Supervisors Revamp Committees, Plan for Arts Plan

After an attempt last term by the Board of Supervisors to trim down the county’s more than 40 citizen advisory committees and commissions resulted in few changes, a second look by the Ad Hoc Committee on Advisory Boards, Commissions and Committees has resulted in more sweeping changes—and more could still be to come.

Following that panel’s final report July 5 supervisors voted to shrink the Disability Services Board to 11 members from its current 15 seats, six of which are vacant and awaiting an appointment by supervisors, upon request from that board to make it easier to meet their quorum. They voted to direct the Housing Advisory Board to align its mission and work to the county’s Unmet Housing Needs Strategic Plan. The Lyme Disease Commission and its funding will be absorbed into a subcommittee of the Health Commission. Stipends for the Board of Equalization have gone from $15 an hour to $200 per meeting. And committees will provide regular written updates on their work to the county board, adopt a standardized bylaws template, and operate under amended procedures and codes of conduct giving supervisors more latitude to remove members.

And, supervisors now are looking ahead to a countywide arts plan—and a possible fight on proposed but not yet enacted revisions to the Rural Economic Development Council.

Supervisor Juli E. Briskman (D-Algonkian), who chaired the ad hoc committee on committees, said people may not have expected her to try to streamline and shrink bureaucracy when she was elected—but that’s what she sought to do.

“I believe that the work here will result in a more efficient use of our advisory bodies and more align them with the goals of our board, as well as hopefully reduce staff time on some of our committees and boards,” she said.

And although Loudoun is a hot spot for Lyme disease, which can have serious, life-long consequences when left untreated, Supervisor Sylvia R. Glass (D-Broad Run) who also served on the ad hoc committee said the Lyme Disease Commission has laid the groundwork for fighting it.

“Lyme Disease is certainly not gone, and it still prevalent in Loudoun. That being said, through the commission’s tireless efforts, the last decade of laying a good foundation, their workload can now be completed through the Health Commission,” she said. “I know Lyme Disease will continue to be a focus of that group.”

A County Plan for Public Arts

Supervisors also voted to take a more active role in arts in the county and in government buildings. That included moving the county’s own permanent art collection from the third, fourth and fifth floors at the Government Center—now largely inaccessible to the public with new security procedures in place—into various public buildings; setting up satellite art galleries in public buildings like community centers and senior centers; buying a box van and setting up a traveling Art Van; and issuing a call for local artists to donate sculptures to place in gardens around public buildings. The Arts Advisory Board will also add the portraits of current and past supervisors to its collection for curation.

And when county supervisors begin discussing how to spend the previous fiscal year’s year-end county budget balance, typically in December, they will discuss spending some of that money to hire a county contractor to develop Loudoun’s first Countywide Arts Plan.

A Rural Economic Development Shakeup

Supervisors deferred voting on changes to the Rural Economic Development Council, which have already drawn criticism from some members of that panel.

Currently the council, which advises on rural economic strategy and projects, allows for 25 voting members including standing members from the Loudoun Soil and Water Conservation District, the Loudoun Farm Bureau, Visit Loudoun, and the county’s Agricultural District Advisory Committee. The council’s bylaws for the 21 additional seats recommend members from a wide range of agricultural business and business-adjacent sectors, such as production agriculture, horticulture, the wine industry, the equine industry, environmental resources, banking and finance, historical tourism, and bed and breakfasts.

There are also non-voting seats set aside for the Chamber of Commerce, the Coalition of Loudoun Towns, the Virginia Cooperative Extension and economic development offices like the Small Business Development Center and the Economic Development Advisory Commission.

But recommended changes from the ad-hoc committee would removing voting power from standing members representing the Agricultural District Advisory Commission, the Loudoun Soil and Water Conservation District, Loudoun County Farm Bureau, and Visit Loudoun. Voting members would be selected from business clusters including horticulture/viticulture, protein production, plant-based food production, fiber, the equine industry, outdoor recreation, bed and breakfast/rural lodging establishments, arts & culture, the craft beverage industry, and, new to the committee, unmanned aerial systems. There would be spots open for a further two at-large representatives.

Currently, the council’s mission statement is to “promote the sustainable economic growth and vitality of Loudoun County’s agricultural, horticultural, equine and other rural industries.” It would be revised to “support monetizing land without building and development.”

Supervisors voted to take that discussion up in the board’s Finance, Government Operations and Economic Development Committee in September, following the county board’s August recess.

5 thoughts on “Supervisors Revamp Committees, Plan for Arts Plan

  • 2022-07-07 at 4:25 pm

    How about “revamping” the budget, in order to give Loudoun taxpayers a little relief?

    The Tax-and-Spend (D)s on the BoS cannot be blind to the financial pain that is being felt by working families, can they?

  • 2022-07-07 at 4:33 pm

    I’m not sure Supervisor Juli Briskman is the best advocate for an Arts initiative. To date she is best known for writing expletives on public sidewalks in chalk!

  • 2022-07-07 at 5:50 pm

    I’m glad supervisors are focusing on an Arts Plan. Why is there a dearth of murals in the Land of Love? Murals are expressions of creativity & should permeate Loudoun County. They brighten our lives & help beautify even the most blighted areas. It’s time for the supervisors to roll up their sleeves & ensure murals become a reality everywhere in Loudoun. Happy Picnic Month Loudoun!

  • 2022-07-08 at 10:11 am

    Three things jump out at me.

    The fact that there is a Committee on Committees.

    The issue surrounding year end remaining budget money is focused on how to spend it.

    A stipend was increase from $15 per hour ($75 for a 5 hour meeting] to $200 per meeting (regardless of how long the meeting takes).

    • 2022-07-11 at 12:16 pm

      “The issue surrounding year end remaining budget money is focused on how to spend it.”

      That is one of the biggest problems of government and its agencies. If they don’t spend the money allocated that year, their budget for the following year could be reduced.

      If they did it correctly they would take this money, return it to the general fund or deposit it in a rainy day fund, have a surplus on-hand for the following year, and then not have it impact the budget of the agency returning that money as a reward for not spending recklessly.

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