Supervisors struggle to prepare minutes

Published 9:47 am Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Our Charlotte County Board of Supervisors has struggled to prepare minutes for five open meetings held between Feb. 21 and April 3, 2017. The Freedom of Information Act at Code of Virginia § 2.2-3707 is clear the supervisors have a duty to record written minutes for all open meetings. The minutes must include a summary of the discussion on matters proposed, deliberated, or decided as well as the meeting location.

I informed the supervisors during the public comment period on April 11 that five meetings lacked minutes. I provided each supervisor a written copy of my comments listing each meeting date. I wrote columns published in this paper on April 26 and June 7, which repeated the need for supervisors to prepare minutes. This paper published May 31 a staff article repeating citizen concerns regarding lack of minutes for budget work sessions. Citizen comments at supervisor’s regular monthly meetings have continued to remind supervisors of their duty to prepare minutes.

After much delay, on Oct.10 the supervisors approved minutes for three of the five meetings. The supervisors failed to prepare minutes for the Feb. 21 work session with the Commonwealth Regional Council and the March 22 budget work session.

The approved minutes only stated that the budget for fiscal year 2018 was discussed and no action was taken. This is an incomplete shell of what happened. The minutes failed to record deliberations on borrowing $6 million, future tax increases, employee raises, repairing the Eureka school, whether to consolidate the elementary schools, and presentations made by the County Sheriff, Treasurer, and Social Services Department.

The approved minutes state all three meetings were held in the boardroom, the front room in the County Administration Office where supervisors sit behind a raised bench for their regular meetings. The truth is only the Feb. 21 joint budget work session with the County School Board was held in the boardroom. The March 14 and April 3 budget work sessions were held in the back room where the supervisors go for their pre-meeting lunches and closed meetings.

Our supervisors: 1. prepared minutes over six months late and then missed two meetings; 2. approved minutes which were incomplete shells of the real deliberations; and 3. incorrectly identified the location of two meetings as the boardroom when in fact they met in the back room, a room out of public sight.

Terry Ramsey is a guest columnist, a 1967 graduate of Randolph-Henry High School and a resident of Charlotte Court House.  His email address is