Actions louder  than words

Published 6:17 pm Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Editor, The Smithfield Times:

The Surry County administrator and the Surry Board of Supervisors have created a county theme of “Unity in the Community.” In the public hearings on May 12 for the real estate tax increase and the 2023 budget, the administrator and two board members took actions that were far from “Unity in the Community.”

During one citizen’s three-minute comment period, the administrator interrupted the citizen and declared that the topic being presented did not pertain to the budget. One board member requested the citizen be allowed to finish. The administrator continued to insist the topic, a local grocery store that has public funds supporting it, was not part of the budget discussion. At this point the deputy administrator stepped in and declared the matter closed because the three-minute allowance of time had expired. The citizen then had to protest in order to have time restored so she could finish her comments.

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Once the public hearings were closed, the next agenda item was to discuss unfinished business of hiring a full-time attorney (which is a new county employee position proposed in the budget). Immediately upon moving to this agenda item and with no discussion the board chair called for a motion to advertise for a full-time attorney. The Spring Grove board member made the motion, and since the Dendron member had left the meeting early due to personal responsibilities, only the Surry board member was left. He reminded the chair that the discussion on this item was still unfinished and that without that discussion this was not business the board should decide on at this time.

The chair proceeded to disregard the fact that discussion remained to be held and took a roll call. Both the chair and the Spring Grove member voted aye while the remaining board member had only one option and left the meeting, thereby removing the perceived quorum the board was operating under.

Possibly the board should adhere to Robert’s Rules of Order. While a quorum is competent to transact any business, it is usually not expedient to transact important business unless there is a fair attendance at the meeting, or else previous notice of such action has been given.

So, it seems there is unity in Surry, but it is not with the Surry community.


Dianne Cheek