By: Sherry Williams Kidd | Email: Click Here
Posted: Oct. 21, 2017 | 12:00 p.m.
DINWIDDIE – The Dinwiddie Board of Supervisors will again this year attend the multi-day meeting of the Virginia Association of Counties, or VACO, at the Omni Homestead Resort in Warm Springs, Virginia.
According to Dinwiddie County Administrator Kevin Massengill, “VACo conducts this annual training and meeting to determine legislative goals and to vote on legislative priorities for local governments—specifically Virginia counties,” with VACo representing Virginia counties’ interests in Richmond with the General Assembly.
“Dinwiddie Supervisors have been in attendance at the VACo Conference at the Homestead for more than ten years,” said Massengill.
Due to the popularity of this once-a-year meeting of VACo, one member of Dinwiddie’s Board, Supervisor Brenda Ebron-Bonner, District 5, and Administrator, Kevin Massengill, are on a waiting list for the trip and will attend only if space becomes available.
When asked about how the annual retreat is financed, Massengill explained that “Dinwiddie does cover the cost of the meeting/trip for the supervisors and myself.”
In a detailed breakdown of costs for last year’s meeting, which included event registration, per diem, or gas reimbursement, which was not accepted by Massengill or Supervisor Dr. Mark Moore, and food and lodging, with meals being included with the rooms as several attendees stayed for two nights, while others stayed for three, the total cost of last year’s meeting for the Dinwiddie officials attending was $6,627.
According to Massengill, “This figure has remained virtually unchanged for the last several years.”
As the annual retreat approaches, some questioned the need for taxpayer dollars to be used for the event.
Massengill explained that the trip “is not a team-building exercise, and is not specific to Dinwiddie County.
“The VACo organization exists to promote the legislative priorities of counties throughout the Commonwealth,” he said.
When asked if the five-person Dinwiddie Board of Supervisors and Massengill could receive information from the annual event without physically being present in Warm Springs; such as through telephone, email, or video conferencing; Massengill said, “It may be possible, but we would not get to vote.”
This yearly conference also begins the process of preparing legislative goals and priorities for counties and VACo leading up to the January 2018 General Assembly session in Richmond, with counties sharing their individual priorities with the organization. This, in turn, helps prepare VACo in eventually drafting their own comprehensive documents, ahead of lawmakers’ return to Richmond.
According to Massengill, Sunday, November 12, will be the conference’s opening day, with meetings and various sessions beginning on Monday. Tuesday, November 13, will see the event wrap up with keynote speaker Dr. Robert Holsworth, a managing partner at DecideSmart, delivering closing remarks.
“A few of our Supervisors may go a day early, on Saturday, because three or four years ago, several of our Supervisors felt a need to prepare a Bible study or Church service for everyone for Sunday” added Massengill.
Attending the VACo Conference this year will be Supervisor Dan Moody, District 1; Supervisor Dr. Mark Moore, District 2; Supervisor Bill Chavis, District 3; and Supervisor Dan Lee, District 4. Supervisor Brenda Ebron-Bonner, District 5 and Administrator Massengill will attend if space becomes available.
Massengill said he feels this yearly conference and meeting of VACo is so important, “because most of the time we find that managing county government is very similar throughout counties across the Commonwealth, and it is so advantageous for our elected officials, such as our Board of Supervisors, to have other elected officials from all across the Commonwealth together in one place, to discuss the same type of issues, opportunities, problems, and strategies for solutions that may exist in their particular areas.”
“This type of networking of county officials is an important way of sharing resources, thoughts, and ideas, and is highly-beneficial to all our taxpayers,” the county administrator closed.