The Wise County Board of Supervisors met in a Recessed Meeting on Thursday, April 28, 2016 at 5:00 PM at the School Board Education Center located on Lake Street in Wise. The following members were present:
Honorable Robert R. Adkins – Chairman
Honorable Virginia Meador – Vice-Chair
Honorable Dana Kilgore
Honorable Robert E. Robbins, Jr.
Honorable J. H. Rivers
Honorable Fred Luntsford
Honorable Ronald L. Shortt
Honorable Steve Bates – members of said Board and
Shannon C. Scott – County Administrator
David L. Cox – Finance Administrator
Karen T. Mullins – County Attorney
Annette Underwood – Executive Secretary
REMARKS –FRED LUNTSFORD
Supervisor Luntsford made the following statement prior to the budget discussion:
Over the past two or three years, it has become painfully obvious that the leadership Triad that this Board installed years ago has become and continues to be a complete failure. Over the same time period, we as a Board have discussed solutions to correct the leadership deficiencies, all of which have failed. During the last four to six months, we have had discussions of what to do, given all our prior efforts have been unsuccessful. Even in light of the fact that we all agreed that problems exist; we have been unable to reach any sort of agreement as to how to fix the problem. For me, it’s been frustrating that this Board cannot or will not come to a meeting of the mind on this matter of great importance. This budget season finds Wise County in the uncomfortable condition of having to make budget cuts far exceeding any of the years that I have sat in this seat. We find ourselves in a vicious trend of decreasing revenues and increasing costs. To be more specific, we find ourselves asking for all the departments of the County to cut budgets to bear minimum while we sit on an existing problem and are unable to make a decision that would benefit our budget problem. To be more direct, we should make changes in our County Administrator’s department that would both correct our leadership deficiency and benefit our budget. I for one will not support any additional cutting of any budget of any department of the County until we address and correct the problems in the County Administrator’s Office.
IN RE: BUDGET DISCUSSION
At the April 7 meeting, Finance Administrator Cox provided the Board with a balanced budget noting the reductions he had made per the Board’s request. After reviewing the proposed budget, the Board felt that more cuts could be made to provide a 2% across the Board raise for all County employees.
With the Board asking for further cuts to meet the 2% raise for County employees, Mr. Cox provided a list of suggested reductions for consideration.
The cost of providing 2% to all county employees would be approximately $95K with an estimated $32K being comp board funded. To meet that number, the Board could ask the departments to further cut their budgets or consider reducing costs in areas as indicated on Mr. Cox’s list of possible cuts.
Supervisor Rivers noted one area that needs to be addressed is travel . He feels that travel should be consistent in all departments, and perhaps the Board could pay their own expenses.
Supervisor Bates noted that a possible savings could be reaped by leasing vehicles or by utilizing state contracts.
There was some discussion on cutting the convenience center hours one hour per day for a cost of $40,000.
Commonwealth Attorney Chuck Slemp told the Board that his office had made cuts as requested by the Board. However, in the 2016/17 budget he asked that his budget remain as presented since this will be his first full year in office and he is still feeling his way thru needs and obligations that are before him in the days to come. He noted that he is being a good steward of the County’s money and will return any leftover funds at the end of the year.
Commissioner of Revenue Doug Mullins stated that his office has made the cuts that have been requested, which included not filling a vacant position. He has requested two (2) four-wheel drive vehicles for the Assessors since the ones they now drive are 15 years old and have been repaired time and again. He feels the vehicles are no longer safe and should be replaced. The $20,000 dollars request in his budget will hopefully buy two (2) used four-wheel drive vehicles in good condition that will last several years.
There were brief comments on checking into state contracts for vehicles, and whether or not 4-wheel drive vehicles were necessary. If not, that would be a cost savings.
General Registrar Allison Robbins advised the Board that the voting equipment now in use is twelve years old and must be replaced by July 2020. Several repairs have already been made on the equipment, and she asked that the Board consider replacement in the near future.
Lou Elsworth, representing the LP Regional Library Board, reviewed the Library budget cuts that have been made. He asked that the $10,000 for capital improvements for hand rails at the Big Stone Gap Library be funded since this is a safety issue. Mr. Cox noted that this is an estimated figure which includes concrete, hand rails and some excavation around the railings for support. Supervisor Rivers asked that cost estimates be provided for all projects for a more accurate figure for the budget.
GIS Coordinator Jessica Swinney and Sheriff Oakes, unable to attend the meeting, wrote letters asking the Board not to make further cuts to their budget since their departments are involved in keeping our citizens safe.
Treasurer Delores Smith reviewed and explained the costs involved with sending out semi-annual tax tickets and related operating costs such as postage. This item cannot be reduced. She explained that it is very important for her staff to attend training workshops to keep them informed and updated on any changes in tax laws and also to keep the employees certified.
