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Joint meeting: Hunter Field lease details among topics

A proposed lease for Hunter Field and the gym at old King George Elementary School could be one of the topics at an upcoming joint meeting proposed to take place between the King George Board of Supervisors and the county School Board. No date has been set yet.


Supervisor Chairman Dale Sisson said last week at the Oct. 1 meeting during his board report, that he’d had a recent lunch with Chairman John Davis of the School Board.

He said they had discussed the possibility of their two boards getting together sometime in the next several weeks. Sisson received the board’s concurrence to request that county administrator Travis Quesenberry coordinate with school division superintendent Rob Benson to come up with some potential dates that might work for a meeting 6-8 weeks out.

The topic of a joint meeting had likewise been broached at the last meeting of the School Board on Sept. 23, when that group was reviewing a previous revised draft document for leasing Hunter Field to the county.

 

HUNTER FIELD LEASE     
The two boards have been passing drafts of a proposed lease for Hunter Field and the gym back and forth through county attorney Eric Gregory over the summer.

School Board members could not come to agreement on a revised draft on Sept. 23, with Rick Randall and Mike Rose basically in favor of the latest version, but with questions remaining from Kristin Tolliver and Ken Novell.  

Davis had suggested at the time, as at previous meetings, that the two boards may have to meet to hash out terms.

Sisson told his board last week that he and Davis had discussed the lease.

“There were a couple of minor items that he asked me to check on,” he added. “So I’ll pass those along to the county attorney, and Eric can scrub that and get it back to all of us.”

The various drafts of the lease had become more and more specific, with attempts requested to insert language that might address any future eventuality that could occur over a 50-year lease term.

As more specific language was suggested, the more complex the document appeared to get. Supervisors had suggested at a meeting on Sept. 17 that wording be more general.  

“It was looking to me like it was one government entity dealing with a non-government entity,” Supervisor John LoBuglio said.

A similar sentiment had been leveled by School Board member Ken Novell at a meeting on Sept. 9, saying, “We are two organizations working for the ends, the benefit of the county. And this doesn’t sound like it.”

Supervisor Joe Grzeika said, “The last iteration I saw, looked like we were trying to anticipate future problems and solve them today.”

Gregory agreed and the most recent public version had been more general, with Gregory saying, “You can’t always deal with everything in the future,” and adding, “Some of these things have to be open-ended.” He also said of the last version, “There is a provision in the lease to amend it in the future.”

USE OF FACILITIES      
Sisson said other possible topics for a joint meeting could include facility usage and maintenance. He added, “The joint use agreement that we have for Parks & Rec is important to them as well.”

There are other facilities-related topics that might also be appropriate for that future conversation.

Supervisors would be interested to hear about the School Board’s recent decision to retain the former middle school building and make a plan for its future use, likely for one grade of middle school students.
Another topic that might fit with that theme could be an update by the county to the School Board on the county’s ongoing renovation of a facility on US 301 (James Madison Parkway) to be used for school bus maintenance.

When that renovation is completed in about a year, the property will be ready for use as a vehicle maintenance facility, with its first expected use to be solely for the School Board to service school buses and other school division-owned vehicles, with its fleet mechanics.

It is anticipated that the School Board would move its vehicle maintenance operation from its small, antiquated structure located on Millbank Road (Route 610), behind the old King George Elementary school building.

County vehicle maintenance could be added later. For the county to use the facility to service its fleets of vehicles under county departments, along with the Sheriff’s Department and the Service Authority, it must address budget and personnel issues related to staffing for qualified mechanics in the future, since the county does not currently employ any. Instead it relies on local businesses to service its vehicles.

PRE-BUDGET SESSION       
Sisson also said last week that he and Davis spoke about the need to also include some talk about budgeting prior to the start of that process for the next fiscal year.

During his board report, Sisson had remarked about the upcoming budget process in general, referring to talk about it during a breakfast meeting the previous week with state legislators. Those included Senators Richard Stuart and Ryan McDougle, and Delegate Margaret Ransone on Sept. 27.

“There was a pretty tough picture being painted of the budget for the coming year, so we’ll put that out there right now. That’s what dominated a good part of our discussion,” Sisson said.

He added, “The things that are going on with federal budget that we’re seeing today have an impact at the state level, and therefore have an impact at the local level.”

He also noted, “A lot of new burdens are being handed down from the federal side that will have to be absorbed at the state level, which will definitely impact the allocations to us as a locality.

So just forewarning — it’s going to be a fun budget cycle.”

Phyllis Cook

 

 

 

 

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