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Fiscal Responsibility

       A primary responsibility of the Board of Supervisors is to safeguard the taxpayer’s money.  This is no different than a board of directors of a private company ensuring shareholders’ capital is invested wisely in projects that have a positive return on investment.  Because of this fiduciary responsibility, private companies have business policies and procedures to protect shareholders from conflicts of interest, over paying for projects and services, and pursuing projects that can’t pay for themselves.  Apparently, in Chesterfield County, no such policies exist, and the Board of Supervisors is ok with that.  

 

       A prime example is the operation of the Economic Development Authority of Chesterfield County.  In spite of spending millions of dollars annually and committing the taxpayers to billions of dollars of investment, they operate with little transparency and zero oversight.  The minutes of the April 20, 2023 represent a microcosm of the disdain for the responsibility to protect the interest of the taxpayers in Chesterfield County.  

 

       A quick review of the minutes include several comments and decisions that should give pause to the BOS responsible for the behavior of the CEDA and raise the ire of the taxpayers whose money is being spent:

 

  1. Financial Statements Update Garrett Hart (Director of Chesterfield County Economic Development) states “Debbie Baicy (Chesterfield Accounting Department) participated in a meeting with Timmons Group staff and county employees from the budget and accounting departments.  The outcome of the meeting was to have projections and expenditures for each project provided to include where the funds are generated to ensure availability to support the projects.”

  2. Spring Rock Green update. Garret Hart update describes phase one of the project in which the county “pays for all the infrastructure to build the entire project.” Garrett goes on to provide an update on the county lease of an office building to be built on a pad provided by the county.  The county will relocate school administration staff and Economic Development staff to the new building.  Garret does not mention the building will be owned by the Timmons Group.

  3. Other updates. Garrett reported that “the Upper Magnolia Green project was awarded a Virginia Business Ready Site Program grant to assist with the design and permitting of a pad site and related infrastructure necessary to progress the site to Tier 4 status.  Following the terms and conditions of the performance agreement and in compliance with the procurement procedures of the EDA, Timmons Groups has drafted 3 contracts for services to get to Tier 4 status.”  Tim Davey (Timmons Group) then goes on to review 3 contracts drafted by Timmons.  $6.7M for site design and permitting for a 400 acre pad.  $7M for utility design and permitting. $9.2M for design of a two lane road from Hull Street to the site.  All three contracts are approved with no discussion or debate.

 

       Having spent an entire career in project planning and construction, I find the “business as usual” operation of Chesterfield Economic Development appalling and irresponsible.  No business nor responsible government would allow a bidder for projects and a party to a lease negotiation to review and set budgets.  No responsible entity would award $23M in professional service based on a continuing services agreement and no competitive procurement process.  The fact that the BOS is compliant with the obvious conflicts of interest and lack of concern for cost is not acceptable.

 

       Last, the UMG professional services contracts represent just the tip of the iceberg.  Master planning and site design typically represent +/-1% of the total project cost.  Are the citizens in Chesterfield prepared to spend $2.3B on a rural industrial site with the only access via already failing Hull Street in the midst of rural and suburban developments while the backlog of roads and schools continues to grow unabated? 

 

       As the Matoaca Supervisor I promise I will not sit idly by and allow “business as usual.” I will work diligently to protect the taxpayers of Chesterfield County.  The citizens of Chesterfield deserve better.

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