Editor’s note: this is a developing story and will be updated with further information on Wednesday, July 29.
The Greene County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to request withdrawal from the Rapidan Service Authority (RSA) at its Tuesday, July 28, meeting, citing the fact that RSA has not completed its second purpose in its 50 years: to build an impoundment near Stanardsville.
RSA was established in 1969 as regional authority with the counties of Greene, Orange and Madison.
Another reason cited in the resolution the 4-2 decision of the RSA Board of Members at its regular meeting on Thursday, July 16, to end facility fee billing on monthly water and sewer bills from RSA, effective immediately, and voted to require water hookup fees be submitted to RSA. The RSA board is comprised of two members from each of the member counties. The two opposing votes came from Greene County Board of Supervisors Chairman Bill Martin, Stanardsville, and Greene County Planning Commissioner Ron Williams.
That vote occurred two days after the Greene County Board of Supervisors unanimously voted on Tuesday, July 14, to move forward with the plan to fund its water project by raising facility fees for users annually for the next four years, beginning Jan. 1, 2021.
“The copy of the motion was given to Mr. Martin for the first time when the motion was made orally to the RSA board. The motion was being so hastily acted upon that Mr. Martin had to interrupt the RSA board chairman’s call for a vote,” Greene County Administrator Mark Taylor said. “Each of these actions is contrary to agreements signed by RSA and Greene County. The RSA board’s actions at their meeting on July 16 demand response from Greene County.”
Taylor said it appears that RSA board thinks Greene County taxpayers—everyone who pays real estate tax—should pay a bigger share of the cost of the water project.
“But, setting Greene County’s tax rates is the Board of Supervisors job, not RSA’s,” he said.
In September 2017 the county heard from Stantec a plan to pay for the Greene County Water Treatment Plan and White Run Reservoir project using facility fees, water hookup fees, water costs and 7.5 cents per $1 of real estate taxes.
“Greene County has been moving forward on our water supply plan and we’ve spent millions of dollars—more than $11 million, in fact—advancing our plan forward,” Taylor said during the board’s emergency meeting on July 21. “RSA has participated in our design meetings, has visited a water treatment plant to see the technology in our design in a situation where it’s in use and they have commented on our plans.”
The county has purchased 125 acres for a proposed 900-million-gallon reservoir and a 1,460-foot-long, 75-foot-high dam on land between Watson, Fredericksburg and Dairy roads in Ruckersville. Currently, water is pumped from the Rapidan River to the treatment plant, which is on U.S. Route 29 south. The county is permitted to withdraw up to 1.5 million gallons of water per day and has an average daily demand, according to an engineering consultant for the county, of 1.2 million gallons of water per day.
Greene County Director of Planning and Zoning Administrator Jim Frydl told the supervisors on July 21 that RSA has signed off on the entrance road to the site. The site plan for the water intake has been through engineering approval and is awaiting owner signature by RSA, Frydl said. Site plans for the water treatment plant and the lake and dam are both under review now by RSA and the county has been receiving comments.
“I hope the public understands; we’re doing it for the citizens of Greene County,” Ruckersville Supervisor Davis Lamb said.
The approved resolution will be sent to the boards of supervisors for both Madison and Orange counties, whose approval is required before Greene is released from its relationship with RSA.
Greene notes in the resolution it will take legal action for breaches of contracts by RSA identified within the resolution.
There were representatives of RSA on the Zoom meeting call, no one directed any questions to them in open meeting. The next regular Board of Supervisors meeting is Tuesday, Aug. 11. The next regular RSA Board of Members meeting is Aug. 20.