The Wise County Board of Supervisors met in a Recessed meeting on Tuesday, April 7, 2009 at 5:00 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 Dana Kilgore
Honorable Virginia Meador
Honorable Fred Luntsford
Honorable Ronald L. Shortt
Honorable Steve Bates
Honorable Robert R. Adkins – members of said Board and
Shannon C. Scott – County Administrator
David L. Cox – Finance Administrator
Karen T. Mullins – County Attorney
Annette Underwood – Executive Secretary
IN RE: SCHOOL CONSTRUCTION UPDATE
Dr. Jeff Perry and Ron Vicars provided a power point presentation on school construction. The purpose of the presentation is to provide factual information which is focused on school consolidation. The Board of Education has directed him to look at consolidation not renovation. The presentation provided a great amount of data and facts which are valid and reliable in an effort to formulate a specific plan to consolidate the county’s six high schools. The overall cost for the school range between $92,000,000 and $100,000,000. However, these costs are not in stone since the sites have not been selected. The power point centered on the following topics:
Problem with renovation plus cost
Consolidated school positions
School consolidation financial analysis
During discussion, it was noted that the City of Norton is undecided as to whether or not they intend to be part of this consolidation which would make a difference in the cost.
Regarding the loss of jobs, Dr. Perry was of the opinion that retirements and normal attrition will take care of most of the jobs to be eliminated in this transition.
There was some discussion on meeting the recreational needs for each school which would increase the cost.
Dr. Perry stated that the School Board is committed to making sure that the educational needs and the physical recreational needs are met for all students.
Supervisor Luntsford stated that what has been said here tonight should not be construed as gospel and the best thing for Wise County. If these changes go forth, three (3) communities will be impacted economically.
Dr. Perry noted that he would keep the Board updated on any information that comes available.
IN RE: CIP PLAN – (2010 – 2014)
A motion was made by Ronnie Shortt to approve the CIP without the $92,000,000.00 for public school funding. Fred Luntsford seconded the motion.
Supervisor Shortt said that the school issue should be addressed at the time it’s brought before the Board based on the information and cost at that point in time.
Supervisor Rivers said he could vote for the CIP Plan without the funds for the schools. However, this plan can be changed if necessary. The schools must be addressed whether it be consolidation or renovation. The County must provide the best education possible for our students.
The motion was unanimously approved.
IN RE: ORDINANCE-EXEMPTION OF REAL ESTATE FOR QUALIFIED ELDERLY & DISABLED
A motion was made by Ronnie Shortt, seconded by Fred Luntsford, to make the following changes to the Real Estate Tax Exemption Ordinance for qualified elderly and disabled:
Increase the amount of the exemption of the tax bill from $150.00 to $200.00
Increase the total combined income of the owners amount for the immediately preceding calendar year from $32,000.00 to $42,000.00
Increase the total combined financial worth of the owners from $75,000.00 to $85,000.00
Supervisor Shortt stated that this increased exemption will give a greater pool of individuals relief on their taxes and will help the elderly and handicap who need assistance the most.
Supervisor Rivers stated that the information that he has received regarding these increased exemptions of $32,000 to $45,000 and $75,000 to $85,000 will impact some of the local towns.
Attorney Mullins stated that three (3) of the towns use the County’s eligibility for elderly and handicap internally. They look to the Commissioner of the Revenue to ascertain who qualifies. The towns would need to modify their own ordinance to do something different. The Town of Wise use the County’s calculation but they set their own amount based on their vote from the Town Council.
A substitute motion was made by J. H. Rivers, seconded by Virginia Meador, to leave the eligibility amounts as is but change the $150 to $200 until communication can be made with the towns notifying them of the changes being considered by the County.
The vote on the substitute motion:
Aye- Virginia Meador Nay - Fred Luntsford
J. H. Rivers Ronnie Shortt
The vote on the main motion:
Aye- Fred Luntsford Nay- Virginia Meador
Steve Bates J. H. Rivers
A motion was made by Ronnie Shortt, seconded by Dana Kilgore, to amend the filing date of the application for the real estate tax exemption for the elderly and disabled from April 1 to May 1. The motion was unanimously approved.
