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Albemarle supervisors discuss allocation of extra money

Albemarle County officials are discussing whether to use $1.8 million in surplus funds for projects left out of the budget and/or to add the money to a strategic reserve fund that now stands at $2 million and then whether to allocate some of that fund toward the Board of Supervisors’ strategic priorities.

An Advancing Strategic Priorities Reserve was added to the county’s five-year Capital Improvement Plan in the fiscal year 2019 budget, with $2 million included in fiscal year 2020, but that money has not been spent. It was originally added to the CIP to give the board funding to use toward projects related to its strategic priorities or toward “emerging needs.”

At multiple work sessions for the fiscal year 2021 budget, the Board of Supervisors has discussed whether to put an additional $1.8 million in the reserve from a surplus from fiscal year 2019 and which, if any, potential projects to fund with the money.

“You can utilize it not just for outside community requests but for requests that you have or needs that the county has,” Lori Allshouse, the county’s director of management and budget, told the board at a recent work session.

The board has not yet decided how to spend much of the $1.8 million from the surplus, or whether to add that money to the Advancing Strategic Priorities Reserve, which was recommended by staff after a discussion on the surplus in December.

In January, the board gave support to a process that would be used for evaluating outside requests, but it still remains at supervisors’ discretion.

When funding for a project is requested from a group in the community, county staff will review the project and make recommendations about how it fits with the board’s strategic plan, if there are fund matching opportunities and other considerations such as timing, urgency and other county plans. The process will incorporate the requests for the reserve funds into the annual budget process.

During a work session on Thursday, supervisors went through a list of potential projects and heard cost estimates, but did not make any final decisions.

The board supported adding $243,700 to an already proposed $356,290 from Community Development Department fees to go toward the department’s work program. That money would come from the $1.8 million from the surplus, supervisors said.

At the board’s regular meeting on Wednesday, supervisors heard about four potential projects that could be in the work program but would need funding for external resources — a transportation systems plan, a corridor study of Rio Road, a plan for the Opportunity Zone near Hydraulic Road and a small area plan around Mill Creek Drive. None of these has been selected yet by the board.

On Thursday, the board also supported funding the design of a second solid waste convenience center for about $120,000, but a final decision will be made at a later date.

A small road project at the intersection of Reas Ford Road and Earlysville Road, a more detailed planning study for county facilities and additional funding for affordable housing also were reviewed.

A request of $2 million from the Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Virginia for its new facility near Jack Jouett Middle School was also on the list. Club CEO James Pierce said the request was made because of increased costs related to the site.

“When we picked this site, it was with full knowledge that there was going to be more cost,” Pierce told supervisors. “It was an absolute compromise. It wasn’t our first choice. But we happily did that. And I think one of the reasons we did that was to hasten the completion of the project and to get it operational.”

The nonprofit is renting the land for the facility from the School Board for $1 a year as part of a 40-year lease approved in June.

The Board of Supervisors decided to discuss the funding request at a budget work session on March 17 with members of the School Board and school staff present to talk about the Boys & Girls Clubs request.

There is not a deadline for supervisors to spend money from the Advancing Strategic Priorities Reserve.

The board is scheduled to adopt a budget on April 20.

More information on the budget process can be found at albemarle.org/budget.

Source: www.dailyprogress.com

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