Stanley looking to put county’s ‘house in order’

Published 6:00 am Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Prince Edward County Administrator Doug Stanley recently presented the Board of Supervisors with a list of things that need to be done to “get our house in order.”

Doug Stanley

Stanley used a special budget planning meeting Tuesday, Feb. 23, to highlight a variety of areas where he thinks the county should improve its operations.

“I’m not throwing shade on anybody who was here before, but we’ve got some things to do to get our house in order, and I’m really looking at, for me, my first year, is trying to get that done, and it’s going to take some money, it’s going to take some bodies,” he said.

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His plan addressed 16 organizational issues; 11 facilities issues, including seven related to the Prince Edward County Courthouse; six planning issues; four taxation issues; and three EDA/tourism issues.

Some key organizational issues include the need for a county finance director, the search for which is already underway; the need to update the county code online, which is already underway with MuniCode and had not been done since 2007; and the need for county employees to be evaluated on an annual basis, which has not happened in at least 12 years.

Stanley’s entry plan notes he would like to have the finance director hired in three months, he anticipates the county code being updated online in two months and an employee evaluation system in place in three to six months.

Another issue he pointed to was the need for a receptionist at the county administration office in the courthouse. Stanley noted the office lacks coverage of the front desk and advised consideration of hiring at least a part-time worker to provide this coverage and support.

He also emphasized the need to identify and procure a document management system, something he aims to have completed within a year.

“Our filing system leaves a lot to be desired,” he said. “It takes a long time to find stuff — if you can find it.”

Stanley encouraged the board to consider, within six to 18 months, shifting information technology to being handled in-house rather than outsourcing it as is done presently.

He also advocated for adopting a finance policy to help guide the board’s financial decisions and received no opposition from the board when he suggested Davenport & Company could develop a draft policy.

In terms of facilities issues, Stanley said the county is behind on its normal cycle for selection of an engineer for the landfill. He indicated the county should develop a request for proposal and advertise, hopefully resolving the issue in six months.

He said the schedule should be reviewed for the county’s waste sites as it can be confusing for citizens. He recommended developing a staffing plan within the next six months.

Stanley also highlighted a need for county waste site upgrades that would improve the image of the sites, something his entry plan document indicated would cost $1 million and be a five-year project.

At a price tag of $100,000 a year over five years, he also emphasized the need to upgrade/replace a significant amount of the county’s solid waste equipment/cans.

Among the courthouse issues he pointed out, replacing the flat roof section was the most expensive at $50,000, expected in a three-month timeframe. He also advocated for developing a plan to improve the image of the courthouse lawn within six to nine months. His entry plan said this would cost $10,000.

Among the planning issues identified, Stanley promoted the development of a countywide Capital Improvement Plan within six to nine months to guide budgeting decisions.

He praised the county’s existing strategic plan and simply urged its implementation over the course of the next one to two years.

“At the end of the day, I don’t know how long it’s been since staff has had an across-the-board general salary increase,” Stanley said near the end of the meeting. “We need to look at that as well because I know you’ve got a lot of dedicated employees here, (and) you don’t want to lose them.”

The board did not express any major objections to Stanley moving forward with his entry plan.