Full story: supervisors

“It will be helpful to have some kind of vision of what it’s going to look like.”  To that end, supervisors established a six- to eight-member steering committee tasked with conceptualizing economic development at Zion Crossroads.  Long-time economic development advocate Joe Chesser will serve on the steering committee, as will Bob Ullenbruch, whose Palmyra district includes the Zion Crossroads area.


The goal of the steering committee is to put together the “Zion Crossroads Sketch Plan,” which will serve as a road map or blueprint for economic development in the area.  After meeting throughout the summer and gathering public input, the committee will present the final draft of its sketch plan to the board on or around Aug. 7.  At that point, concrete steps towards economic development will begin.

The board also became aware of challenges facing Fluvanna social services.  Presenter Tom Payne regretfully informed supervisors that “we’ve become a training ground for adjacent counties.”  Lured by higher salaries or better benefits in surrounding counties, personnel are leaving the department.  To remedy this situation, Payne hopes to raise salaries to more competitive rates.  When questioned on the precise reason for the turnover, Payne stated that stress and other issues have played a role, but this year specifically, “the driving factor has been making more money nearby.”

A twenty-first century debate swirled in the next portion of the meeting: Should the county supply necessary employees with cell phones or give them a stipend to subsidize their own?  Currently, the county manages more than 20 cell phones and their plans, a time-consuming process that includes reviewing usage, monitoring minutes, paying bills, and making sure individual phones stay in working order.

Offering employees a stipend to take care of their own phones and plans, therefore, would be a dramatic simplification.  Most employees have their own phones anyway, and some would prefer to make their personal phone a work phone as well rather than carry two cell phones.

The problem with this idea is that any personal cell phone used for work would become “discoverable,” meaning that it would be subject to examination for information should the need arise.  Of course work-related information would be the subject of the search, but any information on the phone could be viewed.  Supervisor Mozell Booker expressed concern that some employees would not be comfortable with the knowledge that their personal communications could be perused.

County administrator Steve Nichols countered that some individuals, such as himself, have no issue with that scenario, and in fact find it preferable to the hassle of carrying and managing multiple phones.  Employees would of course be informed of the possibility of search should this policy be adopted.

At this point, the debate is just hypothetical, but surely won’t remain that way for long.

Supervisors wrapped up the meeting with an encouraging third quarter budget report from finance director Barbara Horlacher.  All revenues and expenses seem to be on target for this point in the fiscal year, which ends June 30.  Horlacher conducted this assessment in order to avoid any unpleasant last-minute surprises.


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