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County revenues were higher than expected last year

County revenues were higher than expected last year

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HANOVER -- As the end of the year approaches, members of the Hanover County Board of Supervisors have traditionally received updates and performance reviews from various departments during Fiscal Year 2019-20 that ended in June.

Last month those updates continued as the panel met for its November meeting.

Lauren Null, Financial Services director, presented the county’s 2019-2020 financial update (CAFR) that provides a dashboard of final figures regarding revenues and expenditures and other items.

FY 2020 revenues totaled $263.4 million or an increase of 1% from the appropriated budget. Revenues were $3.5 million percent higher than expected, while expenditures were $16 million under budget.

“The combination of this additional revenue and lowered expenditures result in an operating balance of $20.3 million, which is primarily planned for use in FY21 county and school budget,” Null told the supervisors.

“Of the $27.6 million in fund balance assignments, $7.5 million has already been appropriated by the board for the FY21 budget and assigned for subsequent five-year plans,” Null said.

Projected plans for education, economic development, reserves, capital projects and public works, storm water and transportation amount to $20 million.

The fund reserve balance for FY20 is about $35.6 million or 13.5% of revenue, an increase of .2%.

The complete County Annual Financial Report is available on the county’s website, https://www.hanovercounty.gov/.

Assistant County Administrator Frank Harksen presented supervisors with a year-end report on the Community Development Department that includes building inspections, Parks and Recreation, Planning, Public Utilities, Public Works, and libraries.

“The one thing all these departments have in common is that they directly serve residents of Hanover County every day,” Harksen said.

Harksen also provided an update on the department’s reaction to COVID-19 and noted the pandemic closed Hanover offices for only one day.

“When we were back in business the next day, we continued to accept and process permit and planning applications, perform inspections, install meters, conduct public meetings, and provide curbside library pickup,” Harksen said. “Day-to-day activity continued as well.”

“This was a big task and required the combined support of many county departments,” he added.

Harksen said several county wastewater plants received high marks from oversight agencies and a number of significant water projects occurred in 2020, including the Elmont Tank and Pump Station.

Storm water programs continued overseen by Public Works to satisfy Chesapeake Bay regulation and daily TDML (Total Daily Maximum Load) requirements passed by the state.

Road projects completed during the FY2019-2020 period included the Creighton/Cold Harbor roundabout, the ongoing Sliding Hill widening scheduled for completion near the end of the year.

More than $4 million was obtained for the Atlee Station Road widening project, and applications were submitted for several other major projects.

A corporate hangar was completed at the Hanover County Airport and designs for the new East Side Terminal were completed, all part of an ambitious ongoing airport improvement project. Funding is approved and will take advantage of 87% funding derived from state monies.

The news also was some positive news for Parks and Recreation. “We continue to host larger events and landed the 2021 NCAA Men and Women Cross Country championships,” Harksen said.

But there’s no hiding the major effects the pandemic had on the department, forcing the cancellation of more than 70 classes and events, the absence of the annual Hanover Tomato Festival and delaying a planned 300th Birthday Celebration nixed when the coronavirus hit.

Even with the pandemic, Harksen said visitation to county parks increased with about 1.5 million visitors.

“People were using our parks as a way to get out of the house and enjoy the scenery while practicing social distancing,” the assistant county administrator said.

Libraries across the county continued to partner with schools to encourage library card acquisition and pivoted quickly to curbside delivery while facilities in other localities closed.

“Customers were able to borrow materials, get computer files printed and received cheer packages,” Harksen said.

The new Atlee Library opened its doors earlier this year to rave reviews.

Harksen said the county’s population rate grew at a rate of 1.8%, resulting in about 110,000 people.

Residential water usage was up, but overall water production was down due to the Bear Island closure.

He noted the county has lost ground in the drainage department with the removal of inmate assistance when COVID-19 hit.

“That generally resulted in six to 10 people a day assisting drainage ditch clearing, pot or sink hole repair, mowing — all of these very labor intensive,” Harksen said.

Contractors have been hired to assist in the clearing efforts.

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