Loudoun's Board of Supervisors have sent to committee a controversial proposal that could lead to the restructuring or dissolution of several county commissions and advisory boards.
The measure, presented by Supervisor Janet Clarke (R-Blue Ridge) and voted on May 15, specifically recommended the discontinuation of the county's Arts Advisory Committee, the Animal Advisory Committee, the Courthouse Grounds Facility Committee and the Landfill Special Exception Review Committee.
Clarke is pitching the proposal as a practice in more efficient and consolidated government. Reasons to scrutinize the organizations, she said, include the groups' inability to draw a quorum during meetings, a potentially outdated purpose and too much county time and taxpayer dollars being spent to assist the commissions and boards.
Approximately 544 community members serve on the county's 51 committees, commission and boards, something Clarke made note of to highlight the county resources needed to assist the groups. Most of the bodies utilize a Loudoun County staff liaison and are subject to county regulations, such as the Freedom of Information Act.
Certain boards and commissions are mandated by state law and won't be reviewed, several supervisors said.
The Board of Supervisors' finance committee will review the effectiveness and makeup of the majority of the groups, though the board's economic development committee will examine the Economic Development Commission and the Rural Economic Development Commission.
“This board has been clear about being focused on efficient and effective government and we've taken several steps toward that end since taking office almost a year and a half ago,” Clarke said.
About a half dozen members of the public addressed the board May 15 to express their discontentment with Clarke's initiative. Many of them serve on various committees, commissions or boards and claimed these groups actually save the county money, given their members examine county issues without pay.
Donna Lewis, chairman of the county's Animal Advisory Committee, said she takes issue with the process by which the board gathered information and studied the proposal.
Lewis said her committee has provided “the exact venue to bring all concerned parties” relating to animal rights and animal control together to mediate any potential problems.
“This proposal arrived with very short notice,” Mary Terpak, a member of the Rural Economic Development Council said. “I believe that any sweeping proposal such as this should have the benefit of full discussion between the board, the committees, staff and the public.”
Supervisor Ken Reid (R-Leesburg) cast the lone dissenting vote on Clarke's motion to send the item to committee. Reid's friendly amendment to narrow down the organizations to be scrutinized failed to garner support.
“Any time you mess with boards and commissions … you're going to have a buzz saw of opposition,” Reid said. “ … Every one of these commissions think that they are doing God's work. They think that they are important.”
Click here to read the county report on Clarke's proposal.
This story has been updated from a previous version.