The Wise County Board of Supervisors met in a Regular meeting on Thursday, February 12, 2009 at 6:00 p.m. in the Board of Supervisors meeting room located in the Wise County courthouse. The following were present:
Honorable Robert E. Robbins, Jr. – Chairman
Honorable J. H. Rivers – Vice-Chairman
Honorable Steve Bates
Honorable Robert R. Adkins
Honorable Fred Luntsford
Honorable Ronald L. Shortt
Honorable Dana Kilgore
Honorable Virginia Meador – members of said Board and
Shannon C. Scott – County Administrator
Karen T. Mullins – County Attorney
Annette Underwood – Executive Secretary
Steve Bates led in prayer.
All led in the pledge of allegiance to the flag.
A motion was made by Fred Luntsford, seconded by Dana Kilgore, to approve the minutes as presented. The motion was unanimously approved.
IN RE: AGENDA
The following items were reviewed for addition to the agenda:
A motion was made by Fred Luntsford, seconded by J. H. Rivers, to approve the agenda to include the additions as stated. The motion was unanimously approved.
IN RE: PUBLIC EXPRESSION
Bob Harrison addressed the Board regarding a proposed recycling center to be located on US 58A near Clinch River. Russell County has proposed a solid Waste recycling center on US-58A near St. Paul. The Town of St. Paul is opposed to this center and addressed the Russell County Board of Supervisors to express their concern about the site. He said, too, that Robert Mullins, the Building & Zoning Administrator has stated that DEQ does not require a permit for this site.
Mr. Harrison noted the problems that a recycling center would create in this area which include polluting of the water intake and creating a safety hazardous for lack of site distance. He asked the Board to review the information provided them and consider sending a letter to Russell County and/or the VDOT Resident Engineer in Lebanon with the concerns of the citizens and the negative impact this center would have on the surrounding community as well as citizens traveling that highway.
There was some discussion on other sites that have been established for a recycling center in the surrounding area.
Mr. Harrison read a letter protesting the current reassessment of all properties in St. Paul especially the Gray Hills Subdivision which seem to be much higher than the majority in Wise County. The property values do not correspond to today’s market values. In this letter, he asked for qualifications of the assessors to ascertain whether or not they were certified to asses the property. The property in Gray Hill has gone up approximately 28% which means a 28% tax increase. He asked the Board to take the increase of the reassessment consideration when setting the tax rate for 2009.
He voiced his concern regarding school consolidation. All communities in Wise County are drawn together by their schools. When schools are closed, the communities suffer. The stimulus package that is forthcoming has funds for education which include renovation of schools. He asked that the Board consider this when consolidation/renovation is being considered.
Marlene Bush, a resident of Appalachia, voiced her opposition to the consolidation of the six high schools. She spoke of the $92,000,000 that has been placed in the budget for school consolidation. Figures were mentioned as to the extra expense of consolidating the schools. Her concern was for the repayment of this debt and the burden on the tax payers in years to come. She noted the condition of the land around her home that has been ravished by strip mining which has devalued her home and property. The assessed values of the homes in the coal mining camps have been over assessed and the home owners would not be able to sell their homes under these conditions. She further asked that the Board not place the County in such debt that our grandchildren will have to carry the burden of paying the price. Jobs in the area are few and coal severance tax will eventually be gone which has been a revenue stream for the County for some time now. The stimulus package has funds for renovation of schools. That would be an option for the Board in making a decision on renovation or consolidation.
Harold Greear, a resident of Pound, spoke briefly on the sites for the proposed schools. In his observation, there is a strong possibility that there will be a loss of students because many will refuse to attend the new schools. He offered several options if this were to become an issue.
Nancy Davis, a resident of Norton, addressed the Board regarding a letter from her landlady asking residents of Shawnee Ridge Apartments to move from their apartments for remodeling purposes. Some of the people are elderly and disabled and she was concerned about them becoming homeless. She feels that their rights have been violated.
Ms. Davis also spoke briefly on the County’s Solid Waste Ordinance and private landfills.
