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Loudoun supervisors’ pay raise advanced for a July 20 vote, but not without a fight

After weeks of anticipation for a public hearing on a proposed 62 percent salary increase for the next Board of Supervisors, only three members of the public showed up Wednesday night, and supervisors, not citizens, turned out to be some of the toughest critics of the proposal.

The hearing began cordially with questions and comments from board members about the process of implementing a pay raise, but it quickly went south after Vice Chairman Ralph Buona (R-Ashburn) questioned those board members in favor of the pay bump’s “timing and optics." Buona, who is opposed to the pay hike, provided some glaring accusations.

“This is about our 18th month in office, I don’t think we would have done this in our fourth year in office ... 'let’s do it early in the term so that citizens forget about it by election time and let’s do it in the summer when everybody’s on vacation, let’s hold a public hearing while everybody’s on vacation, and, oh by the way, let’s do it at the very last business meeting before the board takes its August recess … so everybody that votes yes can run and hide and not have to deal with their constituents,'" Buona said, suggesting the mindset of his colleagues on the other side of the proposal.

Leading up to Wednesday’s public hearing, dozens of Loudoun residents took to social media to vehemently oppose the pay proposal, but the three public speakers who attended, including former interim Supervisor James Bonfils (R-Broad Run), all spoke in favor of the raise.

If approved, the pay hike would not take effect until the next board’s term in 2020 and would raise the board's current salaries of $41,200 to $66,826, the compensation for the chair from $50,000 to $81,100 and compensation for the vice chair from $45,320 to $73,363. After that, supervisors would receive a 2 percent salary increase for three years.

The Board of Supervisors has not received a pay increase since 2008.

So far, three supervisors have remained opposed to the pay hike: Buona, Suzanne Volpe (R-Algonkian) and Geary Higgins (R-Catoctin).

Supervisor Kristen Umstattd (D-Leesburg) has supported advancing the item for discussion but has indicated she will not support the amount proposed within the increase.

Under Virginia code, the board cannot increase its compensation during the current term. According to County Attorney Leo Rogers, they also cannot put the proposal up for a vote via referendum.

Several supervisors in favor of the raise have argued it would widen the pool of applicants for future boards and remove financial barriers to accessing public office.

Supervisors have also made the argument that the raise would not necessarily be for themselves because they either may not run for re-election or might not be re-elected.

But the vice chairman called that argument “disingenuous.”

“The last thing I hear is a lot of members up here saying, ‘Well it’s the next board that get the raise, I don’t know if I’m going to run again,’ Buona said. “That’s disingenuous because I think everybody up here for the most part knows if they are going to run again or not.”

In response to vice chair’s accusations, Supervisor Ron Meyer (R-Broad Run) shot back and questioned Buona’s motives for such staunch opposition to the raise.

“There’s a reason why the most vocal opponent of [the pay raise] is the most independently wealthy on the board,” Meyer said, referring to Buona, who is the vice president of business development at Telos Corporation.

Meyer also said the reason why the three most vocal opponents of the raise shared that view was because their districts were either built out or there was “very little is happening with land use or transportation," which takes a significant time for the district supervisor to review.

First-term Chairwoman Phyllis Randall (D-At Large), who worked with Supervisor Matt Letourneau (R-Dulles) on the proposed pay raise, said Buona’s accusations were flat-out wrong and that she had gone out of her way to inform citizens and organizations about the proposal and the public hearing.

“There's always going to be a time when somebody’s going to say it’s not the right time to do this,” Randall said. “So, not only am I not running and hiding, I’m going out and begging people, and I’ve actually said, ‘No matter what you think about it, come in and come to the board room and speak to us.'”

Randall also said it would be “very unlikely” a majority of supervisors would be around for the next term. The chairwoman said that when she spoke to several board members about re-election, only one of her colleagues told her they would seek re-election, while others said they either did not plan to run or did not know. One of those undecided, she said, was Buona.

Letourneau also disputed the vice chairman’s claim and pointed out that five years ago the board voted on one of the most consequential land-use decisions -- Metro -- in July.

“We are here having a public hearing in July, we do see fit to vote on all these important matters, including a significant phasing change to a major application in July, so if we’re able to do that then I think we’re able to take this up,” Letourneau said. “I will also point out that we made the most consequential decision in the last 50 years of this county, which was to opt into Metro, the day before July 4th. So, don’t give me that … nobody’s trying to hide anything, if we were, we would be doing a really bad job of it.”

Supervisors voted 6-3, with Buona, Volpe and Higgins opposed, to send the pay raise proposal for action to the board’s last business meeting before their August recess on July 20.


