vanessa-newVanessa Remmers covers Stafford County government and schools for and The Free Lance-Star.

Check here for the latest reports on news from Stafford County. You can email her at

RSS feed of this blog

Just When You Least Expect It

Consent agenda items rarely make waves during board of supervisors meetings, but one in Stafford struck a political and philosophical nerve today.

The item considered approving the recruitment of two positions in the county’s Social Services department. Social services Director Michael Muse made the case for filling the positions, saying that his department has seen a case load increase of 65% in the past three years, including an 85% increase in the use of the Supplemental Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps). The two positions would cost the county $32,070 in salary and benefits as 65% is covered by the state and federal government.

Supervisor Paul Milde said it was the most convincing case for filling a position he had ever seen.

Spending to hire those two positions was ultimately approved with a 5-2 vote (supervisors Cord Sterling and Susan Stimpson voted against). But not until Sterling had a chance to raise his voice against hiring of any kind.

Sterling pointed out that the county faces a $3.9 million budget challenge in the next fiscal year, and refused to approve new hires until a plan is in place to deal with the shortfall.

“We do not have the money. we cannot do this,” he said.

A lengthy argument ensued, pitting hard-line budget hawks against those who saw the hires as a matter of need. Sterling equated the hires to a tax increase and accused Republican Supervisor Gary Snellings of “trying to pretend that he’s conservative.”

Sterling further criticized other recent hirings (and here, and here, and here), including the Deputy Public Information Officer who was hired a few months ago.

Of the 817 funded positions in this year’s budget, 788 are currently filled. Another 19, including the two social services positions, are in the process of getting filled.

Supervisor Harry Crisp made an impassioned plea to fill the two social services positions, relating a story of an acquaintance who struggled to get assistance last Christmas.

“We are going to find a way to save that $3.9 million,” he said.

“Present it,” Sterling replied.


  • Hollerback

    Deputy PIO???? What the heck do they need that for – that’s a luxury in the private sector, and usually the first ones to get laid off in tough times. I can see social services, but not the luxury of an additional communications person considering the fire department has one, the sheriff’s department has one and the school system has one. Why don’t we just condense them into one department (County Communications). Wanna save money, start streamlining the duplicate positions throughout the establishment.

  • Hollerback

    One last thing…….3.9M dollar budget challenge?? Didn’t one of the supervisors just post on their facebook page that we had a 6.5 million dollar surplus thanks to the efforts of this board. Which is it? Challenge or a surplus?

  • rockhillmom

    Amen…we are all trimming the fat at home. The schools, and the county need to do the same

  • kify

    Some positions are necessary. If you agree they shouldn’t fill ANY empty positions don’t complain when there is no one left/no time to deal with an issue that affects you…like a complaint, a building permit or other application of some kind.

  • dfettero

    Finding Money. Attacking Schools and Swimmers !!

    Well they started to find the money. If you have been listening the BOS Tuesday evening they just forgave a slew of development related application fees yet voted to raise admission to our overcrowded, under-sized swimming facilities to generate about $4K per year!!

    In the CIP plan they also decided to charge the schools a 1% ($2.5M) cash capital fee against operating expenses (91% of which pay teachers) to save another $2.5M. Thats the loss of 35 teachers.

    BOS cutting citizens and students throats again!!!

  • dfettero

    BOS attacks FLS and Citizens

    Once again the BOS attacked the FLS for the outstanding journalism related to the USA consultant. The BOS then went on to further attack the “NO” citizens who simply are exercising their civic responsibility and questioning their government’s action. If there is “misinformation” (and there isn’t) then who’s responsibility is it tot have prevented it from happening in the first place.?

    When is it EVER appropriate for local government to attack it’s citizens and the media for exercising their civic duty?

  • Hollerback

    This is a tax increase in disguise! What happened to EVERYONE sharing this burden? Forgave a slew of development fees?? What happened to developers paying their fair share – if I recall, several folks ran their campaigns based on that statement!

    Seems to me that if you have kids and they attend school and participate in sports, you’re screwed all the way around! I’m waiting for the “fees” to start piling up for all sports – we’re already half way there with school sport fees, why not tax little Johnnie’s Rec league??

    Sorry to hear that we’re still dealing with the us vs. them mentality where schools are concerned. I don’t agree with our school’s facilities guy on many things, but he was right on the money yesterday! Score it!!!