Highland County Board of Supervisors Hears Final Report of the EMS Citizen Committee and More at Work Session – Part 2


In Part 1 of this news story, we heard about the EMS Citizen Committee’s final report to the Highland County Board of Supervisors at their July 18, 2018 Work Session.  In other news from that meeting, Director of the county’s Department of Social Services, Sarah Rexrode was present to discuss additional state funding to the Department because of Medicaid Expansion, which will result in a new position in the county to help with the workload.  For Fiscal Year 2019, which runs from June 1st to May 31st, 100% of funding in the form of $50,000 will be covered by the state, but in Fiscal Year 2020, the Board is being asked to pay a local match of 15.5%, which equals $7,750.  Chairman Harry Sponaugle raised questions, citing that the Regional Director did not send him information to compare the local funding to the state average, which he thinks is “way out of kilter”.  Ms. Rexrode cited that every locality in Virginia received funding for additional staff, but an updated work load study is needed and forthcoming.  Mr. Sponaugle also asked if Ms. Rexrode was willing to cut the new position if the anticipated extra workload does not occur.  She explained that duties are being shifted among all members of the Department, so she anticipated the new position will have a full workload given other programs, some of which may also see an increase in use in the future.  When asked the same question again, she said if the locality wasn’t willing to pick up the local share, she wouldn’t have a choice.  Mr. Sponaugle said that the county’s share comes out to almost a tenth of a penny on the tax bill, and farmers expect to get the most for their money.  At a future meeting, the Board will decide on the need to amend the budget to appropriate funding.

The Board also heard from The Highland Center’s Executive Director, Betty Mitchell, who gave an update on the Community Park Project, which includes just over six acres in Monterey.  A redesign to the trail has occurred because more gravesites on the property were discovered using ground penetrating radar, bringing the total to around 110.  Ms. Mitchell asked if the Supervisors would be willing to appoint a member to be part of the stakeholder team before putting the project out to bid.  The Board discussed that a Supervisor will make the effort to be available at future meetings.

In other news, The County Treasurer, Lois White, was contacted by the National Association of Counties about a lawsuit that Kane County, Utah has filed against the United States seeking to recover some PILT, or payment in lieu of taxes, underpayments.  They believe Congress underpaid the counties that receive that funding for the years of 2015 through 2017.   Commonwealth Attorney Melissa Dowd recommended that the county join the class-action suit, which means the county will not share in any expenses of the suit.  The Board of Supervisors unanimously voted to authorize Ms. White to include Highland County in the litigation.

In another item up for discussion, the Board scheduled a public hearing on August 7, 2018 to discuss increased amounts in the Public Procurement Procedures Ordinance based on the amended Virginia Public Procurement Act.

In closing, the Board went in to a closed meeting to discuss a contract matter.

Story By

Chris Swecker

is the Assistant Station Coordinator and a News Reporter for WVLS. He has roots in Highland County going back several generations, and he grew up in Monterey. Since graduating from James Madison University with a bachelor’s degree in Media Arts and Design, he has pursued his career at a news station and advertising agency in Virginia, on Microsoft’s campus in the state of Washington, and in both states as sole owner and employee of a video production company. He enjoys exploring life with his wife, Jessa Fowler, traveling, hiking, hunting, gardening, and trying new foods, all while discovering more about what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ. He feels blessed to be a small part of this talented AMR team to help give back to the community that has provided him with so much.

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