Fulcher issues call for unity

The chairman of the Patrick County Board of Supervisors called for unity and encouraged the board to work together to tackle the problems facing the county.

“We have got to move forward on this and we have to do it together, and stop this stabbing each other in the back,” Rickie Fulcher said at the onset May 13 meeting.

Fulcher’s comments were in response to those made by Lock Boyce of the Mayo River District, who noted that he was angry after he received his real estate tax bill, and questioned the current amount in the general fund as well as the need for multiple bank accounts.

Treasurer Sandra Stone explained the county oversees accounts for some outside agencies. Those funds do not belong to the county and are held in separate bank accounts because Stone is prohibited from co-mingling funds.  

Stone and Fulcher said the current general fund balance includes some real estate tax payments, and that most is allocated to pay expenses for the remainder of the current fiscal year.

Boyce reiterated that he does not understand the reason for the county’s continued deficit.

“I don’t know what’s going on here. I don’t have the time or the expertise” needed to understand, Boyce said. “There is something wrong here. I don’t know how to fix it. I’m not sure I trust anything I’m hearing. I’m not sure I trust anything I’m told.” He noted that county government finances “should be tight, because if it’s not tight, people will steal it.”

Fulcher demanded proof of “all these conspiracy theories. Bring it, let’s see it. I’m tired of this.”

“There is no funny business going on,” said David Rose, of Davenport & Company, a firm retained to help the county navigate the financial difficulties. “The county is in a structurally unbalanced mode. That is how you started the year.”

Rose, who is unrelated to County Administrator Tom Rose, presented a financial update on the county’s budget strategies for the upcoming and subsequent year.

“Starting immediately, in the 2020 fiscal year, you need to do more cuts and more revenue increases,” Rose said. “I don’t want anyone to think we’re out of the woods yet. We’re not.”

The county’s initial proposed spending plan for fiscal 2020 included an estimated $3.5 million deficit. Officials have worked to lower that amount to less than $1 million.

Additionally, the county increased the real estate tax rate and is seeking ways to restructure/realign certain debts for cash flow and interest savings. Rose said the county has received offers to refinance from two lenders, including “an excellent bid from BB&T” for 3.14 percent interest on the $6.1 million tax exempt portion of the debt and 3.5 percent interest on the remaining estimated $850,000, he said.

Three additional institutions also placed bids, including Sterling, First Internet and Crews, documents showed.  

Skyline National Bank provided the current Revenue Anticipation Note, and also bid on providing a second for the upcoming fiscal year, Rose said. First Internet Bank was the single other bidder on the RAN, he added.  

Rose estimated June 24 as the closing date on the restructuring and by July 12 as the closing date on the 2019 RAN.

In other matters, the board:

Held a public hearing on a proposed Six-Year plan with Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT).

Jim Johnson shared problems that plague the five families living along Rattle Snake Lane, which formerly was part of Virginia 57. The roadway now is four-tenths of a mile long. A historic cemetery is located along the road, as is a turnaround spot for a school bus. However, Johnson said the road has deteriorated.

“The people living along Rattle Snake Lane deserve equal, not better, but equal treatment” to those in other areas, Johnson said. “I implore you to reconsider the lack the services those residents are getting.”

The road is owned by VDoT, but it was removed from the secondary road plan many years ago, according to Lisa Price-Hughes, resident engineer for VDoT. As such, the state cannot maintain the road until it is accepted back into the secondary road plan. The county has an up to 5-percent allocation to help pay for the upgrades needed to bring the road to the required standards, she added.

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