by. Kara Reese Pennella, Greene County Field Officer
J. Allen was absent due to illness.
Proclamation regarding “The Big Read” program at Jefferson-Madison Regional Library – Approved Unanimously
Amended Regional Jail Agreement – Approved Unanimously
Rivanna River Basin Commission grant opportunity from National Fish and Wildlife Foundation for the County Park – Approved Unanimously
Virginia Association of Counties (VACo) state budget resolution – Passed by Consensus
Review Rules of Order and Liaison Functions – Unchanged by Consensus
Despite a light agenda the Greene County Board discussed many important issues at their first meeting of February 2009. Budgetary concerns were frequently referenced while addressing issues such as a resolution from VACo and hiring within the Sheriff’s Office. The Board also discussed changes to their policies and announced a new representative to Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission. Other matters addressed in the meeting included a presentation by the Rivanna River Basin Commission a grant proposal regarding stormwater runoff, the regional jail authority and an expanded leash law.
The County’s budget issues were brought to the forefront of several debates. The Board considered and adopted by consensus a resolution from VACo seeking a greater range of taxing authority for localities and asking that the State not provide unfunded mandates. In approving the measure the Board was indicated their support for the resolution, but was not optimistic that the resolution would make much difference.
The budget was also the center of a hiring discussion when the Sheriff’s Office sought permission to fill two vacancies within the Department. The Board of Supervisors recently implemented a hiring freeze which requires agencies to seek Board approval before filling vacant positions. After much deliberation the Board gave the Sheriff’s Department permission to advertise and interview for the positions, but requested that they not hire anyone before more information on the Budget is obtained in March. Board members were afraid if they gave approval to hire now they might end up cutting the same positions during the budgeting process if sufficient funds are not available.
The Board plans to hold its first Budget Workshop on March 4, 2009. All four Board Members present at the meeting agreed that it was going to be a difficult budget session this year. It still remains unclear what additional cuts in State funding the County will face.
On the agenda as “Review Rules of Order and Liaison Functions” was a proposal to limit the term of the chairman on the Board of Supervisors to two consecutive one year terms. B. Peyton had initially requested that the item be added to the agenda; however, he requested that it be withdrawn from the agenda. Noting that this is the last year of his term on the Board, he felt that it was a bad time to change the policy and maybe something that should be changed next year. However, before the Board moved on to the next matter on the agenda, C. Schmitt jumped in to keep the issue alive. He felt very strongly that it would be a good idea to shift the chairmanship around amongst the Board members. He believed that if they rotate every year it would take away from any “personality conflicts” on the Board. M. Skeens noted that it was something that the Board had done before, but felt that if changes were going to be made in the policy it should wait until after the next election cycle takes place. S. Catalano acknowledged that it is possible to be Chair too long, however, there are also many issues that have come up over his time as Chair that require a continuity of leadership beyond one or two years. He also noted that rotating the position more frequently would not change the fact that someone still has to be elected to the position by the Board each time it a new Chair is chosen. He also noted that if the Board was displeased with the Chairman, that person can always be removed. Finally, S. Catalano indicated that he had not decided if he wanted to remain Chairman next year. The Board determined by consensus of 3 to 1 that they would not make any changes to the Board policy on the Chair’s term this year; however, it may be revisited next year.
The discussion provided more questions than answers about the future of the Board of Supervisors. One could not help but wonder if this was thinly veiled attempt by a Board Member to gain leadership of the Board of Supervisors. Also two Board Member’s terms expire at the end of the year: B. Peyton of the Stanardsville District and J. Allen of the Ruckersville District. It was unclear whether B. Peyton meant to imply by emphasizing that this is the last year of his term that he might not seek reelection.
It is also interesting to note that J. Allen of the Ruckersville District stepped down as Liaison to the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission. Andrea Wilkinson of the Ruckersville Citizen’s Council was appointed by the Board to fill that position. This represents a change in Board policy as previously an elected member of the Board of Supervisors served this function.
Rivanna River Basin Commission
Leslie Middleton of the Rivanna River Basin Commission sought approval of the Board to move forward with a grant opportunity from National Fish and Wildlife Foundation for the County Park. The grant would provide the funding for the proposed rain garden at the County Park. The only match required by the County would be staff time. C. Schmitt moved to authorize S. Catalano to sign the letter that would allow the RRBC to move forward in seeking the grant. The motion passed unanimously.
During her presentation L. Middleton also addressed new stormwater regulations that may soon be instituted. The RRBC plans to hold a Developer Round Table in Greene and other counties to counteract “misinformation” about the cost impact of the regulation on new development. In her presentation she noted that implementing the stormwater policy is “control over the way people do business” but indicated that it was for the higher good.
The Free Enterprise Forum is well aware of the stormwater provisions Ms. Middleton mentioned and strongly disagrees with her dissmissive discription of new proposed regulatory barriers that, if enacted, could pose enormous economic harm to localities throughout the state.
The Board of Supervisors voted to approve a modified version of the Regional Jail Agreement. According to the County Attorney the new agreement incorporates changes that would give the County more oversight over the operation of the jail.
The Board also responded to complaints by the public regarding dogs that are not properly leashed in residential areas. After public comment and some discussion the Board requested that staff draft an ordinance revision that would require the leashing of animals in residential areas. The Sherriff’s Office briefly addressed the issue stating they did not expect it to significantly increase the number of complaints they responded to; but instead, would give them the ability to take action when they receive complaints about dogs running loose on other people’s properties.
The next meeting of the Greene County Board of Supervisors will be February 24, 2009 at 7:30 pm.