The Wise County Board of Supervisors met in a Regular meeting on Wednesday, March 18, 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 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
David Cox – Finance Administrator
Annette Underwood – Executive Secretary
Honorable Robert R. Adkins
T. G. Branson 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 additions to the agenda:
A motion was made by Ronnie Shortt, seconded by J. H. Rivers, to approve the agenda to include the additional items as stated. The motion was unanimously approved.
IN RE: PUBLIC EXPRESSION
Debbie Baca, a resident of the St. Paul area, addressed the Board on building three new high schools in Wise County. She remarked that consolidation is an outdated administrative idea that has an unproven record of cost savings benefits and it clearly poses substantial potential harm to the communities. Many of the political leaders know that affective alternatives exist and should be explored. If the County doesn’t invest in the small town and if the towns don’t prosper, then the County doesn’t prosper.
Ms. Baca provided the Board with a PROPOSAL TO SAVE $32,000,000 on the schools. The bottom line being that three (3) new schools have been estimated to cost $91,426,800 and to renovate five (5) schools has an estimated cost of $59,212,999 therefore making a cost savings of $32,000,000.
On February 2007 the School Board was presented renovation/addition costs for --$109,428,809
On April 14, 2008 a newly proposed upgrade plan costs was presented for --$59,212,999
The School Board was presented a Proposal for three consolidated schools, a total square footage of 357,000 for a cost of --$91,426,800. This proposal did not include:
Gyms and athletic playing fields
Purchase of land
Athletic equipment, mascot and school color changes, etc
Her argument to the School Board and the Board of Supervisors is if one of the reasons for consolidation is for loss of enrollment, then why add more than 160,000 sq. feet.
She asked the Board to review all information carefully and be fiscally responsible in their decision.
Danny Stallard, a resident of district 4, voiced his support of consolidating the high schools due to the loss of student enrollment. It is costing the County too much money to operate six high schools with only 2160 students with enrollment decreasing each year.
There being no further public comments, the public expression period was closed at 6:18 p.m.
IN RE: ROAD & HIGHWAYS
Residency Administrator T. G. Branson provided Board members responses from their requests last Board meeting.
Board members voiced needs in their Districts for VDOT review and response.
Supervisor Shortt noted that he had given each Board member a letter addressing snow removal.
He asked that the County Administrator be directed to prepare a letter to the Virginia Department of Transportation stating the need for proper winter road maintenance.
Supervisor Rivers asked for a “Watch for Children” sign to be located on 2805 Sixth Avenue in Big Stone Gap due to several children playing in that area.
IN RE: CONSENT AGENDA
A motion was made by Fred Luntsford, seconded by Ronnie Shortt, to approve the consent agenda as follows:
IN RE: RECESS MEETING
Approved recessing March 18th meeting until Tuesday, March 31, 2009 @ 5:00 p.m.
IN RE: SET PUBLIC HEARINGS
The following public hearings were set:
Set public hearing on April 2, 2009 @ 6:00 p.m. on a proposed ordinance setting deadline for filing with the Board of Equalization
Set public hearing on April 2, 2009 @ 6:00 p.m. on a proposed ordinance exempting Mountain Community Radio from taxation
Set public hearing on March 31, 2009 @ 5:00 p.m. on a proposed CDBG Grant Application for the Wise Inn Project
IN RE: RESOLUTION – SCENIC RIVER GORGE TRAIL CAPITAL REQUEST
Approved the resolution requesting the United States Forest Service, with the assistance of the United Stated Department of Labor Job Corps to construct an outdoor lavatory, latrine or privy at or near the end of the nearly six-mile scenic Guest River Gorge Trail in 2009 or as soon as possible. The motion was unanimously approved.
RESOLUTION # 2009
(Said resolution is on file in the County Administrator’s Office)
The motion to approve the consent agenda was unanimously approved.
IN RE: CNW BOARD MEMBERSHIP
In an earlier memo to the Board, Attorney Mullins stated that the procedure is set forth by statute which requires an agreement, ordinance, or resolution of the governing body of the locality desiring membership and all of the governing bodies of the current members of the authority providing for the joinder of such locality.
The resolution, ordinance and/or agreement shall specify the number and terms of office of members of the Board of the expanded authority which are to be appointed by each of the participating localities and the names, addresses, and terms of office of initial appointments to board membership.
Each member of the authority and the prospective new member shall hold a public hearing after the authority expresses its consent to the joinder. If approved, the prospective member shall make application to the State Corporation Commission and provide all required information and certified documents necessary to an original incorporation.
