Bree Key appointed to Planning Commission

By Heather Michon

The Fluvanna Board of Supervisors began their meeting Wednesday night (Nov. 16) with a resolution paying tribute to the late Gequetta Murray-Key, praising her “dedicated service, compassionate leadership, and many contributions to the County of Fluvanna.” 

Murray-Key passed away on Oct. 11 after a brief bout with cancer, leaving vacancies on both the  School Board and the Planning Commission. The Fluvanna County School Board appointed her husband, Andre Key, interim Rivanna District representative on Oct. 17.

Now, her seat on the Planning Commission will be held by her daughter, Andre-A’Bryanna “Bree” Key.

Key, 24, currently works for Monticello High School as a student support specialist and assistant girls’ basketball coach. She is a 2016 graduate of Fluvanna County High School and has a degree in criminal justice from Virginia Commonwealth University.

In introducing herself to the supervisors on Wednesday night, she listed a long resume of public service accomplishments and board positions, noting that she had already dedicated half of her life to community work. Among her accomplishments was founding Packed For Success, collecting backpacks filled with school supplies to be donated to underprivileged students in Fluvanna.

While the main motivation for applying to the Planning Commission was to carry on her mother’s legacy, Key made it clear that she had her own vision for the county.

“I am young, and I’m concerned that there are many people in this county left without a voice,” she said. “As a taxpayer and a registered voter, my opinion matters, and is often not heard because I am not represented. I wish to be here for all identities, including race, gender, and abilities.”

Among her concerns was the lack of affordable housing, especially for young people and young families who might want to make a permanent home in Fluvanna County, and for seniors trying to get by on limited savings and resources.

Five people applied for the position, including Key, Lake Monticello Public Safety Director David Wells, former Lake Monticello Director Bing Spitler, and Parks and Recreation board member Raghendra Singh. Supervisors praised the high quality of all the applicants and their obvious dedication to the county.

Mozell Booker (Fork Union) said she knew some of Key’s community service accomplishments but hadn’t been aware of how much experience she had serving on boards.

“Yes, she is young,” said Booker, “but she came before us and I saw her as a very mature young person, and I would like for her to have that experience on the Planning Commission.”

Key would represent Rivanna District on the commission, and Rivanna Supervisor Tony O’Brien supported her appointment. Looking at the current composition of the commission, he said, “I think there’s a very substantial gap, and that youth and energy and that pride in what her mother was doing” would benefit the community. 

With O’Brien nominating Key and Booker seconding the motion, supervisors voted 5-0 in favor of the appointment.

“Young lady, as long as you smile, your mama will never leave this earth,” Chair Mike Sheridan told her.

Her term as Rivanna commissioner expires in June 2026.

Cigarette tax

With the first revenues starting to trickle in from the county’s new cigarette tax, County Administrator Eric Dahl gave a brief presentation on the status of the program.

Supervisors voted in 2021 to join a regional cigarette tax board and Fluvanna’s tax of 40 cents per pack went into effect on January 1, 2022. 

Dahl said they had predicted Fluvanna would see around $103,000 from January to June of 2022. Actual revenues were $81,885. 

Revenues for the coming fiscal year had been estimated at $200,000. “Just based on a few months of data, we’re projecting about $170,000, which would be a potential shortfall of $30,00 off the estimates.”

O’Brien said that enforcement of the tax was still in the early stages, “so it’s likely you’ll see more growth coming.” 

The Blue Ridge Cigarette Tax Board, which covers Fluvanna, Albemarle, Augusta, Greene, Madison, and Orange counties as well as the city of Charlottesville, has only one compliance officer to monitor the entire region. Compliance officers make sure retailers know about the tax and the need to apply a county tax stamp on each pack sold. 

Dahl agreed that the program was still in its early stages. “Not that we’re encouraging people to smoke, but there’ll be more compliance, so there’ll probably be some increased revenues coming in on that.”

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