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Board of Supervisors to debate reform commission recommendations

Loudoun's Board of Supervisors will debate several recommendations from the year old Government Reform Commission Feb. 6, including a call for a more transparent Loudoun Water and examining the structure of the county's fire and rescue commission.

The all-Republican Board of Supervisors will also consider the county's cost for the government-funded Adult Day Care providers in the county.

Supervisors have already acted on the reform commission's recommendation to bring the function of the county assessor's office under the management of the county's commissioner of the revenue.

The 13-member commission, its members appointed by supervisors, was created when the current board took office in 2012.

Briefing supervisors Jan. 16, reform commission Chairman Tom Julia said his group wasn't considering changes in the county's operations strictly for the sake of change, but looking instead at what could be made more efficient.

“Change for the sake of change is not necessarily good government,” Julia said.

Julia also expressed blunt disappointment in Loudoun County Public Schools' unwillingness to cooperate and partner with the reform commission's effort to look for potential shared services and cost savings.

"It has not gone well, in plain English,” Julia said, speaking of his group's conversations with LCPS. “And I would contrast that greatly with the support and cooperation we've have with Mr. [County Administrator Tim] Hemstreet.”

Loudoun Water transparency

The reform commission would like to see new standards of appointment for county residents looking to serve on the Loudoun Water Board of Directors. Given Loudoun Water is one of the county's biggest utilities, the commission would like to see more transparency from the organization, including the posting of meeting dates, agendas and new requirements for the water provider's annual report.

While supervisors are charged with appointing members of the Loudoun Water board, the utility's board has complete autonomy when it comes to setting rates and the operation of the system.

Supervisor Eugene Delgaudio (R-Sterling) expressed concern that placing standards such as a college degree or a certain area of expertise would deter citizens from volunteering their time for the board.

Fire and Rescue Commission composition

The county's Fire and Rescue Commission should be audited and its current composition reviewed, according to the reform commission's recommendation.

The Board of Supervisors Finance Committee recommended a small group of stakeholders meet to discuss the authority that should be granted to the Chief of the Department of Fire, Rescue and Emergency Services, the purpose and role of the fire and rescue commission and the suggested composition of the commission based upon its purpose and role.

Currently, the county's fire and rescue service is comprised of both volunteer and career firefighters, a system that's been in place for decades. With the county's growing population, supervisors want to explore whether the current fire and rescue makeup – which costs the county about $50 million annually – is sustainable.

“Fire and rescue, we believe, is broken,” Julia said.

The commission has also recommended dissolving the Neersville Volunteer Fire Department and dispersing available funds to other departments in the system.

"We feel very convinced that our recommendation on Neersville is the correct recommendation,” Julia said.

Adult Day Care

The reform commission would like the supervisors to consider the fees charged for Adult Day Care services in Loudoun County, including whether incomes of family members in the same household should be included in the means testing. This is considered as an exploration for ways the county can recover some revenue for the service, according to the reform commission.

The supervisors' finance committee voted 3-2, with Supervisors Shawn Williams (R-Broad Run) and Ken Reid (R-Leesburg) opposing, to recommend to the full board that Hemstreet work with staff to develop a plan for revenue enhancement so the Adult Day Care program is at least 75 percent revenue-neutral.

Whether the county-sponsored Adult Day Care centers are driving out private competition, given it's subsidized by taxpayers, was another question discussed by the supervisors and commission leaders.

“I think it is a legitimate issue of how taxpayer monies are spent,” Julia said. “... one could make the case that this, in fact, disincentivizes the private sector even to go into these areas of business if it cannot possibly even compete in a free-market way ...”

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“Julia also expressed blunt disappointment in Loudoun County Public Schools’ unwillingness to cooperate and partner with the reform commission’s effort to look for potential shared services and cost savings.”

And yet the board continues to provide them with an increased amount of funding year after year after year….HMMMMMMMMM

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