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WYDaily sent an identical questionnaire to each candidate running for the Roberts District seat on the James City County Board of Supervisors.
Incumbent John McGlennon faces Heather Cordasco, who is currently vice chairwoman of the Williamsburg-James City County School Board. McGlennon’s answers are unedited and presented below.
The election takes place Nov. 3.
Read a completed questionnaire from Cordasco here.
1. What do you feel are the three major issues facing the county right now? What are your ideas on how to address those issues?
Three major issues confronting James City County today are maintaining our quality of life and community character; preparing our county government to deal with significant infrastructure and financial needs; and maintaining a high level of services for our citizens. As a member of the Board, I have advocated high standards for proposed development and sought ways to limit our rapid rate of growth. I’ve fought to protect historically important land from development and to retain a rural, small town feel.
I have supported policies to build our financial reserves and pay down our long-term debt in order to be ready for the costs of finding new water sources and meeting our capital needs for schools, roads and other public services.
Finally, I have supported services like our park and recreation program, our library and schools which bring great value to the community, and our public safety officers and programs that do such a good job of keeping us safe.
2. Talk about the effects of the real estate tax rate increase on the county and its citizens. If elected, what factors will you consider when setting the property tax rate for fiscal year 2017?
I will consider, as always, the cost of doing business for the county to meet the standards expected by our citizens, look for opportunities to do our job more efficiently, and whether any changes in property values suggest that we should adjust the tax rate up or down. This year’s rate increase was necessary to compensate for a decline in property values which had occurred over the past several years. The impact on citizens was generally to return them to the level of tax paid in 2007, after several years of reduced taxes. Those reductions meant we had to dip into cash reserves, and we could not continue to do so without risking our credit worthiness.
3. How do you propose to control growth in the county, particularly in light of concerns about the Primary Service Area’s effectiveness and school capacity?
I have strongly supported maintaining our Primary Service Area, our growth boundary tool, until we can find a more effective way to limit and direct growth. I support cash proffers, to require new growth to pay a larger share of the costs that it imposes on citizens. As Chariman of the High Growth Coalition, an organization of two dozen fast-growing Virginia communities, I have worked to get the legislature to give local government more power to deal with growth issues, something we do not possess today.
4. Stormwater issues were at the forefront of budget discussions earlier this year. County stormwater officials identified several communities that lack the drainage infrastructure needed to deal with runoff. How would you direct the county to manage drainage issues?
I have supported funding to deal with the most serious issues with the advice of the Storm Water Advisory Committee, a group of citizens appointed by the Board of Supervisors to study and rank the needed projects. Based on those priorities, we are moving ahead with several projects this year, and will continue to do so for the next several years, addressing each community’s needs in order. We are also supporting a Neighborhood Drainage Improvement program for smaller projects in which local home owner associations are matching county funds to deal with issues.
5. The James City Service Authority is exploring alternative water sources in response to declining water levels in underground aquifers. One option is a multi-million deal JCSA first signed in 2008 to purchase water from Newport News Waterworks. How would you address the county’s water needs in light of a depleting groundwater supply? Would you look to renegotiate the deal James City County has with Newport News Waterworks? Why or why not?
We are currently conducting a study to identify the options available to the JCSA. We made the agreement in 2008 with Newport News in the expectation that the King William Reservoir would be built. Once that project was denied a permit, I told the Board that we should not proceed with the second payment plan, but consider renegotiation with Newport News or searching for alternatives to meet our needs. That is what we are doing now.
6. James City County has sought state grants to help fund some of its major transportation initiatives and road projects. Which transportation issues do you think should be priorities for the county, if any?
We have established three priorities: The Skiffes Creek Connector project linking our lower county industrial parks with Route 143 and I-64 to make transportation more efficient and move truck traffic off of Route 60 East; improving Route 60 East through Grove to make it more accessible for residents and to provide bus pull-offs and sidewalk/trail improvements; and Longhill Road. These are our top projects, and it is likely that we will have to find ways to draw the state and federal dollars in a highly competitive environment.
7. The James City County Board of Supervisors has expressed its opposition to Dominion’s preference to build a switching station on county land. What is your opinion on Dominion’s proposed power line crossing the James River and the proposed switching station? Would you vote to grant Dominion’s rezoning request? Why or why not?
We have not taken a position on this application yet. I do not believe that the power lines should be brought across the James on seventeen 300-foot tall towers, but could be brought through lines run under the river or in a different location. I do have questions about health and safety with the Siffes Creek station that I will look to Dominion to address, and I am very concerned that Dominion’s business strategy leaves the Peninsula without an;y local source of power generation, when they could have converted the coal-fired plants in Yorktown to cleaner natural gas plants.
8. The Board of Supervisors redesigned its public comment period earlier this year to give more consistency to the start time of public hearings. How do you feel about the change? Would you adjust it or keep the new system?
I have heard complaints that some citizens do not like having to wait until the end of the meeting to speak. I would be happy to adjust the schedule to accommodate that, but it is also true that we currently allow more access than most communities, and Board meetings should be first and foremost about doing the official business of the county.