“We don’t have the capacity to do any of this without some help,” County Executive Tom Foley said at a December 14 Board of Supervisors work session in which he recommended Albemarle County staff hire an adviser for development, financial analysis, valuation and other aspects of moving the circuit and general district courts out of Court Square.
While some supervisors agreed, they said the county has more pressing staffing issues it should solve before hiring a consultant to assist with moving the courts: Namely, Foley will not be around to see the project through. After six years as county exec, he recently announced his resignation, effective February 1, to be top administrator in Stafford County, and the county’s first full-time economic development director, Faith McClintic, resigned in October to take a job with the Virginia Economic Development Partnership.
“We don’t have an economic director,” Norman Dill, who represents the Rivanna District, said to Foley. “You’re leaving. We have a new planning director.” Questioning the timing of the court relocation, he said, “It seems kind of silly, actually.”
It was noted that the BOS is working on a tight schedule: The referendum vote on where to move the courts will take place in November 2017.
But Ann Mallek, the supervisor representing the White Hall District, disagrees. “If we don’t start, I don’t see us ever getting any answers,” she said. Supervisors can’t hold a public discussion on moving the courts until they have the information that the expert could provide, she added.
And the supervisor representing the Rio District, Brad Sheffield, said further delaying the project could result in the public thinking they’re “stalling” because of unsound leadership.
Sheffield, Mallek and Scottsville District representative Rick Randolph voted to approve the hiring of an expert, while Dill and BOS chair Liz Palmer, who represents the Samuel Miller District, voted not to. Diantha McKeel, representative of the Jack Jouett District, was not present.