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2016-2020 IDA minutes posted online

County Industrial Development Authority (IDA) meeting minutes from 2016-20 that had not been previously posted on the county website have now been published there.

Kate Pickett

Two members of the public brought the absence of updated minutes to light during a March 10 public hearing held by the Prince Edward County Board of Supervisors. The most recent IDA minutes posted on the website were from 2016.

A March 16 check of the IDA minutes webpage on the county’s website did confirm the most recent meeting minutes posted had been from June 28, 2016.

However, a April 8 check of the webpage revealed minutes from IDA meetings in 2016-20 had been added.

Prince Edward County Public Information Officer Kate Pickett confirmed Wednesday, April 8, that all of the IDA minutes had been posted and would continue to be posted online moving forward.

“The County of Prince Edward makes every effort to adhere to both the legal requirements of and the spirit of transparency of the Virginia Freedom of Information Act (FOIA),” she stated. “The act requires that minutes be available to the public for inspection, and the minutes of the IDA have always been available to the public.”

She was indicating that the minutes have always been available in hard copy form at the county administrator’s office, which is located on the third floor of the Prince Edward County Courthouse at 111 South St. in Farmville.

Pickett noted a citizen brought to the county’s attention that IDA minutes had not been posted online for some time.

“While it is not a FOIA requirement, it is the county’s intention to make information of interest to the public available on the county’s website,” Pickett stated.

Prince Edward County Administrator Wade Bartlett echoed one of Pickett’s points when he addressed comments made by one of the members of the public during the March 10 public hearing.

Michele N. Schumacher, of the Lockett District, was one of four members of the public who spoke during the hearing, each of which opposed potential board approval of an IDA request for the county to transfer $1.9 million to the authority for economic development reasons.

In her comments, Schumacher mentioned the last IDA minutes posted on the county website were from 2016 and said it is unbelievable that the Board of Supervisors would allow a commission of the county and an authority not to comply with the laws of the state.

“FOIA requires not only minutes, it requires meeting notices,” she said. “I have yet to see one meeting notice for the IDA on your website. This is abysmal.”

Bartlett noted he was not sure if it was Schumacher’s intention to imply minutes had to be posted on the website, but he stated that if she was saying such posting is a requirement, she was not correct.

“There are no requirements for any minutes for any organization to be on any website,” he said. “What the requirement is, is that they be available to the public — period. … There was no violation of any state code.”

After the March 10 public hearing, the board unanimously approved the IDA’s request, but supervisors and IDA Chairman Brad Watson agreed the 2016-20 minutes needed to be posted.

The address for the IDA minutes webpage is http://co.prince-edward.va.us/IDAminutes. shtml.