Fluvanna County staff to get bonuses

By Heather Michon

The Fluvanna Board of Supervisors met on Thursday (Dec. 17) after adjourning its Wednesday meeting due to the ice storm. County Administrator Eric Dahl thanked Fire & Rescue, E-911, VDOT, and both the Lake Monticello Police Department and maintenance department for so quickly clearing the roads of downed trees and debris in the aftermath of the storm.

Staff bonuses

One of the biggest items on the agenda was a state-mandated bonus for sworn sheriffs, deputies, and regional jail officers whose salaries are funded in part by the Virginia Compensation Board. At its special session in the fall, the legislature voted to approve a $500 bonus for those positions and gave localities the funding to cover the payment.

Fluvanna has 20 Compensation Board-funded law enforcement officers and received $10,754 to cover the bonus. However, 16 full-time law enforcement officers are not Comp Board funded and would only receive the bonus if the county put up the money.

Human Resources Director Jessica Rice presented the Board with four options:

  • Paying just the required $500 bonus to the 20 Comp Board-eligible positions;
  • Paying a $500 bonus to all 36 law enforcement officer at an additional cost to the county of $8612;
  • Paying a $500 bonus to all 51 public safety workers, including E911 staff and administrative staff at a cost of $16,995;
  • Paying a $250 bonus for all part-time and a $500 bonus to all full-time county staff at a cost of $77,239.

Rice said that because they hadn’t done the usual staff appreciation events or had to pay out travel expenses or hire seasonal staff, there was enough money in the budget to give bonuses to each staff member without having to dip into other funds.

“I guess it just bothers me that just because money’s left over that it gives you a green light to go ahead and spend it on something,” said Supervisor Don Weaver (Cunningham).

Dahl said that, from his standpoint, “we have not been able to do many things for staff this year,” while they have worked extremely hard during a time of real stress and uncertainty.

Consensus quickly built in favor of giving the bonus to all staff. “I’m personally advocating for everyone, the sheriff and everyone,” said Supervisor Mozell Booker (Fork Union). “I think we are not going to do things that we usually do for staff, I think this would be a wonderful gesture and good morale booster.”

The final vote was 4-1, with Mr. Weaver voting no.

Food assistance

With time running out to disperse Federal CARES Act funding ahead of the Dec. 30 deadline, supervisors decided to earmark much of the remaining $90,000 to alleviate local food insecurity.

The Fluvanna Food Bank, run by the Monticello Area Community Action Agency (MACAA) and the Fluvanna Christian Service Society (FCSS), has struggled to keep up with growing demand since the start of the pandemic. While local residents have stepped up with $35,000 in cash donations and several successful food drives since the spring, the food bank’s inventory is likely to be depleted after the holidays.

Under current regulations, the county cannot make a direct donation of CARES Act funds to MACAA, but after consultations with County Attorney Fred Payne, Fluvanna MACAA coordinator Bertha Armstrong, and Beth Thomas of E.W. Thomas, Assistant County Administrator Kelly Belanger Harris told supervisors that Thomas could order Armstrong’s wish list of food and bill the county. Armstrong’s initial list included about $8,000 worth of food, both perishable and non-perishable.

Supervisors first suggested rounding up to $10,000, then discussed doubling that to $20,000. They also debated giving to Meals on Wheels and other local food banks. After lengthy discussion, they voted 5-0 to give Dahl and his staff discretion to allocate between $10,000 and $80,000 to local agencies, depending on their needs.

Firearms ordinances

Earlier this year, a resident reached out to the county to ask about ordinances regarding the discharge of firearms near subdivisions. This has led to a wider discussion about Fluvanna’s current firearms-related ordinances, which have not been updated in many years. Most regulations regarding the use of firearms are issued under state law, but localities do have some local control.

While there are no current plans to revise any existing ordinances, the board did decide to look at other Virginia localities to see how they have structured or modernized their ordinances. They asked for a report sometime in the new year.

Payne warned the supervisors that other localities that have tried to make changes to ordinances have run into public anger on both sides of the gun debate. Several of the supervisors stressed that they were not necessarily looking to make any changes, just to see what other counties had done. “It would be educational for all of us,” said Booker (Fork Union).

In other business:

In their final meeting for 2020, supervisors also approved:

  • A mutual aid agreement between the Fork Union Sanitary District and the Louisa County Water Authority to provide staff in an emergency;
  • A 15-foot-wide easement for Dominion on county-owned property leased to the Virginia Department of Forestry;
  • An agreement with VDOT for the installation of “WATCH FOR CHILDREN” signs;
  • A transfer of $342,000 in CARES Act funding to cover COVID-related expenditures, including salaries and supplies.


The next meeting will take place on Jan. 6 at 7 p.m.

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