Supervisor Trible Asks County Attorney to Leave After Antagonistic Exchange with Citizens

Citizens entering the May 10 public hearing for the Highland County Board of Supervisors were a bit surprised to see an agenda for three public hearings instead of one. The content for the hearings was the same, but broken up, and it was requested that comments only be made for each hearing individually. This made it difficult for many who prepared notes. Here’s Highland resident Betty Mitchell who spoke after the first hearing opened. 


“So, you’re going to do each one separately?” asked Mitchell.


“Yes,” responded Supervisor Chair Henry Budzinski and Interim County Administrator Jerri Botkin. 


“So, I have comments about all three. How would you like me to handle that?” asked Mitchell.

Budzinski responded, “This is just on the proposed tax levy first, Betty.”


“So when it comes to the next two, on the enterprise fee and EMS fee, the comments I have are about those together. Do I have to choose one or the other to speak about? I mean, I was prepared to think about revenue and expenditures on the 15th, not you’re dividing the revenue by three different items,” explained Mitchell.


“That is correct,” responded County Attorney Melissa Dowd, “but they have chosen to do three separate public hearings.”

“According to the agenda that was published as we walked in the door,” added someone in the room, noting the fact that the agenda was not made available prior to the meeting, making it difficult for others to prepare.


“Well, what in the hell is the problem, it’s a simple thing to do?” said Dowd.


“I’d like the floor for just a moment, I’m sorry. Mrs. Dowd, I’d like to ask you to leave. If you can’t control yourself…” said Trible.


“You’re out of order, Paul,” interrupted Budzinski.


“No, I’m not,” said Trible. “She just cursed at someone she cursed at after the last meeting, and I’m not going to tolerate it.”


“The saddest thing about this is that if one of us in the audience had said that, you would ask us to leave,” added Debbie Hodges who stood to make her comments after Mitchell left the podium.


“No, that is untrue, because I’ve put up with a lot of nonsense from a lot of people here,” said Budzinski.


The meeting got back on track, with residents giving their input about the levies and moving on to both the enterprise and EMS fees, noting the large bumps in their bills if everything goes through as advertised. 


There was an additional public hearing at the work session on May 15, with similar comments and concerns voiced. The board has a scheduled work session on May 20. This meeting will also include a public hearing on the Ordinance to Extend the tax due date to June 20, 2024 as well as a hearing to discuss the Proposed Real Property Tax Increase.


The Board of Supervisors has a Joint Public Hearing with the Highland County Planning Commission on May 23 at 7:30 p.m. The next regular meeting is scheduled for June 4 at 7:30 p.m.

Story By


Brit Chambers

Brit Chambers is a resident of Highland County, Virginia and a news reporter for Allegheny Mountain Radio. She loves living in a small town and relishes the outdoor adventures and community feeling that Highland has to offer. Brit has a background in journalism, marketing, and public relations and spends her free time reading good books, baking sourdough bread, and hiking with her family.

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