Board amends project budgets

Published 4:20 pm Wednesday, June 22, 2016

All present members of the Charlotte County Board of Supervisors unanimously passed amendments to the 2015-16 and 2016-17 budgets on Monday. The two budget changes added a combined $13.9 million in order to pay for the New Courthouse Capital Project. Board member Warren Weston, of Wylliesburg-Red Oak District, didn’t attend the meeting.

Over 80 percent of the $13.9 million is designated for the actual cost of construction. Close to 7 percent, just under $1 million, is estimated to cover the cost of the architect.

The majority of the money was added to the 2016-17 budget, totalling $12.8 million, while $1.1 million went towards the 2015-16 budget. Vice Chairman Gary Walker pointed out the figure of $12.8 million was the board’s “best guess” for how much money will need to be appropriated to the project, suggesting the full amount allotted may not be spent.

According to County Administrator R.B. Clark, the amended 2015-16 budget reflected the payments already authorized. Previously, he said the board was advised to amend the budget and appropriate with the projected monthly costs, as the board pays the bills by the month.

“They have allowed us to appropriate money that we have to appropriate for these capital expenditures for years without having a total appropriation every year for the total project either to be spent or not to be spent,” Clark said at the meeting.

For 2016-17, the board is appropriating the amount they can safely expect to spend over the course of the full year, authorize payments from the total and return left over money to the general fund, said Clark.

“There’s nothing illegal about it either way, but the truth is we were always advised that it was okay to do. But then we were told it might be better to do it this way, so we are doing it this way,” he said. “It is an estimate, there will be sufficient money appropriated tonight to handle what we assume will be more than the expenditures we expect over the next three years.”

Chairman Haywood Hamlet began the June 20 public hearing by addressing the accessibility concerns raised at the board’s monthly meeting on Tuesday, June 14.

He said the board was scheduling a meeting with Glavé and Holmes architect Randy Holmes as well as Warren Byrd and Susan Nelson, landscape architects based in Charlottesville and the creators of Option C architectural design presented by Kathy Liston on June 14.

“Our project manager made us aware of deficiencies with accessibility of the new courthouse last week. We were informed that many citizens were also concerned at the meeting last week,” said Hamlet.

The chairmen then noted public comments while the hearing was in session should regard the budget changes on the evening’s agenda.

“The public hearing is limited to discussion relating to the budget, please direct your comments to the budget only. Public comment regarding design will be welcome after the meeting,” he said.

The majority of Charlotte County residents who signed up to speak at the public hearing held their comments until after the meeting.

Three of the four were ready to discuss their concerns with the courthouse project overall rather than the budget amendments specifically.