The Wise County Board of Supervisors met in a Workshop meeting on Thursday, August 6, 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 Virginia Meador
Honorable Dana Kilgore
Honorable Steve Bates
Honorable Robert R. Adkins
Honorable Ronald L. Shortt, members of said Board and
Shannon C. Scott – County Administrator
David L. Cox – Finance Administrator
Karen T. Mullins – County Attorney
Annette Underwood – Executive Secretary
Honorable Fred Luntsford
IN RE: AGENDA – ADDITIONS
The following items were reviewed and added to the agenda:
- Add to consent Agenda: Budget Amendments #1 thru #3
Resolution “Watch for Children” signs Rt. 620
- Add to Appointments: IDA Appointment (Jerry Baker resigned)
IN RE: ROADS AND HIGHWAYS
Board members provided Highway Residency Administrator T. G. Branson with their constituents’ requests for VDOT’s review and response.
IN RE: EXTENSION AGENT
Amy Fannon, the new Extension Agent for Wise County, briefed the Board on her goals as the new Extension Agent and her intent to advance agriculture into the future for the citizens of Wise County and the Coalfields.
IN RE: SCHOOL BOARD PRESENTATION
Superintendent of Public Schools, Dr. Jeff Perry, provided the Board with a power point presentation on the proposed school consolidation Plan.
The proposed plan is to combine the six high schools into three high schools; Powell Valley and Appalachia, Pound and J. J. Kelly, and Coeburn and St. Paul. There may be some flexibility on construction of the buildings whether it be one, two or three. However, the School Board would like for the Board of Supervisors to commit to funding all three schools regardless of the construction phases. It is understood that with the debt service ability and with the cash flow it may not be feasible to start all three schools at one time.
The Public/Private Education Act (PPEA) Schedule was reviewed. With this schedule, construction of one or two schools would begin in February/March of 2010, completed in July 2012 and opened in August 2012.
The financial responsibility of the Board for $100 million that has been the proposed costs for the schools was reviewed. According to the County’s administrative staff, the County could possibly provide somewhere in the neighborhood of $70,000 without raising taxes. Dr. Perry noted that the sooner the Board can commit some funding, the more able the School Board can secure some of the stimulus money or the zero interest bonds.
The payments options were reviewed and discussed. Dr. Perry explained that there is an incentive to do the construction sooner than later because of the low interest bond rates and the availability of construction companies is very favorable at this time. They are hungry for work and have the incentive to get a particular job during this economic down turn. This would be a tremendous cost savings for the County.
There was some discussion on the social impact consolidation has on a community and the fact that consolidation has been ongoing for some years. It was noted that in the Weldon-Cooper Study it was stated that the existence of a school does not drive the economic factors of a community. If it were possible to keep all schools open, it would be done. However, student enrollment is at a loss but the operational costs are increasing. There must be developed a sustainable design.
There is a need to develop a planned and deliberate consolidation. Last year there was a loss of $3,000,000 with more cuts possible. The school budget is 75% wage/benefits. The other 25% is non negotiable. If the school had to come up with $3,000,000 year after next, there would be massive cuts of programming or the need to close schools. Year after next if that $3,000,000 has not been reinstated to the schools by the state and the Board cannot re-instate that $3,000,000, there will be massive lay offs which will hurt the instructional programs or there will be a forced consolidation of schools. As a result of not planning, they could very well be forced to enact an unplanned, unfexible plan of consolidation. Dr. Perry said this is not a threat but only being proactive by giving the Board of Supervisors and the School Board the appropriate information to allow both boards to do strategic low term and short term planning.
Dr. Perry realizes that this is a difficult decision to make but there is a need to take immediate action to take advantage of the construction market, bond interest rates, and to resolve the issue before the County faces crisis-management.
A brief recess was taken at 8:22 p.m.
The meeting reconvened at 8: 35 p.m.
Andria Salyers, a resident of Mountain Meadows Subdivision, addressed the Board with the following concerns regarding the safety aspects of the subdivision:
- No posted speed signs
- No fire hydrant
- No posted “Children at Play” signs
- Stagnant pond with no safety net from previous mining
- Equipment scattered about
Ms. Salyers said there were 45 homes in this subdivision with several small children. She has made several attempts to stop the speeding, get a fire hydrant and to have the pond removed. To date, nothing has been done and it is with great concern of the residents that the children may fall in the pond and/or get hit by the speeding vehicles.
Regarding the equipment, there are different types lying all around the subdivision which makes the neighborhood look unkept. This brings the value of home owners’ property down and makes the neighborhood look trashy.
She asked the Board for any assistance they can offer to get these needs met before some tragic accident occurs.
Administrator Scott stated that he would look into these concerns and get back to Ms. Salyers with his findings.
Harold Greear, a resident of the Pound area, spoke on the following issues:
- School consolidation
- PPEA contracts
- Proposed school sites
- Wind Farms
- Zoning Ordinance
Walter Crouse spoke regarding the following:
- KWCB support of ethanol plant
- Research Center
- Regional Schools concept
- Health care
Marlene Bush said the loss of a school has a large impact on a community. In Dr. Perry’s comments he did not mention the projected student loss with the building of new schools nor the mention of any new subjects that will be available to the students. She further noted the loss of knowledge with the retirement of several teachers that will also be a loss to the students.
To cut cost in the school budget, she suggested making cuts in the Central Office.
___________ Hall, a resident of the Pound area, voiced her opposition to the proposed school consolidation and the future debt that will be passed on to the next generation.
There being no further comments, the public expression period was closed.
IN RE: CONSENT AGENDA
The following items were reviewed:
- Set public hearing (September 3, 2009 @ 6:00 p.m.) on an amendment to Zoning Ordinance #2-1991 to allow wind energy systems in the A-RR District
- Resolution Approving Planning District One Behavioral Health Services FY 2010 Contract
- Approval of Updated Emergency Operations Plan
IN RE: OTHER ITEMS REVIEWED
- Health Department HVAC Update
- Memorandum of Understanding – Reclaimed Resources, Inc.
- Appointment of Enterprise Zone Administrator
- Wise Inn Update
- Town of Wise Utility Agreement
- City of Norton Utility Agreement
- Closed Session: Investing of public funds and Legal Matters
- Administrator’s Report: Planning for a visit to Virginia City Site on September 22, 2009
- Board comments
There being no further business, the meeting adjourned at 9:20 p.m.
ATTEST: WISE COUNTY BOARD OF SUPERVISORS
Shannon C. Scott, Clerk Robert E. Robbins, Jr., Chairman