Bath’s Board of Supervisors still under scrutiny

Bath County’s Board of Supervisor faced an unsettled, and vocal public once again on Tuesday night. The meeting started off with the board striking a scheduling item from the agenda. Quite a few members of the public had come to the meeting planning to gather more information about why the board was going to consider repealing the land use tax. The point then became irrelevant; no public hearing was scheduled because the issue cannot be raised for another six years in conjunction with the next county reassessment.   One other “fly in the ointment” was the method of writing up meeting minutes was changed from previous months to be more of a summary, than recalling specific dialogues that took place.   The attentive public was aware of this, as well as the need for those who are unable to attend meetings to know exactly what happens there. One speaker mentioned she had asked over a year ago, and this was a return visit to the podium, if there could be a system put in place for tracking progress on actions or responses to questions. Jonah Windham of Hot Springs spoke to the minutes issue:

“I find it interesting that this board thinks that a citizen should come to the office to listen to recordings. If this county cannot afford to put minutes out to represent what’s being done in these meetings then something’s wrong. You are hiding from the members, or the residents of this county what you are doing. I think that the board needs to readdress that. This is one way you can make sure that people in the county know what you’re doing. You’re not doing a very good job.” Board Chair Richard Bird promptly advised county administration to return to the more detailed way of reporting the meetings.

Still on the subject of transparency, and easy access, Clair Collins, Cedar Creek district observed,

“There’s no reason why we couldn’t be live-streaming meetings, or doing something so that if somebody is at home, they could be on their computer, and they might not be able to get here, or have their phone, they could actually see the meeting as it’s going on. I think that’s very important.”

The board did approve, after considerable discussion, the rezoning of a property currently zoned business convenience to general business. They also awarded the contract for demolition of buildings on the future Visitor’s Center site in Mitchelltown to Turn Key Construction of Millboro. Then supervisors asked anyone with interest in serving in an at-large position on the Board of the Rockbridge Regional Library, to please speak to county or library administration.   The ongoing challenge to establish a budget is going to be addressed in another work session on Monday evening April 24th, because while many areas of the county’s operations have been allotted level funding, there is still at least one major piece, such as school employees’ insurance plans, to be accommodated.

As part of the public input on the budget Jeff Grimm of Millboro spoke.

“My dad’s long dead and gone. In 1971 he was paying twenty- one cent a gallon for fuel to haul timber. What would he be paying today? A loaf of bread was how much in 1971? Let’s bring this into perspective. It’s 2017. Basically Bath County is spending the same money that they were spending in 2002. Is a loaf of bread the same amount of money as it was in 2002? Simply put, you cannot live in today’s time with inflation and so forth, and spend the exact same money. I applaud you guys for trying, but at least equalize the amount of money coming in. It only makes good business sense.”

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Bonnie Ralston

Bonnie Ralston is the Assistant Station Coordinator at WVLS and a Highland County news reporter. She began volunteering at Allegheny Mountain Radio in the fall of 2005. In 2006 she became an AMR employee and worked in Bath County for eight years as the WCHG Station Coordinator and then as the news reporter there. She began working in radio while in college and has stayed connected to radio, in one way or another, for more than thirty years. She grew up in Staunton, Virginia, while spending a lot of time on her family’s farm in Deerfield, Virginia. She enjoys spending time outside, watching old TV shows and movies and tending to her chickens.

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