Bath DSS To Stay In The Courthouse
Warm Springs, VA – The Department of Social Services in Bath County will remain in its courthouse office. At Tuesday night’s Bath Board of Supervisors meeting, the board unanimously voted to not pursue moving the office out of the courthouse at this time.
The board had sent a letter asking the Department of Social Services office, or DSS, to consider moving to another location. The board says there are issues at the courthouse with lack of storage space, meeting space and parking. During public comment Tuesday night, nine people spoke in support of keeping DSS in the courthouse. Speakers said the courthouse location had good access for the elderly and that parking there was only a problem on court days.
Director of DSS, Debbie Michael, spoke about the financial concerns of a potential move. She said with no additional funding available from the state, the cost of the move would fall to taxpayers. She gave a conservative estimate of a cost around $150,000, but said it could be more than $300,000.
Supervisor Percy Nowlin said he was not in support of the move because of the expense, and that he had received a lot of calls against moving the office. Supervisor Carol Hardbarger said the county needs to decide what is needed, what space is available and rearrange if needed. She said she also heard from many indicating they were against a move.
Supervisor Stuart Hall said the board needs to keep an open mind about the issue, even though this option is expensive. He said there’s no storage, no parking and no room to expand at the courthouse. Supervisor Jon Trees also said he could not support moving the office but agreed there are space issues that need to be addressed.
Supervisor Richard Byrd also said he had received a lot of calls in support of keeping DSS in the courthouse, and doesn’t support a move. DSS has eleven years left on its agreement at the courthouse and moving the office would cost the county $241,000 in revenue. He said the state doesn’t pay anything on rent for startup at a new location.
Byrd said it would not be easy to give up $241,000 in revenue and spend about $300,000 to move. The board had been considering a building at Webb’s Store that would need renovation to make it suitable. In addressing the parking issue, Byrd said that all courthouse employees should begin parking in the lower lot. He said that employees can park in the back lot if the lower lot is full or if there is a medical reason that prevents an employee from walking from the lower lot.
Also on Tuesday night Sheriff Larry Norfleet reported that his department did a drug search with dogs at Bath County High School and the high school parking lot Tuesday morning and found no drugs.