Purcellville Staffing Crunch Cited as Threat to State Funding Countywide

Loudoun County government staff members have warned that slow responses from the Town of Purcellville could threaten an important source of transportation funding countywide, as the town government grapples with short staffing, departmental reshuffling and lingering delays from adjusting to COVID-era remote work.

The county has six ongoing capital projects in and around town, including the Fields Farm Park sports complex, the Franklin Park to Purcellville trail, interchanges on Rt. 7 at Rt. 287 and Rt. 690, the Western Loudoun Park and Ride Lot, and Fields Farm Park Road. With the Rt. 690 interchange and Fields Farm Park Road, county staff members said they have had faced delays in getting design plans and plats through the town’s administrative review.

During Tuesday’s meeting of the Board of Supervisors’ finance committee, County Administrator Tim Hemstreet said it is now “probably more than a year” since the county’s administrative applications should have been processed.

And with the sports complex and the park and ride, the county filed legislative applications more than two years ago, with no action yet by the town Planning Commission or Town Council.

Those delays could threaten the two Rt. 7 interchanges and the park and ride, which are partially funded with state money.

After the COVID-19 pandemic began, reported county Design Program Manager Mark Hoffman, there was a “noticeable change” in the town’s responsiveness to the county’s filings. Hemstreet said the delays not only grow costs because of cost escalation and inflation, but could even threaten an important source of state funding, SMART SCALE, for capital projects across the county. Loudoun competes with other localities for that funding, and falling behind the state’s requested schedule for those projects could mean losing it.

“We are in a situation where delays on, particularly, SMART SCALE projects could affect our SMART SCALE applications across our entire CIP,” he said. And he said county staff members would sooner recommend pulling funding for county projects in Purcellville and returning it to the state rather than endangering that state funding countywide by winning it but not using it in a timely manner.

“From the staff perspective, we’re not going to put a funding source as risk such as SMART SCALE because we can’t get through the regulatory process with them,” Hemstreet said.

Purcellville Capital Projects and Engineering Manager Dale Lehnig told the committee those delays are due to difficulties working remotely during COVID-19, a reorganization in town government during that remote work, and that the town has been short a position.

“COVID-19 hit us pretty hard. We are also going through staffing changes where it previously had been a planning department and an engineering/public works department, and we merged those two,” she said. “It was really difficult for me, becoming the new director, to coordinate with staff.”

She said in the past year, the town has gotten up to full staffing, and added more people to review plats. She gave supervisors an update on the more recent work by town staff to get those reviews moving ahead.

Purcellville Town Manager David Mekarski has repeatedly warned the town council that the town government is understaffed; an outside consultant’s review of town staffing levels is expected to be ready this fall.

2 thoughts on “Purcellville Staffing Crunch Cited as Threat to State Funding Countywide

  • 2022-09-14 at 1:29 pm

    I reckon the Mayor forgot to monetize the funding already received.

  • 2022-09-14 at 4:00 pm

    All I can say is, Get With The Program Purcellville!

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