If all is in order, the State Corporation Commission can issue a certificate of joinder.
Administrator Scott provided three (3) steps that need to be taken if the Board desires to pursue a seat on the CNW Board. CNW Board Chairman Caynor Smith, Jr. informed him that the annual meeting will probably be held in mid-April 2009, at which time Wise County would be given an opportunity to discuss this prospect
After discussion, a motion was made by Fred Luntsford, seconded by Dana Kilgore, to follow the recommendation of the County Attorney and using the steps as set forth to become a member of the CNW Regional Waste Water Treatment Authority. The motion was unanimously approved.
IN RE: SCHOOL BOARD CARRY OVER FUNDS
A motion was made by Ronnie Shortt, seconded by J. H. Rivers, to approve the request from the School Board to carry over this year’s surplus in the amount of $ 500,000 to be used for expenses of FY 2009-2010. The motion was unanimously approved.
Supervisor Rivers commented that with his discussion with Dr. Perry last week, he indicated that this is only state and federal monies and no local monies are being carried forward.
IN RE: TOWN OF WISE SEWER HOOK UP POLICY
A motion was made by Steve Bates, seconded by J. H. Rivers, to adopt the Wise County Policy for Sewer Service Connections for Properties Located in the County but Requesting to Connect to Town of Wise Sewer System as presented. The motion was unanimously approved.
(Said policy is on file in the County Administrator’s Office)
IN RE: COAL SEVERANCE TAX RECEIPTS (FY 2008-2009)
A review of revenue reports for recent months indicate that coal severance revenue is going to exceed the amount budgeted for FY 2008-2009 by approximately $4,400,000.00. As a result, the amount that was budgeted for the general fund is expected to be exceeded by $2,200,000.00.
Administrator Scott provided a number of considerations that the Board could give to this Fy 08-09 unanticipated revenue.
Supervisor Kilgore stated that in looking back, these monies may have already been spent in amended budgets for this year.
Administrator Scott explained that 90% of the budget amendments approved had money with them. For example, the STIP tent and the truck for VDEM had money with them and the large budget amendment of $200,000 was taken from the disillusion of the Duffield Development Authority.
Supervisor Kilgore asked for a summary of expenditures verses anticipated revenue to ascertain if there is an excess fund balance.
There being several unanswered questions regarding the unanticipated funds, a motion was made by Dana Kilgore, seconded by Virginia Meador, to place this item on the March 31, 2009 agenda for further discussion.
Supervisor Luntsford stated that if in fact there are surplus funds that those funds will be spent on those projects with longevity such as the courthouse renovations, sewer projects, and tourism efforts.
Supervisor Rivers stated that the County needs to look at its current budget before these extra funds are committed. He asked that numbers be given that would take into consideration any decreases/increases that have been suggested which would mean less money coming into the County.
Administrator Scott noted that this item was placed on the agenda for discussion only to bring to the Board’s attention the increase in coal severance tax.
Supervisor Kilgore ask to amend her motion to place this item on the April 2 agenda for discussion. Virginia Meador seconded the motion. The motion was unanimously approved.
IN RE: WISE COUNTY FY 2008-2009 BUDGET AMENDMENT
During the preparation of the FY 2008-2009 budget, the Board followed a very conservative route in directing the County Administrator not to include any revenue from Dominion Energy in the revenue projections since there were many unanswered questions regarding the power plant.
Since progress has been made on physical improvements to the Dominion Energy Site at Virginia City, the County now needs to address the revenue that Wise County has received and expects to receive during FY 2008-2009.
During the Fall of 2008, Wise County received revenue in the amount of $32,545.00 and an estimated real estate tax receipts for Spring 2009 in the amount of $454,745.00 for a total of $487,290.00. In the agreement between the Wise County IDA and Dominion Energy, it was stated that Wise County will return to Dominion 50% of tax receipts during the four-year construction period.
With that being said, Wise County will need to return to Dominion by way of the IDA an approximate sum of $243,645.00. Taking this sum into consideration together with the budget amendment to recognize a Virginia State Wireless Board grant in the amount of $120,836.00, additional funds for the Comprehensive Services Act (Children at Risk) in the amount of $200,000 and other budget amendments, the County will exceed 1% of the original approved budget of $46,532,671.79. By exceeding that 1%, the County will need to hold a public hearing at its April 2 Board meeting.
After discussion, a motion was made By Ronnie Shortt, seconded by Dana Kilgore, to set a public hearing on April 2, 2009 at 6:00 p.m. to receive citizens’ comments regarding a proposed amendment to FY 2008-2009 County Budget. The motion was unanimously approved.
