All Supervisors present from 8:30 am until about 12 noon, when Vernon Smith abruptly left after a vote didn’t go the way he wished.
The first 2.5 hours were taken with a presentation by Tim Estes about Emergency notification systems, Emergency Medical Systems, and Emergency Management of disasters. We were the only observers, and the Supervisors asked questions and we all learned much about systems in the county. Basically, there are nine fire departments in the county and about that many EMS providers.
There were only two areas where Supervisors need to make decisions soon (besides budgetary ones). One regards buying into a Code Red system where there is federal grant money for one year, or to use that money to purchase the system that the Town of Abingdon uses which is Mixall 360, and which costs $9,000 versus the $15,000 for Code Red. Tim is advocating using the Mixall 360 system and will provide all the details to the Superintendents for a vote at an upcoming meeting. The other decision area is over the county’s 1,900 street signs because most are over 25 years old, and don’t meet current regulations regarding size, font, etc. Besides, many have been stolen. This creates major problems for emergency personnel getting to the right houses, and for businesses having their customers find them. Mr. Estes recommends the county contract for all new signs and then county personnel could manage to make and replace the stolen ones or the new ones needed over the following years.
The second major item on the agenda for the day were proposed changes in the bylaws. Some were handled easily and consensus arrived at. Others were very contentious. The ones we observed were:
1. Allowing up to two substitute motions—agreed by consensus.
2. Committee assignments for the Supervisors should have some rotation so that Supervisors have a chance to serve on committees that interest them. It was agreed that terms on committees would basically be two years, unless no one else wanted that committee, in which case a BOS member could continue to serve. All agreed.
3. They agreed to drop a suggestion to rotate the chair of the BOS in a round-robin fashion among all the supervisors.
4. Lengthy (perhaps an hour?) debate about reimbursement for electronic devices and mileage for BOS members. Eventually, Mays, Hernandez, Pennington, and McCall voted down a motion by Baker, Smith and Copenhaver to provide $100 for electronic devices and keep mileage reimbursement the same as it has been. At this point, Smith left the meeting. Remaining members voted 5 in favor and 1 (Baker) against a motion Mays proposed to provide $55 toward a cell phone (county supplies them at this cost to the county) and mileage with a $50 cap on in-county travel/ month.
5. Discussion of “coterminous” appointments to various commissions and boards by BOS members. Lucy Phillips, legal counsel to the board, said they couldn’t pass a rule that would apply to all appointments because different boards followed different sets of state required regulations. She suggested they take up one board or commission at a time and decide how to handle the appointments. Agreed.
6. Closed door meetings. It was generally agreed that the meetings that most interest the public were the ones negotiating with companies interested in locating in Washington Co. Baker suggested that when negotiation was completed (the company refused an offer or accepted it), a “sanitized report” be made public (3-8 months after the meeting) about the content of the closed meeting. No names of companies would be revealed and no dollar amounts of offerings, but there could be project identification and statements like “3 years tax-free” to identify what was offered. Agreed to by all.
There were an additional 9 items on the list to consider for bylaw adjustments, but anything changed will have to come before the BOS at a future date to be ratified, and it seemed the most controversial items had already been dealt with.