During VDOT’s presentation to the Board of Supervisors Jeff Lineberry outlined the current situation surrounding the temporary entrance that has tangled easements for the new Clarke County High School. The process continues to move forward, but as the final strategy for the temporary entrance is negotiated, the prospect of school funds being used for Mosby Blvd becomes more likely.
Representatives for the School Board and Town of Berryville met Monday in an attempt to iron out remaining issues regarding easements and other details of the Special Use Permit for the project. Referring to the outcome of the meeting Mr Lineberry said,”I think everything has been worked out. It’s just a matter of getting it into the final plat.”
Lineberry made reference to a clause in the special use permit that was a result of the joint meeting that would allow the temporary entrance to be phased in to the project based on VDOT’s progress with Mosby. This would allow the project to move forward while developing the temporary entrance only to the level deemed necessary for construction use.
“It is our preference, that if we are making progress, that the temporary entrance is not built.” said Lineberry.
This sentiment has been voiced several times in the project because if Mosby is completed then the temporary entrance will need to be torn out. However, as of now there is a $200K funding gap and VDOT has made it clear there will be no additional funds for this project. There is still hope that the estimate that VDOT is using in this phase will be revised at the engineering phase and the final cost could be reduced.
If a funding gap still remains one option is “Revenue Sharing” where a locality contributes 50% of the funds for the shortfall and VDOT matches the remaining 50%. However Mr Lineberry painted a bleak picture for this scenario stating, “That is a very competitive thing right now,” and added that Revenue Sharing, “Requires contributions of over 1 million dollars to participate.”
The only other option, and one that sparked a spirited discussion among board members, was the possibility of the locality paying the funding shortfall. When Mr Lineberry mentioned this option Supervisor Barbara Byrd responded, “By local funding you mean, more money coming from the locality, which would mean ultimately higher taxes?”
Board Chair Michael Hobert responded, “Not necessarily.”
Referring to bids that were submitted on Wednesday for the high school project, Mr Hobert said, “The bids that are going to be opened will have an alternative bid that relates to the temporary road so we will see the cost of the temporary road and at some point, I assume we will have some discussion with the school district on whether that amount would be set aside from the budget which theoretically could be used to supplement this [Mosby] if we did not build the temporary road.”
Dunning questioned using the funds for the road then Barbara Byrd asked, “Wouldn’t you rather use that money on the school?”
Supervisor David Weiss weighed into the discussion, “We’ve had this discussion, we’ve had this discussion for months and months. The town says the road is necessary, we’ve agreed with the town. Let’s not wind ourselves up again with that.”
As Mr Lineberry finished his report Mr Hobert solicited questions from the board.
Barbara Byrd said, “So the school actually ends up paying for Mosby.”
Several board members said, “No.”
Ms. Byrd responded, “Yes, because it’s money that you are putting aside from the funding for the school to build the temporary road which you’re not going to build, but you put the money aside from the school funding to use for Mosby because the temporary road is never going to really be built. It sounds like a Trojan horse to me.”
Supervisor Pete Dunning closed the discussion about Mosby saying, “It is messy, but let’s move on.”
Bids for the High School project will be opened on Friday. The numbers that are revealed for the alternate cost of the temporary entrance may determine who pays for the “last mile” of Mosby Blvd.