Bath’s Board meets for August
This is part one of a pair of reports on Bath County’s Board of Supervisors’ Tuesday night meeting. Most of the agenda items seemed routine, so it was unusual when a member of the public, John Fowler of the Millboro District asked for a change in the agenda to include discussion of an item from closed session prior to the public meeting. The issue was involving some acquisition by the county of real property, Mr. Fowler voiced his concerns and was responded to quickly by Valley Springs Supervisor, Richard Bird.
“We have a county that’s wanting to take real property for what purpose none of us know. So, I make the motion to the board to modify the agenda to include a discussion of what they did upstairs.”
“Madame Chair, point of order.”
“Yes, Mr. Byrd. Thank you Mr. Fowler.”
“Thank you sir for your time. You may be seated. Point of order as called for by me is the fact that we did discuss acquisition of real property; it is allowed under the Virginia code 1950 as amended, and I’d ask the county attorney to reply please.”
Mike Collins, county attorney explained why what the Board had done was legitimate.
“The code does permit negotiations or discussion regarding acquisition of property and it, and a lot of other kind of contracts, can be done in closed session because often it’s not in the county’s best interest to say what you’re considering doing in public because of the potential seller or buyer might get information that they should not be privy to at that point in time, so the law allows the exception to the public meeting requirement that says you can discuss negotiations on the purchase, or sale, of property in closed session. If the county ever wants to take any action on it, and decides to actually do it, whatever it is, either buy property or sell property, they have to have a public hearing in the case of selling property, and pass a public resolution in order to acquire it.” Later Supervisor Byrd revealed the discussion in closed session had been related to the county looking at a possible site for greenboxes, but resolved the issue will not be pursued further.
Continuing on the theme of keeping our elected representatives accountable, Lisa Hamilton of Williamsville District spoke about the Public Service Authority’s request for an interest free loan from the county for four-hundred thousand dollars.
“I just want to voice concern over the four hundred thousand dollar interest free loan that could go to the PSA. First of all, interest free, if we have no money, and we’re going to give money away, and let people use it and not pay interest on it, especially if we are in dire straights, as many of you have said. So I think this needs to be considered more closely, especially interest free.”
No one was denying that the PSA needs the money. It is for upgrades required by the Department of Environmental Quality to the public water system in the Hot Springs area. Buggs Phillips, of the public service authority spoke to the fact that he and the county administrator are looking at many possible different sources for the funds. No action was taken, and the deadline for the upgrades is March of 2017.
In part two of this report, Brett Schoenfeld, returning CEO of the Omni Homestead shares with the board some of his thoughts on economic development, and the hotel’s role in local business.