Walter Crouse, a resident of District 4, addressed the following issues:
Debbie Baca, a resident of St. Paul, asked the Board to think about the consequences of consolidation. The word is that consolidation will save money on operational costs. The State of West Virginia consolidated 300 high schools from 1990 to 2000. Forty-two out of 45 counties were spending more on administrative costs, transportation, and spending more overall. It was said by Mark Warner that if the County is going to give up on the small towns and communities you can’t expect the rest of your county or state to prosper. The stimulus money is for creation of jobs and infrastructure. She spoke of the proposed tax increase and the fact that the community schools are going to be closed. Ms. Baca said she would bring before the Board, as a presentation, facts and figures on the things she has noted at this meeting to help the Board when making a decision on consolidation.
Sherrie Meade, a resident of Coeburn, voiced her complaint on school consolidation. After speaking with several businesses in Coeburn, they have expressed that if the location of the Coeburn high school is moved the business in down town Coeburn will suffer. She asked the Board to gather all the information regarding closing of the high schools before making any commitments. She further stated that the Town of Coeburn would like more severance tax money for their town as well as the other towns.
There being no further comments the public expression period was closed.
IN RE: ROADS AND HIGHWAYS
Residency Administrator T. G. Branson informed the Board that it was posted on VDOT’s website that the Commonwealth’s Transportation Board will be having a special meeting on Friday the 13th to approve the revised Six Year Plan. The purpose for this is to have the flexibility to apply federal stimulus dollars to the states most pressing needs.
There were few remarks from Board members.
IN RE: CIP PLAN (5) YEAR
A public hearing was held on January 8, 2009 to receive citizens’ comments regarding the proposed five (5) Year CIP Plan for Wise County. There was no opposition to the proposed Plan.
Administrator Scott noted that the project cost for All Projects is -- $209.8 million
The projects for which the County has some participation is -- $129.7 million. The Plan recommended for Board adoption is --$123.9 million. Of that amount, the Board is being asked to consider for FY 2010 the projects amounting to -- $45, 069,427.00. He reviewed those items under each category with an explanation of each item.
Supervisor Kilgore noted that she has some concern regarding the 2010 figures. These figures will be in the upcoming budget and there are some issues she would like to address before any action is taken on this plan.
After discussion, a motion was made by Dana Kilgore, seconded by Virginia Meador, to table any action on the CIP Plan until next month to give the Board more time to study the plan as submitted to them. The motion was unanimously approved.
IN RE: APPOINTMENT PROCEDURE
Attorney Mullins explained the appointment procedure for those appointments not set by statue as follows:
Appointment terms for Boards, Authorities, Commissions and/or Committees that do not have specific term dates set by statute shall begin immediately upon appointment and swearing in, and such term shall end on the last day of the month preceding the month of appointment. However, such appointee shall serve on such Board, Authority, Commission and/or Committee until a new appointee is duly appointed and sworn, as long as such appointment is made within 30 days of the aforesaid term expiration.
After discussion, a motion was made by Ronnie Shortt, seconded by Bob Adkins, to approve the language set forth for appointments not set by statue. The motion was unanimously approved.
IN RE: ORDINANCE – TAX EXEMPT STATUS – WISE VOLUNTEER FIRE DEPT.
A public hearing was held on February 5 to receive citizens’ comments regarding an ordinance exempting the Wise Volunteer Fire Department from taxation. There was no opposition to the proposed ordinance.
A motion was made by Bob Adkins, seconded by Dana Kilgore, to approve the Ordinance exempting the Wise Volunteer Fire Department, Inc. from taxation. The motion was unanimously approved.
ORDINANCE # 2009
(Said Ordinance is on file in the County Administrator’s Office)
IN RE: COUNTY BUDGET FY 2008-09 AMENDMENT
A public hearing was held on February 5 to receive citizens’ comments regarding a proposed amendment to the County Budget for FY 2008-09. There was no public comment regarding the proposed amendment.
A motion was made by Ronnie Shortt, seconded by Bob Adkins, to approve the proposed amendment to the FY 2008-09 budget as presented. The motion was unanimously approved.
Administrator Scott explained that a good number of the budget amendments that have been approved were done because grants have come in that were unknown at the time the budget was prepared as well as other items such as the mobile hospital unit. It has been discussed, that in the future, a public hearing will be held for public comment in the month that a budget amendment is being considered.