Marketing and Tourism Director, Michael Wampler, explained the advertising costs for his department, which includes different events throughout the County, and outdoor recreational activities.
The Board took a brief recess at 7:09 PM
The meeting reconvened at 7:16 PM
IN RE: BUDGET CUTS DISCUSSION
Since it was suggested that Wise-TV PEG channel 19 be an additional cut, several Board members voiced their concerns that the coverage of the Board meetings is important for keeping citizens informed regarding the functions of their local government, and for those individuals unable to attend the meetings. It was suggested that the Board merge with the School Board and combine the two channels, which would be a savings for both Boards, and would keep meetings of both Boards televised as well as other events throughout the County. Channel 19 has a budget of $19,000 for FY 2016/17.
Administrator Scott stated that he had been asked by Supervisor Rivers to contact other vendors to ascertain whether or not they would be interested in operating the County’s channel 19 for the budgeted amount. Both vendors were willing to provide their services at that price.
Mr. Scott also stated that he had contacted Greg Mullins, Superintendent of Public Schools, regarding the possibility of transferring the school’s video equipment to the County since their channel 10 will be eliminated as of July 1 as a reduction in the FY 2016/17 school budget. Mr. Mullins will be bringing this before his Board at its next meeting.
Mr. Cox noted that there is a savings of $21,500 in professional services due to the termination of a contract with Commonwealth Connections, Inc. He also noted a savings of $8,000 due to an adjustment to a meter at the old jail building.
The following reductions were suggested to be made:
1 – Travel and Education expenses from BOS Budget $ 3,000
2 - Eliminate part-time help – County Attorney Budget $ 15,000
4 – Miscellaneous reductions $ 2,000
5 – Adjustment to meter at old jail facility $ 8,000
Total $ 28,000
Supervisor Rivers suggested adding $10,000 to $15,000 to the upcoming budget to assist the Haz-Mat Team in restoring their losses during the winter storms in 2015. Mr. Cox noted that the insurance proceeds will help with the rebuilding of a facility for them. Supervisor Rivers stated that they will have additional costs that they did not have at the prior facility such as utilities and other associated costs. He asked Mr. Cox to meet with Jack Tolbert with Emergency Services for an update on the needs of Haz-Mat at this time during their relocation.
IN RE: CONVENIENCE CENTER HOURS
A motion was made by Fred Luntsford, seconded by Ronnie Shortt, to open the convenience center one hour later each day beginning July 1, 2016.
Aye- Dana Kilgore Nay - J. H. Rivers
IN RE: WISE-TV PEG CHANNEL 19
A motion was made by Ronnie Shortt, seconded by Steve Bates, to eliminate Channel 19 beginning July 1, 2016.
Aye- Ronnie Shortt Nay- Dana Kilgore
Steve Bates Robby Robbins
J. H. Rivers
IN RE: BUDGET REDUCTIONS (MISCELLANEOUS)
A motion was made by Dana Kilgore, seconded by J. H. Rivers, to approve the miscellaneous budget deductions as noted in the amount of $28,000 ($15,000 cut from County Attorney budget for part-time help, $3,000 from travel and recreation (BOS Budget) $2,000 miscellaneous cuts, and $8,000 adjustment to old jail facility). The motion was unanimously approved.
IN RE: BUDGET FY 2016/17 -- PUBLIC HEARING
A motion was made by Fred Luntsford, seconded by Ronnie Shortt, to set a public hearing on the proposed FY 2016/17 budget on Thursday, May 26, 2016 @ 6:00 PM in the School Board Education Center located on Lake Street in Wise. The motion was unanimously approved.
IN RE: CLOSE SESSION
A motion was made by Virginia Meador, seconded by Steve Bates, to go into close session to discuss personnel per Section 2.2-3711(A)(1) of the Code of Virginia. The motion was unanimously approved.
After close session, a motion was made by Fred Luntsford, seconded by Ronnie Shortt, to reconvene the regular meeting. The motion was unanimously approved.
IN RE: RESOLUTION CERTIFICATION FOR CLOSE MEETING
A motion was made by Fred Luntsford, seconded by J. H. Rivers, to approve the resolution certifying that only public business matters lawfully exempted from open meeting requirements as were identified in the motion convening the closed meeting were discussed or heard by the Board of Supervisors. The motion was unanimously approved by roll call voted.
RESOLUTION # 2016
(Said resolution is on file in the County Administrator’s Office)
There being no further business to come before the Board, a motion was made by J. H. Rivers, seconded by Fred Luntsford, to adjourn the meeting at 10:15 PM. The motion was unanimously approved
ATTEST: WISE COUNTY BOARD OF SUPERVISORS
Shannon C. Scott, Clerk Robert R. Adkins, Chairman