A new $100,000 boat for the sheriff’s office and seven new fire and rescue staff earned the Louisa County Board of Supervisors’ backing at their Jan. 21 meeting.
The boat was voted on as a supplement to the county’s fiscal year 2021 budget, because it was approved in the middle of the budget year. The $136,416 for the new staff, on the other hand, will come from money the county saved by using federal CARES Act money. That will only pay the personnel costs from April through June; the total cost for the seven personnel on an annual basis is $545,663.
Sheriff Donald Lowe said Marine 11, the boat the department has been using on Lake Anna, is at the end of its life. The new boat is similar to one used by the Spotsylvania County Sheriff’s Office.
“I hate to come ask for this in the middle of the year, but I don’t think we’ll be able to put Marine 11 in service this [summer],” Lowe said.
He said that the primary reason the sheriff’s office needs to patrol the lake is to help protect North Anna Power Station. But growing recreational traffic is another priority.
“It’s a safety issue but also an economic development one,” said Supervisor Duane Adams (Mineral District). “We can’t just keep benefiting from the lake and not provide for the people who come there.”
Adams suggested making a rare use of money from the county’s $15.8 million North Anna Power Station fund. The fund is set aside in the event that the nuclear plant is ever taken out of service for an extended period, and the county loses a significant source of property tax revenue.
Supervisor Toni Williams (Jackson District) said using the NAPS fund would be like tapping one’s savings account, and said it made more sense to use what he described as the county’s checking account, the general fund.
Fire and Emergency Services Chief Robert Dubé said the seven new positions would allow him to increase 24/7 staffing from 14 to 17, with two staff assigned to an ambulance at Trevilians (Company Six) and one at the department’s headquarters on Woolfolk Avenue. There are currently four staff at three stations – Louisa, Mineral and Zion Crossroads – and two at Locust Creek (Company Five).
Dubé said he had discussed the new hires with each of the volunteer fire and rescue squad agencies, and everyone is on board.
The new positions are included in County Administrator Christian Goodwin’s preliminary budget for fiscal year 2022. Finance Director Wanda Colvin presented the supervisors with a first look at the budget, which includes a two percent salary increase for county staff. A salary hike was in last year’s budget but was postponed after the coronavirus pandemic began. Each one percent increase in salary for county staff would cost $170,000, Colvin said.
Besides the seven fire and rescue staff, Goodwin proposed hiring a new custodian for $44,000 and an assistant county attorney for $93,000.
On the revenue side, Colvin said the county is projecting a 28 percent increase in sales tax revenue, or $1.1 million. Offsetting that somewhat are steep declines in parks and recreation and revenue recovery funding, as the pandemic has led to less use of county programs and fewer calls for emergency assistance.
Board Chairman Bob Babyok (Green Springs District) indicated meetings will be scheduled beginning in February to discuss the budget in more detail.