IN RE: VIRGINIA COMMISSION FOR THE ARTS LOCAL CHALLENGE GRANT
A motion was made by Fred Luntsford, seconded by Ronnie Shortt, to approve the commitment of $5,000.00 for FY 2009-2010 for the Virginia Commission for the Arts Local Government Challenge Grant as presented. The motion was unanimously approved.
IN RE: BOARD MEETING DATES CHANGE
A motion was made by Bob Adkins, seconded by J. H. Rivers, to hold the March Workshop meeting on the 12th and the Regular meeting on the 18th @ 6:00 p.m. The motion was unanimously approved.
IN RE: REAL ESTATE TAX INCREASE NOTICE
A motion was made by Dana Kilgore, seconded by Bob Adkins, to authorize the advertisement of Notice of Proposed Real Estate Tax Increase and to set a public hearing on said increase for March 12, 2009 @ 6:00 p.m. The motion was unanimously approved.
IN RE: EXTERIOR COURTHOUSE CONTRACT – BALL CONSTRUCTION
A motion was made by Bob Adkins, seconded by J. H. Rivers, to table any action on this item until after closed session. The motion was unanimously approved.
IN RE: BLACKWOOD LANDFILL ENGINEERING CONTRACT
Attorney Mullins noted that she has made one correction to the T&L contract and both parties have agreed to the change.
A motion was made by Bob Adkins, seconded by Steve Bates, to approve the Blackwood Landfill Engineering Contract with Thompson & Litton, Inc. for the design and permitting of Phase IV. The motion was unanimously approved,
IN RE: BUDGET AMENDMENT #30
A motion was made by Ronnie Shortt, seconded by Bob Adkins, to approve budget amendment # 30 as follows:
Source of Revenue – VA State DMV Stop Grant: $2,045.00
Expenditures: (1213) Treasurer (505401) Office Supplies $1,020.00 and (505506) Travel $1,025.00
The motion was unanimously approved.
IN RE: APPOINTMENTS – BOARD OF EQUALIZATION
A motion was made by Ronnie Shortt, seconded by Bob Adkins, to appoint the following individuals to the Board of Equalization:
Jim Flanary (District 1) Bill Wampler (District 2)
Jim Cornett (District 3) Joe Slemp (District 4)
The motion was unanimously approved.
IN RE: BOARD OF EQUALIZATION COMPENSATION
A motion was made by Ronnie Shortt, seconded by Bob Adkins, to set compensation for the Board of Equalization at $100.00 per day to include the day that has been set for training. The motion was unanimously approved.
IN RE: APPOINTMENT – PLANNING COMMISSION
A motion was made by Bob Adkins, seconded by Steve Bates, to appoint Lee Turner to fill the unexpired term of Randy Rigg on the Planning Commission. The motion was unanimously approved.
IN RE: APPOINTMENT – TOURISM COMMITTEE
A motion was made by Steve Bates, seconded by Bob Adkins, to appoint Wayne Mefford to fill the unexpired term of Suzanna Lawson on the Wise County Tourism Committee. The motion was unanimously approved.
Supervisor Luntsford asked whether or not this committee has run its course and if it should be dissolved.
Administrator Scott explained that this committee was established for the purpose of serving the Heart of Appalachia Tourism Authority. This organization (Heart of Appalachia Tourism Authority) continues to exist but is not as active as it once was. The purpose of the Wise County Tourism Committee is to be the liaison between the Board of Supervisors and the Heart of Appalachia Tourism Authority. He further stated that many people feel that Wise County needs an advisory group for tourism from within the County of stake holders in tourism such as those in restaurant business, hotel business, etc.
Attorney Mullins said she would ascertain whether or not there are by-laws for this committee or state requirements that it be a subcommittee to the Heart of Appalachia and report back to the Board on her findings.
Supervisor Kilgore asked that no action be taken on this until the Board has further information on the goals, accomplishments and duties of the committee.
IN RE: APPOINTMENT - SOCIAL SERVICES BOARD
A motion was made by J. H. Rivers, seconded by Virginia Meador, to reappoint George Barton to the Social Services Board for a term of four (4) years. The motion was unanimously approved.
