County staff wanes while agenda waxes

Another full agenda — and another empty seat or two — await the Rappahannock County Board of Supervisors at their next regular monthly meeting this Monday afternoon and evening (Nov. 7).

The supervisors’ agenda for both their 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. sessions Monday appear to be as full as the board’s most recent three marathon monthly sessions, each of which have gone on for four to six hours. The agenda includes discussions of several pending changes of longtime personnel, including County Attorney Peter Luke’s transition in January from a part-time county employee to an hourly consultant to his interim deputy (and possibly permanent replacement), Commonwealth’s Attorney Art Goff.

Two personnel changes that weren’t public knowledge until just this week include the retirement at the end of this year of Bev Dunford, head of the county’s social services department, a department funded in part by the county but which acts primarily on behalf of the state — and the unexpected departure, probably in January, of longtime county executive assistant Candace Wroth.

Wroth submitted her resignation last week, said County Administrator Debbie Keyser — who herself has been sharing the tiny administrator’s building with Wroth only since this spring, when Keyser’s predecessor John McCarthy retired after 30 years on the job. Wroth reportedly told the supervisors that her decision was based primarily on changes in the political climate in the county since McCarthy’s departure, an apparent reference to the wave of disagreement between supervisors — and among supervisors, county staff and recently more vocal citizens — that’s arisen since early this year.

The supervisors’ 7 p.m. session Monday includes two public hearings — for approval of a list of supplemental appropriations (or official changes to the county’s fiscal-year 2016-17 budget) that totals $422,500 (plus another $329,000 to the school fund, primarily a “pass-through” for monies expected to flow in from federal and state grant programs). The appropriations are not expenses but a proactive measure to allow for expenses that might be necessary before the fiscal year ends June 30.

At least three appropriations are insurance-related items the supervisors have discussed and agreed to pursue: $100,000 to cover litigation expenses for county officials named in lawsuits (including the FOIA-related suit against the board due to be heard Nov. 28); an additional $50,000 for medical coverage for volunteer fire and rescue responders; and $55,000 for workman’s compensation insurance for those volunteers.

There’s also a public hearing at 7 p.m. for amendments to the EMS Cost Recovery Ordinance which would allow three volunteer rescue squads — Chester Gap, Sperryville and Castleton — to bill insurers for emergency transports using the county’s Medicare account. Several other volunteer rescue squads, including Amissville and Washington, have withdrawn from the county’s system and are billing Medicare directly.

On the agenda for the 2 p.m. session:

— The board’s discussion, and possible appointments, to the county’s new Broadband Advisory Committee. Included in a list of candidates posted to the county website this week were: Dr. William Dant, Casey Eitner, Edward Goshorn Jr., Michael Mahoney, Cynthia Price, Rich Shoemaker, Todd Summers and Alan Zuschlag.

— Resolutions enacting amendments to the county’s adaptive-use zoning ordinance, as recommended by the planning commission; and enabling the county to seek a contract with a new vendor to handle administration and billing of its EMS Cost Recovery program. (Problems with the original vendor — Fidelis, later merged with AMB MARS — have been blamed for the program’s failure to return the level of revenue originally projected, and for mistakes that led to the board’s controversial vote in January to return about $40,000 to Medicare that had been billed on behalf of the Amissville volunteer company.)

— A discussion of renovations to the county-owned RAAC Theatre, including RAAC’s intention to make the entrance handicapped accessible with a new ramp. RAAC has also lately ramped up discussions, with county as well as town officials, of a solution to the building’s public-restroom problem (the problem being that it has none). Security concerns at the courthouse next door have made that building’s formerly open restroom unavailable; use of restrooms in the Tula’s building across the street also subjects the building’s owners to increased water and sewer fees from the town.

— A discussion of policies proposed by Keyser to formalize how the supervisors make appointments to boards and commissions; and how, in detail, items will get on the supervisors’ meeting agendas (another recent subject of disagreement, most of it from Jackson district supervisor Ron Frazier, who has repeatedly accused Luke and Keyser this year of making additions and changes not authorized by the board).

The full agenda of the supervisors’ Monday meetings is online at boarddocs.com/va/corva/Board.nsf/Public.

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Roger Piantadosi
About Roger Piantadosi 534 Articles
Former Rappahannock News editor Roger Piantadosi is a writer and works on web and video projects for Rappahannock Media and his own Synergist Media company. Before joining the News in 2009, he was a staff writer, editor and web developer at The Washington Post for almost 30 years.