$3.2m released for county building projects

The original home of the Louisa Volunteer Fire Department on Woolfolk Avenue, home in recent years to the county's general services staff, is now planned to house the headquarters of the county Department of Fire and Emergency Services. 

The Louisa County Board of Supervisors voted to appropriate $3.2 million in capital improvement funds, including $800,000 for a new fire and rescue station on New Bridge Road.

The list of projects the board agreed to spend money on at its Nov. 16 meeting also includes $1 million for unspecified county facilities. The money could be used for a variety of projects, including relocating several county departments into new or larger quarters.

Money from the federal CARES Act is expected to pay for some of the work, assuming the funds can be spent before the deadline at the end of December. The county had hoped to use this funding to move the registrar’s office to a new location in the town of Louisa. Those plans are up in the air after the town council rejected the proposal on Tuesday.

The county recently bought property on Industrial Drive for the general services department to move into. Now there are plans for the fire and emergency services department to take over the current general services space on Woolfolk Avenue, freeing up room on the ground floor of the county office building for another use. Both projects could make use of portions of the $1 million.

Also in the works is bullet-resistant glass for several county offices that receive the public, such as the community development and health departments. The glass will be a more permanent protection against the risk of coronavirus infection, said Jeff Ferrel, assistant county administrator.

While board members were pleased to have federal assistance to help move county building projects forward, they opposed a motion by Supervisor Willie Gentry (Cuckoo District) to put an enclosed aquatics center back in the capital improvement plan.

Gentry asked the board to consider spending $5 million on a pool facility over two years, rather than the $8.2 million proposal that was on the table last spring. He said the pool will never have a chance at funding unless it is restored to the capital plan. But his motion failed, 6-1.

Other board members said a bigger budget priority is to find $15 million to help pay for broadband expansion. The supervisors voted to set aside that amount of money for broadband at a meeting earlier this year, but have not said how they will fund it.

The capital projects for which funds were appropriated this week were in the fiscal year 2021 budget that the supervisors approved in April. The board decided to delay appropriation because of uncertainty about how the coronavirus pandemic would affect tax revenues. In recent months, revenues have been stable, thanks in no small part to $6.4 million in federal relief.

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