sales for the fair).

Hey! The same Supervisor voted against both the YMCA and State Fair!

UPDATED: February 12, 2008 – Board of Supervisors meeting roundup

Nothing really interesting at this meeting and not a lot that The Free Lance–Star didn’t cover. And as usual, since I’m lazy, I’ve linked to The FL–S story.

Floyd Thomas was a little late getting to the meeting due to the Springfield Mixing Bowl Charlie Foxtrot.

CALL TO ORDER

INVOCATION

Invocation by Wayne Acors.

PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE

AMENDMENTS TO THE AGENDA

Struck Consent Agenda Item C (Approval of Livestock Reimbursement Claim) and added Consent Agenda Item I: Declaration of Local Emergency.

OPENING BOARD COMMENTS

ADOPTION OF AFRICAN-AMERICAN HISTORY MONTH RESOLUTION

Resolution adoption proposed by Sili/seconded by Popowicz: 5-0.

SPECIAL PRESENTATION TO MAXIE ROZELL FROM GEORGE WASHINGTON REGIONAL PLANNING COMMISSION

Maxie Rozell was presented with a resolution of recognition from the George Washington Regional Planning Commission for his tenure on the commission by Vice Chairman Jeff Sili.

PRESENTATIONS/REPORTS

  • VDOT Monthly Report

The usual bureaucratic junk (I really should get paid for this). Public hearing on VDOT’s 6-year plan will be March 18th.

  • Report on Development of Master Plan for Main County Recreation Park

Surveys will be sent out to citizens in the mail to determine what should be built at the county park.

  • Presentation of Proposed Floor Plan for County Use of Old Union Bankshares Building

Current projected price: $3,679,000, down from $3,700,000. Estimated completion time: 12 months.

Of course, I’m not sure why the county is spending $3,679,000 for office space for twenty full-time personnel when the Sheriff’s Office and Emergency Services have eighty-eight (88) full-time personnel which could have used a public safety building.

Sorry for beating a dead horse.

Or pumping a dry well.

Or trying to get blood from a stone.

APPOINTMENTS

  • Recreation Advisory Committee – Mattaponi District

Continued.

  • Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) – Reedy Church District

Someone (didn’t catch name). Rozell/Acors: 5-0.

  • Social Services Board – Mattaponi District

Someone (didn’t catch name). Sili/Popowicz: 5-0.

CONSENT AGENDA

  • A) Approval of Minutes
  • B) Approval of Warrants
  • C) Approval of Livestock Reimbursement Claim
  • D) Approval of Resolution Authorizing FRED Transit System to Submit Application for Demonstration Grant Funding
  • E) Approval of Payment Request #21 for Dawn Wastewater Project
  • F) Request for Adjustment to Water Bill Based on Special Circumstances
  • G) Approval of Supplemental School Appropriation
  • H) Adoption of Resolution Declaring March Red Cross Month in Caroline County
  • I) Declaration of Local Emergency

Popowicz proposed to adopt consent agenda as amended/seconded by Acors: 5-0.

7:30 P.M. PUBLIC COMMENTS

PUBLIC HEARINGS

UPDATE: Bah, I forgot something: Commonwealth’s Attorney Tony Spencer reiterated his need for full-time staffing (including a full-time secretary) at the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office. He pointed out that Caroline County was ranked as most in need of staffing by the State Compensation Board and had one of the lowest ratio of felony defendants to sentencing events (111th out of 120 jurisdictions) with only 28.39% of felony defendants being sentenced. That means the remainder of charged felons either had their charges nolle prossed, dismissed, or reduced to misdemeanors.

Proposed Adjustments to Water & Wastewater Rates

The Free Lance–Star: Regional briefs

From the Caroline County government: Public Input Requested On Utility Rate Adjustments

From the Caroline County government: Utility Rate Study Information

INFORMATIONAL/CALENDAR ITEMS

  • Proposed Dates for Budget Worksessions

Proposed work sessions for the budget: March 4th, March 6th, March 13th, and March 20th.

State of the County Address will be February 28th.

CLOSING BOARD COMMENTS

CLOSED MEETING

There was a closed meeting but I’m too lazy to type out the reasons for it. Sili/Acors: 5-0.

ADJOURNMENT

Next Board of Supervisors meeting: February 26th.

