By Alex Bridges
Shenandoah County leaders landed in uncharted waters when Supervisor Cindy Bailey quit her committee posts this week.
Chairman Dennis Ferguson said Friday no member has resigned from his or her assignments in the 12 years he has served on the Board of Supervisors. County Administrator Mary T. Price concurred with Ferguson.
"I need to step back," Ferguson said. "I need to review who's available to serve on these committees if she's not going to serve. I wish that she would reconsider and participate like all board members are going to participate and help share the load."
Ferguson said he plans to talk to Bailey about the matter.
"If she continues not to do so, I'm not sure if I'm in a position, or even want to make an issue of it," Ferguson said. "I will just find individuals who maybe can take on an additional committee and try to get the job done."
Bailey said Friday she is not required to serve on any committees and chose to resign from the two panels because she needed to devote time to examining the county budget and to prepare for the board's upcoming discussions about next year's spending plan.
"I'm just trying to prepare as much as I can prior to the budget talks so ... I'm more effective as someone who is making decisions on where all this money -- taxpayer money -- is going, and that's my job," Bailey said.
Ferguson said he didn't know if Bailey's action violated any rules.
Ferguson appointed Bailey early last month to serve on the Community Policy and Management Team and to represent the county on the Northern Shenandoah Valley Regional Commission. Ferguson said at that time and again on Friday that he had appointed Bailey to "two, very important committees."
The Community Policy and Management Team, affiliated with the Department of Social Services, "handles a large amount of money every year" and meets monthly.
Shenandoah County can appoint two elected leaders to serve on the regional commission. Ferguson noted that the agency's work affects economic development -- an issue Bailey raised during her campaign. Ferguson pointed out that the commission meets every other month.
"I felt that wasn't an undue burden on a new board member," Ferguson said.
As chairman, Ferguson had the job of assigning the six supervisors to 14 local and regional committees. Each member on average serves on two committees, though some end up on three panels, Ferguson said. Committee assignments last one year, after which a supervisor may ask the chairman to move him or her to another panel, Ferguson explained.
"I try not to give new supervisors more committee assignments than I think they can handle, being new supervisors," Ferguson said.
Bailey asked at the board's regular meeting Jan. 7 that Ferguson appoint her to any other committee besides the regional commission and suggested she serve on the Library Board of Trustees. When it appeared Ferguson would not oblige her requests, Bailey asked that he wait until next year to appoint her to the regional commission.
Bailey said Friday the next regional commission meeting on Feb. 20 would conflict with the public hearing on county schools Superintendent Jeremy Raley's proposed fiscal 2015 budget.
Ferguson also had denied her request to serve on the Rappahannock-Shenandoah-Warren Regional Jail Authority Board. Bailey has been a vocal opponent of the regional jail project for years. Bailey noted that she has experience in the field as a former captain of the Shenandoah County Jail. Instead, Ferguson re-appointed Vice Chairman Conrad Helsley and Price to serve on the jail board.
Bailey says the situation comes as no surprise.
"I don't expect any cooperation out of David Ferguson or [Vice Chairman Conrad] Helsley in what it is that I'd like to do," Bailey said.
Bailey said she needs to devote time to the budget and to major projects.
"That's where my focus is right now -- fixing what's been broken," Bailey said. "I feel like somebody -- and I'll use the old adage -- needs to stay and man the store."
Board members often juggle committee duties during their work on the budget, Ferguson noted.
"I know I am -- I'm hoping that all of our board members are working on the budget diligently and I'm sure they are," Ferguson said. "So there's demand on all of our time. And there are some board members that are still gainfully employed, so they have that burden on them as well."
Bailey criticized the use of the numerous boards, noting that the county pays compensation to supervisors for sitting on some of those panels.
"There are too many committees, commissions and I just think it's too much for the government to keep up with," Bailey added.
Bailey noted that last year Price served on the Community Policy and Management Team, with Budget Manager Garland as the alternate.
Bailey plans to attend the various committee meetings any way as her schedule allows, including those to which she was initially appointed.
"I want to learn and understand, obviously, everything that's involved because it's part of the county," Bailey said.
Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or firstname.lastname@example.org