Silence follows action

Published 1:10 pm Thursday, August 25, 2016

Crossroads Community Services Board officials declined to explain or comment on action regarding real estate taken following a closed session during its meeting Tuesday night.

Immediately after the board approved minutes from its June meeting and the year-to-date financial report, members unanimously agreed to enter into closed session regarding personnel and real estate items.

The closed session lasted about 20 minutes. Afterward, the board voted unanimously to approve a one-time bonus for both part-time and full-time employees in the amount of one week’s salary. The bonuses will be issued in the near future.

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The second action was to unanimously accept the finance committee’s report regarding real estate.

“I move that we accept the recommendation from the financial committee in regards to the closed session on real estate,” said Donnie Bryan, a Buckingham representative on the Crossroads Board, who also represents District Two on the Buckingham County Board of Supervisors.

There was no discussion on the motion, which was adopted unanimously.

“Okie dokie,” said Lunenburg representative and Board Chairman Sidney Smyth immediately after the vote. “We’re moving down now to the executive director’s report.”

Following the meeting, The Farmville Herald asked Crossroads Executive Director Dr. Susan Baker and Smyth for an explanation and comment on Bryan’s motion regarding real estate. The two declined, and Baker said she wouldn’t address the action until Thursday.

Crossroad’s committees generally meet before the 7 p.m. full board meeting.

The portion of the Code of Virginia cited before entering into closed session regarding real estate says governing bodies may discuss or consider “the acquisition of real property for a public purpose, or of the disposition of publicly held real property, where discussion in an open meeting would adversely affect the bargaining position or negotiating strategy of the public body.”

Also, the commonwealth’s Freedom of Information Act Council has offered opinions stating the substance of a motion voted on in open session must be reasonably identified. The Virginia Coalition for Open Government has interpreted this to mean while a public body may be concerned about revealing the purchase price of real estate before finalizing a deal, a motion being voted on could be more specific in terms of the property being purchased or sold.

During meetings in February, March, April and May, members of the board entered into closed sessions to discuss real estate, but took no action after returning to open session.