By William J. Des Rochers, Fluvanna Field Officer
Fluvanna’s supervisors approved a five member redistricting plan at their July 6th meeting. Despite substantial and vocal citizen opposition, the Board voted four to two to reduce its size by one. Supervisors Don Weaver (Cunningham) and Chris Fairchild (Rivanna) voted against the plan. Mr. Fairchild’s seat will be eliminated.
Citizen opposition was strong. Three quarters of the fifteen speakers spoke against the proposed five member Board; most of them advocated increasing the representation to seven. There were two basic arguments: more representatives bring representation closer to the people, and the five seat Board was a politically motivated decision.
In its current alignment, the reduction to five certainly will make the Board more liberal. Fairchild is the second most conservative member of the Board and, assuming both supervisors John Gooch (Palmyra) and Mozelle Booker (Fork Union) win their reelections bids, they will offset conservative supervisors Weaver and Shawn Kenney (Columbia), giving the moderate Joe Chesser (Rivanna) the swing vote.
The supervisors also voted to provide each full-time county employee a $500 bonus. Employee salaries have been frozen for three years and the funds will come from the yet to be determined FY 2011 budget surplus.
After the meeting, the Board reconvened for a work session regarding their goals for the county. A majority of the Board listed economic development as the most important priority for the county. But the informal discussion quickly turned to the anticipated budget shortfalls over the coming years.
Supervisors rejected a proposal to create a blue ribbon commission to examine the issue and provide recommendations. Instead, they opted for a “supervisors and friends” concept wherein each supervisor would select a person to assist in the deliberations and provide guidance to the particular supervisor.
The seven hour session provided at least two clear signals: the future five member Board will address economic development issues and have to aggressively address upcoming budget deficits.
William Des Rochers serves as Free Enterprise Forum’s Fluvanna County Field Officer. The Free Enterprise Forum is a privately funded public policy organization covering Albemarle, Greene, Fluvanna, Louisa and Nelson county as well as the City of Charlottesville. If you find this update helpful, please consider financially supporting these efforts.