IN RE: EXTENSION AGENT INTERVIEWS
Administrator Scott noted that interviews for the final screened applicants for the Wise County Agricultural Agent will take place the last week of March 2009. He asked the Board if they wish to appoint a person to represent Wise County during this local interview process.
A motion was made by Ronnie Shortt, seconded by Fred Luntsford, to appoint Chairman Robbins and Administrator Scott to represent the Board in these local interviews. The motion was unanimously approved.
IN RE: PUMP & HAUL PERMIT – PINE CAMP COMMUNITY CHURCH
A motion was made by Ronnie Shortt, seconded by Fred Luntsford, to approve the request from Hubert Mullins to add the Pine Camp Community Church to the Wise County’s Pump and Haul Permit. The motion was unanimously approved.
IN RE: TREASURER’S REQUEST – DESTROY TAX TICKETS
A motion was made by Fred Luntsford, seconded by Dana Kilgore, to approve the request from Treasurer Smith to destroy paid tax tickets of personal property and real estate for the time period of January 2003- -- December 2003. The motion was unanimously approved.
IN RE: ORDINANCE – ELDERLY AND DISABLED
The Board reviewed the existing real estate exemption ordinance for the elderly and disabled. After discussing the amounts to be exempted the following information was requested prior to the March 31, 2009 meeting:
Supervisor Shortt asked to consider increasing the $32,000 to $50,000. He asked that this amount be calculated as to how it would affect the revenue stream and the number of people this would affect. Also, the combined financial worth which is $75,000 be increased it to $95,000 and the exempted amount of $150 be increased to $250. He asked that these figures be given to the Board prior to the March 31st meeting.
Supervisors Kilgore mentioned the possibility of having some type of tax relief for small business owners. Also, she asked how many people in Wise County pay real estate taxes, and the average home value in Wise County.
There was some discussion on the March 1st deadline for the elderly to sign up on the exemption and the reason for that deadline.
Attorney Mullins explained that the statute sets limits on some of these exemptions. She would review those exemptions and the reason for the March 1st deadline date and report back to the Board on her findings.
A motion was made by Dana Kilgore, seconded by Fred Luntsford, to place this item on the March 31, 2009 agenda for discussion. The motion was unanimously approved.
IN RE: AGREEMENT – FAIRGROUND SEWER PROJECT – PSA OWNERSHIP
Attorney Mullins stated that she has prepared, for Board consideration, an agreement between the Board of Supervisors and the Wise County PSA whereas the PSA will assume ownership and responsibility of the Fairground sewer system and agrees to operate and maintain the sewer facilities completed under the SRWEP grant as a part of its regular operations. It is her understanding that the PSA has accepted the Owner/operation of the fairground system.
A motion was made by Ronnie Shortt, seconded by Fred Luntsford, to approve the agreement between the Board of Supervisors and the PSA as noted by Attorney Mullins. The motion was unanimously approved.
IN RE: AGREEMENT – FAIRGROUND SEWER PROJECT – IDA ADMINISTRATION/CONSTRUCTION
Attorney Mullins reviewed the agreement between the Board of Supervisors and the Wise County IDA whereas the Wise County IDA has agreed to accept responsibility for the Fairground Sewer Project administration and construction in accordance with all requirements of the VDHCD grant and contract regulations. The IDA approved the agreement on its half with Project Administration/Construction at its meeting last evening.
A motion was made by Steve Bates, seconded by Ronnie Shortt, to approve the agreement between the Board of Supervisors and the Wise County IDA as noted by Attorney Mullins. The motion was unanimously approved
IN RE: BUDGET AMENDMENTS # 31 THRU # 37
A motion was made by Fred Luntsford, seconded by Steve Bates, to approve the budget amendments as follows:
# 31 Source of Revenue – VA State Technology Trust Fund $17,508.00 Expenditures
From: General Fund (11) (9302) Capital Outlay (507010) Capital Purchases $17,508.00
To: Develop Fund (80) (2116) Develop (501003) Salaries & Wages Part-time $17,508.00
To allow for use of VA Technology Trust Fund Grant dollars.
# 32 Source of Revenue – Anticipated Future Revenue – Dominion Resources $487,290.00 Expenditures
(8110) Industrial Development Authority (505680) Dominion Tax Credit Allowance $243,645.00 and (9302) Capital Outlay (507010) Capital Outlay $243,645.00
To recognize the receipt and anticipated receipt of real estate tax revenue from Dominion Energy and the anticipated need to return 50% of such as Dominion Tax Credit Allowance.
