At their monthly meeting on Monday, the Rappahannock County Board of Supervisors approved $65,000 to the Rappahannock County Water and Sewer Authority so they can begin working on improvements and studies to evaluate how parts of the system are operating.
Cheri Woodard, chair of the sewer authority, asked the board for $470,600 from the county's $1.4 million allocation in federal pandemic relief aid, saying it’s the first time since the authority’s creation that any member has requested funding from the county.
Woodard said the authority needs money to make repairs on the inflow and infiltration system and to do a structural integrity analysis. The board approved $65,000 to be paid back on a reimbursement basis so the authority can begin repairs and gage what other potential projects may look like.
Woodard said the authority is not in a “crisis situation,” but it's trying to make improvements to the system to avoid a crisis. “It’s not merely a wishlist,” she told the board. “The projects need to be done with or without [stimulus] funding.”
The board took a vote on whether or not to approve the funding which was nearly unanimous, with Jackson Supervisor Ron Frazier abstaining after voicing concerns about whether the rest of the sewer authority was aware of what Woodard was presenting to the board on Monday.
Woodard said that while the information she shared on Monday was not specifically discussed in an official meeting, the authority members voted to authorize Woodard to present to the board and were sent details of her presentation in advance over email.
The county has only received half its allocation of stimulus funding, and Hampton Supervisor Keir Whitson said before the board votes on allocating any more money to other public bodies in the county, they should give other public bodies the opportunity to come forward and request funds.
The sewer authority is the only public body that has come forward to ask for a specific amount of stimulus funding from the county. The Board of Supervisors had conversations about using some of the funds for aiding broadband initiatives.
Piedmont Supervisor Christine Smith asked that the board allocate $56,000 in leftover COVID-19 relief funds from the county’s initial allocation to the Sperryville Fire and Rescue station. That would make up for lost revenue the station would have made through events that were canceled because of the pandemic.
The board did not approve the funding, saying they want to give the other fire and rescue companies the opportunity to come forward to ask for money.
“We value all of our fire and rescue squads, and I’d like to see what the other companies say their financial downfall is … and just do it all at the same time,” said Stonewall-Hawethorne Supervisor Chris Parrish.
Whitson said he wants to hear directly from the companies what their financial needs are.
Last year, Rappahannock County only reimbursed revenue to the fire and rescue companies in Sperryville and Amissville, because they were the only two that indicated it was needed, County Administrator Garrey Curry said Monday.
“I’d just like to see this done sooner rather than later,” Smith said.
The supervisors also agreed to hold a public hearing to consider issuing monetary bonuses to Rappahannock County Sheriff’s Office employees.
During the 2021 special session in the Virginia General Assembly, the bodies approved bonuses for all full-time, state-funded law enforcement officers. The state will provide funding for bonuses for eight of those officers, totaling more than $25,000, or $3,230 each.
There are 20 full-time employees in the Rappahannock County Sheriff’s office, and if the county is inclined to provide $3,230 bonuses to each of those employees, the total county contribution for those bonuses would total nearly $39,000.
“I think it's just a political ploy from those in power in Richmond right now to try and make up for all the trash [talking on law enforcement] they’ve been doing for the last two or three years,” Frazier opined.
In other business,
The body authorized the purchase of a unified records management system for the county’s fire and rescue systems for nearly $19,000. The purpose of the new system would be to bring a streamlined approach to reporting while bringing all fire and rescue systems in the county into one operating system, officials said.
The supervisors authorized Commonwealth Attorney Art Goff to apply for a 100% federal and state grant to fund a Victim Witness Coordinator, who would work with victims and witnesses of crimes and assess their overall well-being and emotional needs. Rappahannock County is one of several counties in the state that does not have a Victim Witness Coordinator.
The board will hold a public hearing on potentially placing several electronic speed display signs at the entrance of village areas. The signs would display the driver’s current speed, and they would track speed data.
Rebecca Haydock, director of the Central Virginia Small Business Development Center, asked the board for guidance on how they can best help assist local businesses in Rappahannock in areas like branding, financial consulting, hiring investors, and other hands-on services.
Victoria Fortuna, president of the Rappahannock County Library Board of Trustees, told the board that the library is currently exploring the feasibility of expanding their current property to 12,000 square feet, which would include more meeting space and an area for teens.