The Montgomery County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously on July 24 in support of a resolution requesting a General Assembly amendment allowing for private officers to be eligible for the same benefits afforded to public police officers under the Virginia Line of Duty Act.
Additional action was taken by the Montgomery County Board of Supervisors in a resolution honoring Police Officer Mark Christopher Wagner, II, who was killed in the line of duty on June 16, 2023, while serving with the Wintergreen Police Department.
Supervisor and Chair Sherri Blevins spoke in support of the amendment stating that her husband, a retired state police officer, now works for Carilion Clinic as a private police officer.
Additional information about the VALODA, Virginia Line of Duty Act, can be found on their website at https://www.valoda.org/.
A special use permit for a short-term rental property was unanimously approved by the Supervisors. Justin Sanders, Senior Planner, presented to board members on the request for the property on 1950 Oilwell Road, located in the county between Christiansburg and Blacksburg.
Supplemental regulations require that short-term rental properties meet with certain standards regarding safety, noise ordinances, property boundaries, and other requirements as stated in the county code. Blue Ridge Escapes would manage the property, upon approval of the proposal, in the absence of the owner who currently lives outside the area.
The Board of Supervisors also unanimously approved a total increase in the FY 24 budget, due to the appropriations itemized in the agenda on the www.montcova.com, totaling $105,243,124. This total includes $98,984,978 for school capital project balances and $6,258,146 in school capital project encumbrances. A public hearing must be held when the amount of the cumulative appropriations exceeds one percent of the currently adopted budget.
Citizens were invited to speak on either agenda item with no one coming forward to address the Board.
Deputy County Administrator and CFO Angie Hill opened discussions with the supervisors in the work session part of the meeting to discuss legislative priorities for 2023. Hill stated that these priorities must be finalized by October.
“I fully support and fully agree with all our legislative priorities except for the final legislative priority under education ‘Support School Vouchers or Tuition Tax Credit for elementary and secondary students who attend private and home schools. Provide public school students with a voucher or tax credit to be spent on private school or home school tuition,’” Supervisor April DeMotts said. “As in the previous two years, if that remains on our legislative agenda, I will vote against our legislative priorities.”
Supervisor Mary Biggs agreed with DeMotts on the education item concerning school vouchers and tax credits. A study done by JLARC, or Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission, addresses this funding for education.
“They are basing the funding on staffing instead of the number of students,” Biggs said.
Supervisor Todd King, Supervisor Steve Fijalkowski, and Supervisor Darrell Sheppard spoke in support of the provision of school vouchers or tuition tax credit.
“I think they need to have a choice and so, I am definitely in favor of it,” Fijalkowski said.
Blevins also spoke in support of the school vouchers and tuition tax credit.
“There’s a lot of frustration with parents in our school systems right now and this just gives them another opportunity and a choice,” Blevins said.
King requested an update from the Superintendent of Montgomery County Public Schools, Dr. Bernard Bragen, on the ongoing Eastern Montgomery Elementary School’s fire suppression system.
“They had to test it, a monthly test for what the rate would be. Off the top of my head, I don’t know if that’s completed exactly or what that would be,” Bragen said. “I will give you an update tomorrow morning.”
“Until it’s fixed, we still have firewatchers?” Blevins said.
Bragen confirmed that they are in place.