JCC Board of Supervisors Stonehouse District Q&A: Jim Kennedy

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Jim Kennedy JCC PhotoWYDaily sent an identical questionnaire to each candidate running for the Stonehouse District seat on the James City County Board of Supervisors.

Incumbent Jim Kennedy faces newcomer Sue Sadler. Kennedy’s answers are unedited and presented below.

The election takes place Nov. 3.

Read a completed questionnaire from Sadler 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?

  1. Water (long term needs) we need to work in earnest with DEQ and Commonwealth to determine the most cost effective solution for this ongoing problem. If desalinization of ground water is still an option explore it, if desalinization of surface water is the only option we must evaluate the costs and the commitment of the DEQ .
  1. Land Banking: We must establish a land banking program for future County needs. I was a proponent of the purchase of the Warhill property that has been utilized to for Thomas Nelson Community College, Warhill High School and our new Police and public Safety Facility.
  1. The loss of funding for schools and roads from the Commonwealth of Virginia. The General Assembly has neglected their duties of providing funding for public education, and roads projects for our community. The continued reduction in state funding has placed a strain on our finances, and long term budget planning. We must continue to support our schools, and we need to prepare for future road costs by establishing a roads fund.

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 have no plans to increase the real estate tax rate in FY2017, or beyond. I have also committed to reducing the rate if assessments rise to a great degree, I did so during the budget process. The increase was needed at this time to continue the quality of life we have all come to expect in James City County. I would further add that JCC is one of only a few localities that does NOT collect taxes for utilities and car decal fees, and the storm water tax was eliminated in 2008. Our tax rate today is lower than FY2001 when I took office.

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? 

Growth rates are market driven, the recession has reminded us of that. The pace of growth has been the problem in JCC over the last 2 decades, often times it was too fast to absorb and provide adequate public facilities for. I have asked that the question of population and planning for future population growth be part of our long term planning process. The PSA discussion is scheduled to take place this coming year, and I’m sure new discussions about schools will take place shortly as well.

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?

The issues of drainage and how to handle them are being addressed with our most recent budget. The County Administrator,  Bryan Hill, is working diligently with the board to plan for future needs and current critical needs facing our neighborhoods.

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?

I have already asked that we renegotiate the deal with Newport News Water Works. We are also currently exploring several other options at the moment. Some of the options being pitched by others are far too costly, estimates could be in the billions of dollars. The cost for surface desal isn’t inexpensive either, but since our major investment for groundwater desal is now being reduced by the DEQ we face much costlier solutions going forward. We must clear debt capacity to deal with these costs since the JCSA would not be capable of borrowing the amounts needed to move forward on may of these projects.

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?

Route 60 in Grove has been an issue for a great number years and is a priority.

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?

I do not discuss votes prior to hearing a case, it is unfair to all parties involved.

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?

The change was needed, we received many complaints from the business community and citizens attending meetings. The hostility exhibited by some in the audience towards fellow citizens, board members and applicants was frustrating to many. The ultimate change was not my proposal, but it seems to have worked to this point, but I feel it may need a few minor changes moving forward.