Trevor Henry, Albemarle County Director of Facilities and Environmental Services Credit: Credit: Sean Tubbs, Charlottesville Tomorrow

The Albemarle County Planning Commission has been briefed on the latest version of the county’s capital improvement program budget.

“It’s a combination of our five-year plan, which is balanced to revenues, and then another five-year look, which is what we call our capital needs assessment,” said Trevor Henry, the county’s director of facilities and environmental services.

The capital improvement program represents all planned spending for new buildings and infrastructure as well as maintenance of existing structures and property.

“We are required to balance that plan to our financial goals, so there are strict policies that we adhere to,” Henry said.

For fiscal 2018, the county is amending the existing budget rather than developing a new document entirely.  

“We did not update capital needs this year,” Henry said. “It’s an every other year cycle.”

Departments and agencies put in requests for funding and these are reviewed, scored and ranked by a technical committee.

“One of the new projects we looked at is the Scottsville Elementary School site work improvements,” Henry said. The request is for $211,900.

Another new project is $420,000 for site work for a new advanced technology center at Piedmont Virginia Community College.

“This is one for a 45,000-square-foot technology center,” Henry said. “The funding would come from the state for the building portion of it. The community college then looks to the localities to fund the site work costs. Our share of that would be $420,000 over three years.”

Another new request is for the Senior Center’s new home in Belvedere. The nonprofit organization is seeking $2 million from both the city and county towards a new building that will be three times larger than its existing center.

“They are going into design on an up to 60,000-square-foot building,” Henry said. “We felt that this didn’t necessarily make the amendment year criteria, but we were asked by the Board of Supervisors to review it.”

Planning Commission chairman Tim Keller said he is not certain the new Belvedere location is appropriate.

“Right now, the Senior Center is on the 29 corridor where we have mass transportation and we’ve made a commitment to mass transportation,” Keller said. “There seems to be room for expansion there and yet it’s being moved over to Rio Road into a suburban area where there isn’t the same kind of transportation.”

Peter Thompson, executive director of the Senior Center, said in an email to Charlottesville Tomorrow that the center cannot expand in its existing location on Pepsi Place.

“There is no room to expand and the Hillsdale extension is taking some of our property and making egress in and out of the Senior Center parking lot more difficult and less safe,” Thompson said.

Part of the county’s annual financial contribution to Charlottesville Area Transit pays for Route 11, which connects Fashion Square Mall with the downtown mall via Rio Road.

“CAT plans to extend Route 11 so that it comes right to the front door of the future Center at Belvedere,” Thompson said. “Additionally, many more people use JAUNT than CAT to access our Center and JAUNT will continue to service our new Center.”

A two-year financial plan prepared by the county’s budget staff calls for using $3.5 million from a projected $8.6 million surplus to the capital improvement program. An additional $2 million would go towards a local match for the Virginia Department of Transportation’s revenue-sharing program.

However, Henry said that could change.

“This is a plan and a work in progress and the Board of Supervisors has two more work sessions on [the two-year financial plan],” Henry said.

The project surplus is caused by the two-cent tax increase adopted by the Board of Supervisors in April as part of the budget for the fiscal year that began July 1. The increase is retroactive to the start of the calendar year, which means the additional funds have not been allocated.

One commissioner said not enough is being done to ensure the urban ring is a place people want to live.

“It’s disappointing to me to see the low level of funding for parks and recreation,” said Commissioner Karen Firehock. “We put a huge stress on the importance of keeping growth in the urban ring, but yet every time we have parks and recreation up for funding, we don’t put any money into it.”

Firehock suggested parks and recreation and other community amenities could receive a percentage of the capital improvement program.

The capital program also anticipates delaying the courts expansion or relocation project because the Board of Supervisors has not yet decided whether to renovate existing facilities or move to a new site in Albemarle.