Contact the writer at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or on Twitter at @sydneykashiwagi.


See related coverage here:
Loudoun supervisors considering 62 percent pay hike for next board
Loudoun supervisors advance 62 percent pay hike proposal

Comments


I can always count on Suzanne Volpe to do the right thing.  We’re very lucky to have her representing us!


The pay cannot be enough to compensate the Supervisors for the whining they put up with. Even a tax them till they die like Randall should be paid more for the abuse from the school crowd alone.


what this board really needs to implement is Term Limits….2 terms and your done….I like how the Governor works, you get 4 years and your out…let’s see which politician will put forth a term limit policy up for a vote…..maybe Loudoun voters can vote on this next election cycle?


I, for one, am completely in support of a pay raise for my Supervisor Matt Letourneau. He works for us and deserves to be compensated adequately for the time he devotes to our community.  It’s not a part time job for him - it’s his nights and weekends away from his family serving us.  He has more than earned a raise.  I’ve lived in Dulles South for 5 years and, in my opinion, Matt has always had our best interests at heart.


I’ve been so disappointed with the Loudoun-Times’ coverage of this. The pay raise doesn’t affect the current board, they haven’t received a pay raise in nearly a decade, and they want the pay to be commensurate with the amount of growth in the county. I’ve had a discussion with Matt Letourneau and I’m satisfied that what they are doing is not nefarious or self serving. Shame on you for not covering this accurately.


“I’m going out and begging people to come speak to us” to quote Chairwoman Randell. Prior to the meeting, I wrote Chairwoman Randell and voiced my opposition to this outrageous pay raise to include my opposition to Sheriff Chapman earning $183,000.00 a year which is more than the FBI director earns and President Trump’s chief of staff earns. Chairwoman Randell never answered my e mail much less tell me, or any other citizen I know to come to any meeting.
Deputies earn $10,000.00 less than cops in Leesburg. School teachers need a raise too. Yet, this board wants a 62 percent pay raise? Every board member knew what the job paid when they ran. If its not enough money, resign! Teachers and deputies can’t get a pay raise of more than a few percentage points. You should do the same! Loudoun employees get 2 percent raise, you get a 2 percent raise. That’s fair and equitable!

I personally wrote every member of the board to let them know I wrote Randall oppossing the 62 percent pay raise!

In closing, I am willing to bet that the taxpayers will not forget who voted for this outrageous pay raise as they properly vote to return a Republican to the chair and they vote criminal Saines out of office too. Thank God for Corey Stewart who will also rid this great Commonwealth of big mouth Kaine!

Brian Allman
Democratic nominee for Sherriff of Loudoun County - 2015


I was at home with my child so I didn’t come to the meeting to speak - but I do not support that big of a raise.  Buffington represents me and I was hoping that he would have proposed a moderate increase.  But he didn’t.  I guess he wants the full 62% increase.  As a taxpayer, I do not want to pay this amount.  There are all things we want that we cannot have.  Like foreign language teachers in elementary schools. C’est la vie. I will use my vote next election to speak.


Performance based, I like the idea…the arrogance of some of these board members is astounding and should be noted by voters.  if you don’t like the pay find another job, don’t make the taxpayers fund your P/T gig (with paid staff and office stipend) as a F/T job—it isn’t and as one of your bosses, none of you are worth a 62% increase….-signed by a concerned taxpayer. Can they build robots for this job, one that just says no to dishonest developers…


Perhaps the discussion on pay should be performance based including a decrease to $1 per year if appropriate. Let’s see - has traffic congestion gotten worse? Are the Dulles Airport parking lots still property tax free federal property? Is HHMI, the hospitals and other non-profits still completely able to avoid any property taxes? Has the extremely obvious Route 15 north of Leesburg problem been addressed? Has VDOT been made to meet at least its own minimum published standards? OOPS - better be careful or someone might suggest a pay decrease if some actual improvements are managed.
Bob O__ Esq.


The ethically challenged Chair Randall is at it again suggesting she tried to get folks informed and to speak publicly about the pay raise. Randall posts about nearly everything on her Chair Phyllis J Randall Facebook page and often includes invites to BOS meetings. She has even occasionally posted pics of her working out.

But nowhere on that Facebook page is an invite to address the pay raise issue. Maybe an ethical chair deserves a raise, but Randall deserves to be voted out of public office for good. I can’t think of a more dishonest politician.


My Crazy BoS is looking for a raise,
an extra 62% for is all the rage,
asked the citizens for more dough,
insisting the office is full-time, ya know.

They seem to have the votes,
but I still say “NO!”

 

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