Supervisors decline to consider school board request

by Quinton Sheppard - Posted on Aug 04, 2010 - 04:34 PM

The Gloucester County Board of Supervisors voted 4-3 during its meeting Tuesday night in the colonial courthouse not to entertain a request on behalf of the Gloucester School Board to hold off discussing categorical funding until after a joint meeting of both boards in late September.

The board decided at its July meeting to discuss funding the school system by category rather than lump sum at its Sept. 7 meeting. The board has a joint meeting with the school board scheduled for Sept. 21.

Ann Burruss, chairman of the Gloucester County School Board, wrote a letter to Louise Theberge, chair of the Gloucester County Board of Supervisors, dated July 14, asking that the board wait to discuss the funding matter until after the joint meeting on Sept. 21.

"The school board has asked to be included in this discussion; however, the decision to discuss the matter at your Sept. 7, 2010 meeting with a potential vote on the matter seems to be premature," Burruss wrote. She later wrote, "October appears to give all parties concerned an opportunity for discussion."

Burruss continued, "On behalf of the Gloucester County School Board, I am respectfully asking that you honor our request for a discussion on this issue at the September 21, 2010 joint meeting instead of having the school board make a presentation at the September 7, 2010 meeting (as I believe was the original intent)."

Finally, Burruss asked supervisors in the letter, "What is the problem that you are trying to fix? If you can identify the problem, the school board would have a better understanding of your desire to change the funding methodology."

At the start of Tuesday’s meeting, Theberge asked the board to decide if this could be added to the agenda for discussion and consideration. She apologized for not letting board members know beforehand that they may be voting to place it on the agenda, but was out of town. However, she did note that all board members had received copies of Burruss’s letter.

Supervisors Bobby Crewe (Gloucester Point), John Northstein (Petsworth), Michelle Ressler (At-large) and Gregory Woodard (Ware) voted not to consider the school board’s request.

Ressler said she felt that with five public hearings on Tuesday’s docket, there wouldn’t be enough time for the discussion. However, Theberge made the point that the agenda was very light before the public hearings were set to begin at 8 p.m. The board ended up taking a 15-minute recess because it had finished all other agenda items by 7:45.

Woodard said, "I’m concerned with adding this because we already made the decision to delay this from August to September … It’s not expedient to add it to the agenda (tonight) … It appears the school board is micromanaging us by asking us to add it to the agenda."

He later said, "We all know (the school board) is opposed to categorical funding. That’s a no-brainer." He said, "We need to stay the course" and not be "micromanaged."

Theberge replied, "I’m going to tell you straight up, this (request) is not micromanagement by the school board." Woodard replied, "Straight up, it is."

York district supervisor Carter Borden said, "This is a simple request to delay work on funding methodology until after the joint meeting … And I think it is a reasonable request."

Public hearings

The board voted unanimously to support five items Tuesday night following public hearings.

The first was an amendment to the county’s procurement ordinance. A second was a rezoning of the Burgh Westra Historic District.

A third vote added wood recycling facilities to the RC-1 district under a conditional use permit process. Ware District resident Nathan Brown said it is a shame it took four to five years to address this issue, but was supportive of moving forward with it. Abingdon District resident Charles Kerns Jr. was also in favor of this change, and felt it would be especially helpful following a tropical storm, hurricane or similar event.

A fourth vote was taken on an ordinance regulating discharge of fats, oils and grease. The ordinance, required by a consent order by the Environmental Protection Agency, requires localities to develop, adopt and enforce a program addressing the release of fats, oils and grease into its public sewer system.

Implementation of this into Gloucester’s ordinance primarily will impact commercial establishments, by requiring the installation and registration of all types of grease control devices (GCD) for establishments within the sanitary sewer district and requiring proper maintenance of those devices.

Kerns said he was concerned with churches that may only serve one or two meals a month falling into the same category as restaurants.

Marty Schlesinger, director of public utilities, felt it would not be a problem, as long as the kitchen staff was careful about what they put down the drain.

Finally, the board voted on amendments to the county’s floodplain management ordinance, which basically allows it to stay a part of the National Flood Insurance Program. Revisions include an additional foot of freeboard clearance to the existing elevation requirements for new or substantially improved structures within the flood zones designated on the map.

Other matters

The board approved a resolution authorizing the county clerk to advertise a public hearing for tax exemption by designation for the Gloucester-Mathews Free Clinic.

The board approved a resolution to dissolve the Gloucester Task Force on Community Concerns.

The board continued Tuesday’s meeting to Aug. 30 at 6 p.m. in the Gloucester Library Community Room, where it will discuss reassessment.