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Bonuses assailed
Health department funds are called unfair

Monday, November 26, 2012

The Henry County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday will consider paying its share of state bonuses to certain employees in the Henry-Martinsville Health Department, despite the fact that the county staff calls it an “inherently unfair practice.”

The state promised a 3 percent bonus to employees if state agencies met certain budget targets. Those benchmarks were achieved, according to board documents.

State officials then determined that local governments must share in paying the bonuses because localities also contribute funds to the agencies.

It is believed that the health department is the only agency the county must help fund, and the county’s share of the bonus is $8,655.58.

The Health Department found the county is due a $5,162.39 refund from the fiscal 2012 contribution, which the Health Department has asked to keep. The county then would be asked to pay the difference of $3,493.19 to cover the rest of its share of the bonus.

County staff have “a fundamental issue with paying for a bonus to employees over whom neither the board of supervisors nor the county administrator has any supervisory control. Staff also has a problem contributing to these bonuses when our own employees have no extra money coming their way,” board documents stated.

“This in no way should be taken as a criticism” of Health Department employees, “but rather of a system that makes localities pay for something they had no part in approving or managing,” board documents stated.

County staff contacted state representatives “to seek a remedy for this inherently unfair practice,” but board documents also noted that “it is our responsibility according” to the state to help pay the bonuses. As a result, “staff reluctantly recommends approval of the additional appropriation.”

The supervisors will meet at 3 p.m. Tuesday in the Henry County Administration Building. In other matters, the board also will:

• Consider a list of projects for the Regional Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS).

Annually, the West Piedmont Regional Economic Development District (which serves Henry, Patrick, Franklin and Pittsylvania counties, the cities of Martinsville and Danville and the town of Rocky Mount) updates the strategy and then forwards the plan to the U.S. Economic Development Administration to ensure participating localities are eligible for EDA funds.

Local projects must be prioritized into three categories: priority 1: construction or implementation projects that are in the advanced stages of planning; priority 2: projects that are in the planning stages and are not ready to be implemented; and priority 3: nonconstruction and nonimplementation projects of a special economic development purpose that may include special issue studies, basic data collection and analysis, feasibility studies and technical assistance projects.

Among the proposed local priorities are site work on the Commonwealth Crossing Business Centre; building a 40-slip marina at Philpott Lake; the Grassy Creek sewer improvements along Grassy Creek and U.S. 58; the Monta Vista water line in Oak Level; and the Virginia Avenue Transportation Enhancement Project to improve the Virginia Avenue (U.S. 220) corridor.

Only projects on the list are eligible for EDA funding, board documents stated.

• Hear an update on activity associated with the Smith River, the economic impact and possible ways to enhance that impact from Brian Williams and Andy Parker of the Dan River Basin Association.

• Consider consent items, including confirming the minutes of the Oct. 23 meeting and approving accounts payable.

• Hear a report from County Treasurer Scott Grindstaff on delinquent tax collection efforts.

• Hear a monthly update about the Martinsville-Henry County Economic Development Corp. from Mark Heath, president/CEO.

• Consider awarding a contract and approving an additional appropriation for GPS and surveying equipment.

Engineering and Mapping Director Tim Pace asked the supervisors to award a $29,449 contract to Caron-East Inc. of Chesapeake for GPS and surveying equipment.

The current equipment was bought in 1998 and that manufacturer no longer is in business, which makes it impossible to get upgrades and parts. Also, the software is not compatible with newer computer operating systems.

The new equipment will improve accuracy, productivity and efficiencies in static surveying and general mapping.

The Henry County Public Service Authority will pay half the cost of the new equipment.

The county’s share — $14,724.50 — was not included in fiscal 2013 budget, and would be taken from either the contingency fund or reserves if the proposal is approved.

• Consider awarding a $36,054.20 contract to low bidder Tennis Courts Inc. of Richmond to resurface tennis courts at Jaycee Park in Collinsville.

• Consider making an additional $20,000 appropriation to help pay the $90,696.65 cost of extending a natural gas line to the shell building.

Commonwealth Laminating recently bought the shell building in the Patriot Centre industrial park for an expansion. The county was obligated to provide utilities to the site, including the natural gas line. Work on that line recently was completed by Southwestern Virginia Gas Co.

The $20,000 contributed to the project by the Martinsville-Henry County Economic Development Corp. requires an additional appropriation.

Savings from grading Lot 2 in the Patriot Centre will pay the remaining cost. Those funds were provided by the Virginia Tobacco Indemnification and Community Revitalization Commission and transferred to the gas line project with the commission’s permission.

• Consider an additional appropriation and transfer of the proceeds from the sale of the former Irisburg Elementary School, as requested by Schools Superintendent Jared Cotton.

The Virginia Department of Education requires that the proceeds be used for capital projects. Cotton has indicated that the proceeds will be used to install air conditioning in the Laurel Park Middle School cafeteria and upgrade lighting controls in the Magna Vista High School auditorium.

• Consider meeting in closed session to discuss appointees to the Anchor Commission, Building Code Board of Appeals, Fire Code Board of Appeals, Ninth District Development Financing Inc., and Public Service Authority; pending legal matters; the acquisition/disposal of real estate; and as-yet unannounced industries.

 

 
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