Potential voting law changes could seriously affect county registrar’s office

By Heather Michon

Representatives from the county registrar’s office told the Board of Supervisors during a work session on Wednesday (Feb. 26) that a potential change to state voting laws could have serious impacts on the office and its budget.

Registrar Joyce Pace and Catherine Hobbs, chair of the electoral board, said that the legislature was likely to pass a 45-day “no excuse” in-person voting law. If passed, the law would go into effect in July, just ahead of the 2020 presidential election.

Basically, this would require Pace to have a voting machine accessible to any local voter who wanted to cast their ballot during office hours for the 45 days prior to an election or a primary. That brings with it a host of potentially expensive issues.

Pace and Hobbs said compliance with existing election law would require them to purchase at least one new voting machine and a part-time person to help staff the polling site. They would also have to figure out where to place the machine. Parking and office space at their current office space is limited and not easily accessible.

The county may end up having to move the registrar’s office to a rented space somewhere else in the county, although County Administrator Eric Dahl said there were few good rental options currently on the market.

Pace and Dahl told supervisors they would continue to explore options in the coming weeks. The impact on the department’s proposed budget won’t be known for some time.

Representatives from the Fluvanna SPCA, the public library, social services, and the fire and rescue association also spoke to supervisors during the work session.

As with constitutional officers earlier in the month, few of the departments asked for anything more than minor funding increases.


Fluvanna SPCA president Gerri Russell updated supervisors on the organization and talked about some of their ongoing projects and issues. They are asking for $330,000 from the county to act as Fluvanna’s designated animal pound, an increase of about $29,000 over Fiscal Year 2020.

Russell said some of that money would be put to increasing staff salaries, which they have been working to raise for several years. “We’re still trying to keep good people,” she said, “and it’s a hard job.” Increasing the pay has helped them reduce staff turnover over the last year. Reflecting on the recent rabies scare, she said that staff would be getting pre-exposure rabies vaccinations going forward.

County library

Library Director Cyndi Hoffman said they now have “over 91,000 items in the library, and the computer use is still rampant.”

Her statistics show the library had about 225,000 visits last year and hosted 600 meetings and programs. They have 11,800 active users, with about 12,000 people using the computer lab and Wi-Fi. The summer reading program continues to grow, with over nearly 1,000 children participating in 2019.

Hoffman said they expected $96,000 in state funding and were requesting $394,250 from the county, almost level with the funding for FY20.

Social services
Kim Mabe of Social Services said they were “pretty happy” with the budget proposed by County Administrator Eric Dahl.

Her only caveats were that the state legislature was likely to pass some new regulations and mandates that could impact her staff’s caseloads–but until the provisions pass, there’s no way of telling how much they might be affected.

The governor’s budget calls for an increase in staff salaries for social service workers. Because salaries have been so low for so long, there’s a statewide crisis in filling positions and retaining staff, and the current budget would put some money towards the problem. However, if the measure passes, it might require localities to put in some matching funds. For Fluvanna, it looks like the local match would be around $10,600. “Whatever the state gives us,” she said, “please let us take it.” 

Fire and rescue

John Lye of the fire and rescue association had no major requests but did advocate for personal property tax relief for their volunteers, saying “the amount of volunteer time saves the county a lot of money” each year.

Another issue he raised was the prevalence of cancers among firefighters, who are exposed to not just smoke, but dangerous chemicals in the line of duty. “We would like to include a cancer policy on the health insurance.”

Lye said these measures would “help us retain the committed and vibrant volunteer force that we have now.”




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