IN RE: APPOINTMENT – LONESOME PINE YOUTH SERVICES BOARD
A motion was made by J. H. Rivers, seconded by Virginia Meador, to table this appointment until next month. The motion was unanimously approved.
IN RE: RESOLUTION – STATE BUDGET REDUCTIONS
A motion was made by Ronnie Shortt, seconded by Dana Kilgore, to approve the resolution requesting the General Assembly and the Governor to use the current economic downturn as an opportunity to review and repeal unnecessary unfunded and under-funded state mandates imposed on localities that do not promote the efficient delivery of critical government services. The motion was unanimously approved.
RESOLUTION # 2009
(Said resolution is on file in the County Administrator’s Office)
IN RE: CLOSED SESSION
A motion was made by Dana Kilgore, seconded by Bob Adkins, to go into closed session per the following Code sections as permitted by the Code of Virginia:
Section 2.2-3711(A)(1) Personnel
Section 2.2-3711(A)(6) Investing of public funds
Section 2.2-3711(A)(7) Legal Matters
The motion was unanimously approved.
After a lengthy closed session, a motion was made by Ronnie Shortt, seconded by Steve Bates to reconvene the regular meeting. The motion was unanimously approved.
IN RE: RESOLUTION – CLOSED SESSION CERTIFICATION
Secretary Underwood read the certification for closed meeting.
A motion was made by Bob Adkins, seconded by Virginia Meador, to approve the resolution verifying matters discussed while in closed session. The motion was unanimously approved.
RESOLUTION # 2009
(Said resolution is on file in the County Administrator’s Office)
IN RE: COURTHOUSE EXTERIOR CONTRACT
A motion was made by Ronnie Shortt to authorize the County Attorney to proceed with the modifications to the Ball Construction contract on the advice of the County Attorney and as discussed in closed session for work to be done on the exterior courthouse. The motion was seconded by Steve Bates. The motion was unanimously approved.
IN RE: FINANCIAL ADMINISTRATOR POSITION
A motion was made by Dana Kilgore to hire David Cox, a C.P.A. and a C.M.A., as Financial Administrator for Wise County. J. H. Rivers seconded the motion. The motion was unanimously approved.
IN RE: COUNTY ADMINISTRATOR POSITION
Supervisor Adkins stated that Mr. Scott has served this County and this Board as Assistant County Administrator for twenty years. He has served diligently and faithfully while doing a marvelous job. Mr. Adkins made a motion to hire Shannon C. Scott as permanent County Administrator for Wise County. Steve Bates seconded the motion. The motion was unanimously approved.
IN RE: COUNTY ATTORNEY POSITION
Supervisor Adkins stated that Karen Mullins has served the County with distinction for seventeen years. In view of restructuring the County Administrator’s Office, she will assume some duties, different authority, and a different job description. Mr. Adkins made a motion to assign more duties and more responsibilities, to Karen Mullins with compensation. Ronnie Shortt seconded the motion. The motion was unanimously approved.
Chairman Robbins noted that Ms. Mullins will have a partnership with the County Administrator and the Financial Administrator as a triad to serve the County in its administrative functions.
Administrator Scott thanked the Board for its vote of confidence noting that this team will do its best to serve the needs of Wise County and move the County forward.
He informed the Board that Bill Smith, Tourism and Marketing Director, was notified after the meeting of the Crooked Road Executive Board that the Tacoma School was approved as a partner of the Crooked Road.
Board members congratulated the “team” that has been chosen to lead the County with the anticipation that the County will move forward to better things.
Supervisor Rivers spoke briefly on the recent reassessment while encouraging citizens go thru the appeals process if they feel the need. He said he would like to know the portion of median family income that goes toward our county taxes to include real estate, personal property, and any decal fees. The county citizens are paying several different fees and it all adds up. What percentage of the median income is that?
Supervisors Rivers also asked that the Board agenda be placed in the newspaper at the time of the Board meeting to give the citizens notice in advance of issues the Board will be addressing. The reason for this is to give the Board creditability and it is also a legal issue.
A motion was made by Ronnie Shortt, seconded by Dana Kilgore, to adjourn the meeting. The motion was unanimously approved.
ATTEST: WISE COUNTY BOARD OF SUPERVISORS
Shannon C. Scott, Clerk Robert E. Robbins, Chairman