IN RE: PUBLIC HEARING – AMENDMENT TO ORDINANCE PROVIDING REAL ESTATE TAX EXEMPTION FOR THE QUALIFIED ELDERLY & DISABLED
Attorney Mullins stated that as previously discussed, the amendments to this ordinance have been approved on an emergency basis, which is allowed by state code, because the tax tickets were to go out on this week and any changes to the ordinance must be turned over to the Commissioner of the Revenue’s Office in the morning.
Attorney Mullins further advised that the Board will need to set a public hearing in May to ratify the action taken on this ordinance at this meeting.
There was some concern that the public hearing was being held after the ordinance has already been adopted which was in reverse of the proper procedure for adopting an ordinance.
Attorney Mullins explained that it has always been the Board’s policy to have a public hearing for public input on an ordinance or amendment to an ordinance that has been approved on an emergency basis even though it is not required. This has been done in the past when the Board must make a decision due to timelines and deadlines. Even though the Board has made a decision, the issue can be revisited if there were concerns from the public.
After further discussion, a motion was made by Dana Kilgore, seconded by Fred Luntsford, to set a public hearing on May 7, 2009 at 6:00 p.m. to receive citizens’ input on an amendment to the Real Estate Tax Exemption Ordinance for qualified elderly & disabled.
Aye- Dana Kilgore
Abstain – J. H. Rivers – Because of the timeliness of the ordinance being brought before the Board. The Board should have had this before them six weeks ago which would have allowed the proper procedure to be followed on this amendment.
IN RE: COURTHOUSE FRONT ENTRANCE MODIFICATION
Board members voiced their constituents desire to keep the stone wall in front of the courthouse intact. The Administrator was asked whether or not Thompson and Litton have received any word for DHR on whether or not making changes to the wall would be allowable since the courthouse has been designated a historic landmark.
Administrator Scott advised that Thompson and Litton have not received an answer from the Department of Historic Resources as of this date. However, the Historical Society submitted a letter to this Board objecting to this proposed change with a copy to the DHR. Thompson & Litton are of the opinion that DHR will not give a favorable ruling on this since that letter was written opposing the change.
Supervisor Rivers asked that Thompson & Litton write a letter to DHR withdrawing the County’s request on a ruling for changing the stone wall.
A motion was made by Bob Adkins, seconded by Ronnie Shortt, to keep the stone wall in front of the courthouse as is. The motion was unanimously approved.
IN RE: RESOLUTION SETTING TAX RATE
A public hearing was held on March 12, 2009 to receive citizens’ comments regarding the proposed tax rate for FY 2009-2010.
A motion was made by Dana Kilgore, seconded by Bob Adkins, to approve the resolution setting the County tax rate for FY 2009-2010 at 57 cents/ $100.
Virginia Meador made a substitute motion to set the rate at 54 cents to give those citizens struggling to raise a family a break. Robby Robbins seconded the motion.
Board members voiced their reasons for keeping the tax rate at 57 cents which included:
Funds for school consolidation/renovation
Meeting County’s obligations for sewer & water
Provide services for the citizens
Landfill expansion and other ongoing projects within the County
The vote on the substitute motion follows:
Aye- Virginia Meador Nay - Ronnie Shortt
Robby Robbins Fred Luntsford
J. H. Rivers
The vote on the main motion follows:
Aye Ronnie Shortt Nay- Virginia Meador
Fred Luntsford Robby Robbins
J. H. Rivers
RESOLUTION # 2009
(Said resolution is on file in the County Administrator’s Office)
The Board took a brief recess at 7:25 p.m.
The meeting reconvened at 7:35 p.m.
IN RE: CLOSED SESSION
A motion was made by Ronnie Shortt, seconded by Bob Adkins, to go into closed session to discuss the investment of public funds as permitted by Section 2.2-3711(A(6) of the Code of Virginia. The motion was unanimously approved.
After closed session, a motion was made by J. H. Rivers, seconded by Dana Kilgore, to reconvene the 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 Ronnie Shortt, seconded by Fred Luntsford, to approve the resolution verifying matters discussed while in closed session. The motion was unanimously approved by roll call vote.
RESOLUTION # 2009
(Said resolution is on file in the County Administrator’s Office)
A motion was made by Dana Kilgore, seconded by J. H. Rivers, to adjourn the meeting. The motion was unanimously approved.
ATTEST: WISE COUNTY BOARD OF SUPERVISORS
Shannon C. Scott, Clerk Robert E. Robbins, Jr., Chairman