By. Bryan Rothamel, Field Officer
What seemed like a routine Fluvanna County Board of Supervisors meeting and an even more routine item became a battleground for the two most conservative supervisors.
Don Weaver (Cunningham District) and Bob Ullenbruch (Palmyra District) used the opportunity of a smaller board to allow a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the Jefferson Area Board for Aging (JABA) and Fluvanna County to go without action.
The MOU is for Fluvanna Parks and Recreation department to handle the nutritional program provided twice week for less than 25 participants. The proposed MOU would set the guidelines for the program that is administered by JABA but served by a Fluvanna staff member.
Currently, the program is administered and served by JABA but Fluvanna’s FY15 budget cut funding for serving the program because the plan was to handle it in house in an effort to expand Fluvanna’s senior programs.
That FY15 budget won’t begin until July 1 and it passed on a 3-2 vote, with Ullenbruch and Weaver not voting for it.
In order for JABA to operate with due diligence, it would need the MOU to show the program is being served correctly.
Mike Sheridan (Columbia District) moved to pass the MOU. Chairwoman Mozell Booker (Fork Union District) called for a second. Weaver and Ullenbruch stayed quiet.
Tony O’Brien (Rivanna District) was not at the meeting. Sheridan, O’Brien and Booker voted for the FY15 budget.
“I think people are tired of increase services and cost,” said Weaver after the motion died without the required second.
The move shocked the very small audience, including county staff.
“I’m a little mystified,” said county administrator Steve Nichols.
Weaver also noted he doesn’t like MOUs in general, it was mentioned the county attorney does not like MOUs either.
“I’m satisfied this does what it was intended to do,” said county attorney Fred Payne in response to his dislike of MOUs.
“It lays out the two responsibilities of the two parties.”
Payne said the county could proceed without the activity, take it over without JABA’s support or abandon the whole process.
Because the JABA budget was decreased, Booker asked what they were to do with the activity.
“If we want them to continue what they have been doing, we need to transfer the money [back],” said Booker.
Weaver was content for JABA to continue the program with the budget that was granted without an additional transfer.
“Just leave it where it is before they came before us,” said Weaver when asked what county staff should do. He later said, “They live within the budget.”
Ullenbruch raised issue the program was too far from the majority of Fluvanna’s seniors.
“You are 13 miles from 50 percent of the senior population,” said Ullenbruch referencing Lake Monticello as the epicenter of senior domiciles.
He later kept counting the meals served, at 22.
“I understand you arguing for this, it is for your district,” said Ullenbruch to Booker.
Sheridan responded to Ullenbruch, “Most of my district is further than that (13 miles). Putting a senior center at Lake Monticello would make it further.”
Sheridan suggested using county buildings such as fire stations for senior events throughout the county. Booker and Nichols said the county is starting to do more senior events at various county locations, not just in Fork Union.
“I would readdress it if [county staff] follows through on what you just said,” Ullenbruch said to Nichols on the plans to expand senior outreach to beyond just the Fork Union Community Center.
Booker continued the discussion beyond the agenda item on how the board wants the program to continue. As it wound down she said, “I’m glad we had the discussion we’ve had because it has opened my eyes that we need more education [for the board].”
The interesting aspect of the item is it did not fail but failed to gain a second; it was not outright rejected.
“Might be something we address next time,” Sheridan said at the end of discussion.
The MOU could be readdressed with a full board and it would be expected to pass, if it could get O’Brien’s support. More than likely it would because the JABA budget was decreased specifically because the county planned on bringing the program in-house, a budget O’Brien supported.
In a follow-up odd move in the same meeting the next item on the agenda, re-appointments to the Economic Development Authority, had a prolong time to get a second too. It eventually was seconded and passed unanimously.
The motion for adjournment, hours later, had no issue getting a second and unanimous vote.
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