# 33 Source of Revenue – VA State Wireless Board Grant $120,836.00 Expenditures
(1230) Geographic Information Systems and 911 Information (503002) Professional Services Other $120,836.00
To recognize revenue from the VA State Wireless Board to be used among other things to pay the Timmons Group for on-going 911 address information updates.
# 34 Source of Revenue – Undedicated Fund Balance $200,000.00 Expenditures
(5301) Welfare Administration (505611) Comprehensive Services Act $200,000.00
To show expenditure of funds approved by the Board of Supervisors at their meeting held on December 11, 2008.
# 35 Source of Revenue – Undedicated Fund Balance $15,000.00 Expenditures
(61) (4316) Sewer Service Projects (503002) Professional Services Other $15,000.00
To cover the cost of professional engineering services provided by and expected to be provided by Maxim Engineering for County-wide Sewer Services Assistance and assistance with grants, etc. and technical assistance with Wise County – Town of Wise Sewer Agreement.
# 36 Source of Revenue – Southern River Sewer Service Grant $50,000.00 Expenditures
(61) (4316) Sewer Service Projects (505810) Grant Expenses $50,000.00
To cover the cost of prepayment of costs incurred and to be incurred on the Lower Exeter Project which will be 100% reimbursed to Wise County thru Southern River Grant Funds and the Department of Resources (DCR).
# 37 Source of Revenue – Court Systems Fines and Court Cost Recovery $12,500.00 Expenditures
(22) (2108) Law Library (503004) Repair & Maintenance $1,000.00 (505203) Telecommunications $1,500.00 (505401) Office Supplies $2,000.00 and (505411) Books and Subscriptions $8,000.00
To budget for the recovery of court system fines and court costs in the estimated amount of $12,500.00.
The motion to approve the budget amendments was unanimously approved.
IN RE: COURTHOUSE ENTRANCE – HANDICAP ACCESSIBLE
The Board was provided a diagram of the proposed changes to the front entrances to the courthouse lawn to be considered during the exterior renovations at which time a masonry restoration contractor will be on site to provide expertise in keeping its historic value. This would also make the courthouse lawn accessible to the handicap and any events that take place on the lawn.
Chairman Robbins noted that Thompson & Litton will be contacting DHR to ascertain whether or not making these changes in the wall would make a difference in its historic value.
Mike Ball, Contractor for the exterior courthouse, informed the Board that as far as doing the construction work on the courthouse, the stone walls do not have to be removed; materials can be craned in and out. However, It has been brought to the County’s attention that this would be a perfect time to make the court yard handicap accessible since a work crew is on site to do the work if that were a viable need.
Cost estimates for removal of a portion of the walls will be made available by the masonry restoration contractor that would be doing the work if the County goes that route. Mr. Ball said he had four or five thousand dollars in his budget for craning in and out materials that could be applied to this work.
With the need for cost estimates on the wall removal and an answer from DHR on the historic aspect of the project, a motion was made by Ronnie Shortt, seconded by Dana Kilgore, to place this item on the March 31, 2009 agenda for further information and further discussion. The motion was unanimously approved.
Mr. Scott noted that he had received a letter for Dennis Horton, Executive Director Junction Center for Independent Living, who was very pleased that the Board may consider making these adjustments to the front court yard and accessible for the handicap.
IN RE: APPOINTMENT – LONESOME PINE YOUTH SERVICES BOARD
Ronnie Shortt nominated Blake Robinson to the Lonesome Pine Youth Services Board.
Fred Luntsford made a motion that nominations cease. Virginia Meador seconded the motion. The motion was unanimously approved.
Blake Robinson was appointed by acclamation.
IN RE: APPOINTMENT – COMMUNITY POLICY & MANAGEMENT BOARD
A motion was made by Virginia Meador, seconded by Ronnie Shortt, to reappoint the following individuals to the Community Policy & Management Board for a term of four (4) years:
Sam Dillon – Mental Health
Tom Stanley – Social Services
Paul Kuczko – Youth
Wayne McClellan – Court Service Unit and
To appoint David Cox (County Financial Officer) to replace Shannon Scott
The motion was unanimously approved.
IN RE: APPOINTMENT – RECREATIONAL AUTHORITY
A motion was made by Steve Bates, seconded by Fred Luntsford, to reappoint Robin Dotson to the Recreational Authority for a term of four (4) years. The motion was unanimously approved.
