By William J. Des Rochers, Fluvanna Field Officer
Last December unbeknownst to Fluvanna County Supervisors, the acting county administrator, Darren Coffey, authorized pay raises to numerous county employees, even as the Board was signaling that there would no increases for yet another year.
Details are murky but according to several sources the amount in question is about $120 thousand (annualized), and department heads were authorized to determine the amount employees received. One well-placed source said that employees also were instructed to remain silent about the issue.
It is this “cone of silence” that has vexed some supervisors. It suggests, according to one, that senior staff anticipated that supervisors would react badly if the pay hikes were publicized. County employees have not received any pay raise for four years, and personnel turnover is currently running at just under 20 percent per year.
One supervisor also may request a state investigation into the issue. This supervisor stated that the Board no longer trusts senior staff and it would be ludicrous to ask the staff to investigate themselves.
Supervisors met in closed sessions that lasted for several hours at both the start and end of the scheduled Board meeting on March 7th. The Board removed Mr. Coffey as acting administrator and ordered written reprimands for each department head that participated in the pay hike program.
Board Chairman Shaun Kenney (Columbia) is now interim County administrator. The staff raises have been rescinded but the county will not seek reimbursement of the funds already provided to some 30 employees. According to sources, the cost of recovering the funds might exceed the amount distributed.
In other actions at the meeting, the Board:
· Directed the county attorney to appeal to the Virginia Supreme Court the dismissal of its multi-million dollar lawsuit against Davenport & Co.; and,
· Heard thirteen presentations by local agencies seeking funding contributions for FY 2013.
The staff also presented the 2011 Development Activity Report, which will be the subject of a separate posting.
William Des Rochers is the Fluvanna County Field Officer for the Free Enterprise Forum a privately funded public policy organization.
The Free Enterprise Forum Field Officer program is funded by a generous grant from the Charlottesville Area Association of REALTORS® (CAAR) and by readers like you. To support this important work please donate online at www.freeenterpriseforum.org
Photo Credit: Fluvanna County