The Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to reallocate $156,000 intended for Loudoun Museum in fiscal 2021 to instead fund a number of local nonprofits addressing the impact of the coronavirus outbreak.
The board also directed the county administrator to enter into a revised agreement for fiscal years 2022-2025 consistent with an agreement approved on April 21 and negotiate an interim agreement for fiscal 2021.
The board voted 6-3 in favor of the measure, with supervisors Caleb Kershner (R-Catoctin), Tony Buffington (R-Blue Ridge) and Matthew Letourneau (R-Dulles) opposing the motion made by Chairwoman Phyllis Randall (D-At Large).
“The only way to really extend our budget at this time to cover the people who are going to be in the greatest needs coming out of COVID is to have our nonprofits help us more, and the only way we can do that is to help our nonprofits more," Randall said.
Last month, the board voted to renew its agreement to give Loudoun Museum $156,000 yearly for five years with a five-year renewal. The board also awarded funding to several local nonprofits.
However, since the impact of the virus outbreak, the county has been seeking funds to support county residents in need.
Randall said she spoke with Sharon Virts, president of the museum's Board of Trustees, prior to making the motion.
She said she also took into consideration her conversations with nonprofits in Loudoun and the increasing number of domestic violence arrests and complaints since the outbreak.
“What Ms. Virts said to me is that they can maintain for the next year,” Randall said. “Now, she wasn't happy about this, and she didn't want it to happen, obviously, and we had a long conversation. But in the end, she said they can maintain for the next year. Those were her exact words.”
Broad Run Supervisor Sylvia Glass (D) supported Randall’s proposal. She made a friendly amendment, which was accepted by Randall, to reallocate the funds to nonprofits addressing the county’s needs resulting from the pandemic.
“We need to assist our nonprofit community as much as possible," Glass said. “They are the ones that are helping our most vulnerable in our community.”
County staff is expected to determine which nonprofits have the greatest need for the proposal.
The board's three Republican supervisors were against Randall's motion.
“For me, it's not about the Loudoun Museum -- it’s not about any other nonprofit -- it's just about the process, what we've already told people to do ... and to switch at the last minute, I just don't think we should do that,” Buffington said.
Kershner added, “This doesn't make any sense. It's inconsistent. I'm upset. I'm very concerned about this whole process.”
“I'm concerned about their ability to pay their salaries and make payroll and those kinds of things without our money that we've already committed to do,” Letourneau, the board's finance committee chairman, said. “And I also don't like doing these kinds of things at the last minute because I have less than 24 hours to think about this, let alone have any discussion with them ourselves about it.”
Supervisors also questioned the timing of the request, noting they received it the same day of the vote.
Randall said her priority is to get funding to nonprofits who are helping Loudoun as quickly as possible. If they know money is coming, Randall said nonprofits are then able to use current funds in other ways.
“We don't really have a lot of time for nonprofits to wait. They need that money or to use the money they already have as soon as possible,” Randall said. “I would never have done this otherwise, but I think extraordinary times call for extraordinary solutions.”
Earlier this year the museum requested an additional $78,000 to help establish a formal education and partnership program and to assist the Board of Trustees with the museum's capital campaign. The Board of Supervisors did not take action on that request.