IN RE: RESOLUTION HONORING MEGAN R. SEALS
A motion was made by J. H. Rivers, seconded by Virginia Meador, to adopt the resolution honoring Wise County native Megan R. Seals on her accomplishment of flying zero-gravity. The motion was unanimously approved.
RESOLUTION # 2009
(Said resolution is on file in the County Administrator’s Office)
IN RE: APPOINTMENT – ACTUARIAL RFP COMMITTEE
A motion was made by Fred Luntsford, seconded by J. H. Rivers, to appoint Dana Kilgore and David Cox to represent Wise County on the Actuarial RFP Committee. The motion was unanimously approved.
Supervisor Bates asked that the Recreation budget be increased to $7500 or $8000 if there is extra money in the upcoming budget. He stressed the need for more funding to assist the recreational programs for the youth.
Administrator Scott asked that the Board consider making a contribution in the upcoming budget to assist the towns with their recreation efforts for Wise County citizens.
Supervisor Meador stated that she and Supervisors Rivers attended a reception at the Regional Jail and was very impressed with the condition of the jail. The jail was first opened in 2004 and has been well kept in the meantime.
Supervisor Luntsford spoke briefly on sites for the three (3) new schools. He said if the area chosen is not an issue, he will ask the Board to recommend to the School Board that Appalachia and Pound be used as two of the sites.
Mr. Luntsford stated that last week Dr. Perry was questioned regarding the letter he sent to Congressman Boucher and others for Federal Stimulus funds. In his letter, he indicated that he had a commitment from this Board of Supervisors to fund the construction project which referred to consolidation and consolidation only. Dr. Perry mentioned that he would clarify his letter if the Board of Supervisors chose for him to do that. Mr. Luntsford asked that the County Administrator recommend to Dr. Perry to clarify that position. He said that the extreme sensitivity of this issue needs absolute correctness.
Attorney Mullins was asked whether or not a motion would be needed to have Dr. Perry clarify his letter.
Attorney Mullins noted that a motion would be needed to request another letter be written. However, she recommended caution on the language in that it could cause an additional issue. She suggested having the County Administrator contact Dr. Perry and ask for a copy of the letter that he would propose as a clarification letter and if there is a concern with the language it could be brought back to the Board at the March 31st meeting for further discussion.
Supervisor Shortt asked the Board to look carefully at the exemptions that he has mentioned since it will be a benefit to citizens of Wise County.
Supervisor Kilgore stated that she did not believe Dr. Perry meant to mislead anyone in his letter. She and Supervisor Adkins serve on the Committee with the School Board and they have indicated to the Committee that consolidation is a School Board decision, but the Board of Supervisors would look at the possibility of funding their decision. This could be the reason for Dr. Perry’s choice of words in his letter.
Supervisor Rivers asked that Ms. Bumgarner’s vacant seat on the Social Services Board be placed on the March 31 agenda since she has submitted her resignation. Regarding Dr. Perry’s letter, Mr. Rivers said he did not feel that Dr. Perry overstepped his bounds but the letter was very appropriate and is in the County’s best interest that he find any available funds which would offset any local money that will have to be spent on the high schools. Sending a follow up letter would only cloud the issue. He asked that Dr. Perry not be asked to clarify his letter as requested.
Chairman Robbins stated that he had received a request for litter pick up on Banner Mountain. He asked that this area be checked for possible clean up. He further said that a concerned citizen talked with him regarding the $2.00 fee placed on tires that go to the landfill. This seems to be a reason for individuals to throw tires over the hill rather than disposing of them in the proper manner. He suggested that perhaps the Board needs to take a look at this ordinance to ascertain whether or not it is in the County’s best interest.
Mr. Robbins asked Finance Administrator David Cox to review the accuracy of the figures that was presented by Debbie Baca on the school renovation/consolidation. The Board needs accurate information which will allow them to make the best decision in spending tax payers’ money.
Attorney Mullins advised that the Board should take a vote on whether or not Dr. Perry should be asked to write a letter to the Governor clarifying his language regarding the Board’s commitment to school consolidation.
Supervisor Luntsford said he was not looking for a motion. Hearing the direction of the comments being made, he considered the matter closed.
There being no further business to come before the Board a motion was made by J. H. Rivers, seconded by Dana Kilgore, to recess the meeting until Tuesday, March 31, 2009 @ 5:00 p.m. The motion was unanimously approved.
ATTEST: WISE COUNTY BOARD OF SUPERVISORS
Shannon C. Scott, Clerk Robert E. Robbins, Jr. Chairman