Supervisors talk election security, dangerous dogs at supersized July meeting

By Heather Michon

The Board of Supervisors carried on its summer tradition of packing two meetings into one on Wednesday night (July 5), dealing with issues ranging from election security to dangerous dogs before taking a break for the rest of the month.

Secure Elections

Scott Newman of the Fluvanna County Electoral Board and Registrar Joyce Pace requested $20,000 to help bring the county into compliance with the state’s Local Election Security Standards (LESS).

“These are standards to safeguard our elections, primarily in the infrastructure in the Registrar’s Office and their connection to the state,” said Newman.

LESS regulations change annually, and at one point numbered over 400 different rules. The state has whittled that down to 150, but “they are still not things we have the expertise or bandwidth to do,” he added.

Pace said the county has not always been in full compliance with LESS, but in the past, they only had to inform the state that they couldn’t meet all the requirements. Now, failure of compliance could cost the county access to state databases, which Pace said was not a good position to be in with a presidential election on the horizon.

The consulting firm BW Murray & Company specializes in election cybersecurity and is used by several rural counties that, like Fluvanna, lack the staff to conduct the type of testing required under LESS. Supervisors unanimously approved a disbursement of up to $20,000 in county funds to cover the contract.

Deputy Pay

Sheriff Eric Hess requested increases in recruitment bonuses, retention pay, and other salary increases in a bid to keep Fluvanna competitive with surrounding counties.

“The changes that have gone on in adjacent agencies does not put us at the top of the pay scales,” he said. “People are not flocking into law enforcement. They don’t want to work the weekends and the holidays and such.”

If surrounding departments are offering higher starting salaries, bigger sign-on bonuses, and better pay for less desirable shifts, Fluvanna “becomes even less competitive.” 

Over recent months, he’s received only one or two new applications for open positions. 

To bring Fluvanna to a more competitive spot, he recommended increasing starting pay from $49,200 to $52,500 for certified deputies and from $46,800 to $49,500 for non-certified deputies; increasing sign-on bonuses from $5,000 to $7,500 for certified deputies and creating a $4,000 bonus for non-certified deputies, and increasing differential pay from $1,100 to $2,200.

Some of the funding for these changes could come out of the savings created when more senior staff leaves the department, which sees an average of five retirements or resignations per year. County Administrator Eric Dahl said there were too many variables to calculate the financial impact of the increases, but he estimated it could come to about $65,000 over the course of a year.

All three motions passed by votes of 5-0.

Dangerous Dogs

Outside Lake Monticello, Fluvanna County has no prohibition on dogs running loose. This can create a dangerous situation for residents confronted with a persistently menacing dog in their neighborhood.

“I’ve been an animal control officer for two and a half years, and since I’ve come here, I’ve been inundated with complaints about not having an ordinance,” said Deputy Virginia Strong.

Problem dogs kill chickens, injure cattle, fight with other dogs, and create an atmosphere of fear for residents who feel they can’t safely go outside. 

Strong said one resident called her crying one day “because I couldn’t do anything and she and her children did not feel safe playing outside in her own yard on her own property.” Strong spoke to the dog’s owner, but couldn’t back that up with any legal action.

She would like to see Fluvanna adopt an ordinance like Louisa County’s, which excludes working farm dogs and hunting dogs, and creates an escalating series of steps for repeat offenders starting with warnings and moving up to fines and possible misdemeanor charges.

Strong stressed that this type of ordinance isn’t a “leash law,” but instead says your dog has to be under control at all times. 

From her own experience as a deputy in Orange County when they adopted a running-at-large ordinance, Strong said “the first year or two would be difficult, but then after that, it will calm down.” As residents saw that there were financial consequences for letting their dogs run loose – even if those fines were relatively small – they saw incentives to keeping the animals confined to their own properties.

There was no motion on the table, but supervisors tentatively agreed to look at a draft ordinance when they return next month.     

Related Posts

dewi88 cuanslot dragon77 cuan138 enterslots rajacuan megahoki88 ajaib88 warung168 fit188 pusatwin pusatwin slot tambang88 mahkota88 slot99 emas138