The School Board will have a budget work session on February 19th at 5:00 p.m. at the School Board office.

As always, if I forgot about something, leave a comment.

Wow, big suprise there.

The Washington Times: ‘Tax Me More Fund’ raises little revenue:

State lawmakers can rule out Virginian’s offering up more of their hard-earned money to fix the $1.4 billion budget shortfall Gov. Tim Kaine announced this week.

At least that is what a peek at the so-called “Tax Me More Fund” suggests.

Since its inception in 2002, the fund has collected a total of $10,217.04.

[…]

Public generosity reached its high point in 2003 when Virginians forked over $6,602. The low point was in 2006, when the state received a measly $19.36.

In Virginia, the elections never stop.

With the Virginia Presidential Primaries over and done with and Barack Obama and John McCain the winners, we can now look forward to the special election for the 99th House of Delegates District (empty since Rob Wittman won the special election for the 1st Congressional District after Jo Ann Davis’s death).

The 99th HOD special election will be on February 19th. The District includes all of King George, Lancaster, Northumberland, Richmond, and Westmoreland Counties. In Caroline County, it includes all of the Bowling Green District and all of the Port Royal Precinct. It also includes a couple dozen people in the Mattaponi District and the Woodford Precinct.

To find out what HOD district you’re in, consult your voter registration card, click here, or contact the Voter Registrar:

Danette Moen
109 County Street
Bowling Green, VA 22427
Phone: 804-633-9083
Fax: 804-633-0362
Email: dhmoen@co.caroline.va.us

But that isn’t the end of the fun in Caroline County. On May 6th there will be town elections in Port Royal and Bowling Green. In Port Royal there will be an election for seven at large town council seats. The mayor will be appointed from within the town council. In Bowling Green there will be an election for seven at large town council seats and the position of mayor.

Props to Eric Cantor

From the AP via NBC4: Only 18 Lawmakers Shun Pet Projects:

A new report from a budget watchdog group said that an overwhelming majority of lawmakers asked for billions of dollars for pet projects last year.

The group, Taxpayers for Common Sense, said only 12 members of the house and six members of the Senate opted not to seek so-called “earmarks.” But the rest of Congress racked up $18 billion work of pork barrel spending.

That would be $18,000,000,000.

[…]

The lawmakers who decided not to ask for money for pet projects include Virginia Republican U.S. Rep. Eric Cantor.

Caroline County Schools opening a hour late.

Check Fredericksburg.com for updates.

UPDATE: Am I the only one that didn’t get an alert from Roam Secure about this?

No outdoor fires before 4:00 p.m.

From the Virginia Department of Forestry: Outdoor Fires Unlawful Before 4 p.m.:

The Commonwealth’s 4 p.m. Burning Law goes into effect Feb. 15, 2008 – the start of spring fire season in Virginia. This law prohibits burning before 4 p.m. each day (Feb. 15 – April 30) if the fire is in, or within 300 feet of, woodland, brushland or fields containing dry grass or other flammable materials.

A violation of this law is a Class 3 misdemeanor punishable by up to a $500 fine. In addition to the criminal violation, those who allow a fire to escape are liable for the cost of suppressing the fire as well as any damage caused to others’ property.

Bill eliminating proffers, expanding impact fees passes Senate of Virginia

The Free Lance–Star: Impact-fee bill clears Senate:

On a vote of 21-19, the Senate approved Sen. John Watkins’ bill that eliminates the proffer system for residential development, replacing it with an increased ability to charge impact fees on development.

Proffers are technically voluntary payments that developers pay to localities to cover the cost of services to those new houses, like water and schools. Impact fees do essentially the same thing, but are currently limited to road improvements.

Watkins’ bill would eliminate proffers on residential development, but apply impact fees to emergency services and schools as well as roads. It would also allow localities to charge impact fees on “stale zoning”–i.e., development of lots that are already zoned. Current law only allows fees or proffers to be charged on development that requires new zoning.

Does that mean they can double dip and charge the owners of lots that have already paid proffers, impact fees as well?

It originally capped the impact fees at $5,000 per house, $8,000 in Northern Virginia. Watkins amended the bill to raise that cap to $7,500 per house, $12,500 in Northern Virginia, as local officials opposed the bill in part because they said the caps were too low.

Ouch, that’s going to hurt the Caroline County government since they currently charge $17,632 per lot.