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Albemarle County supervisors select chair, vice chair

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The Albemarle County Board of Supervisors’ first meeting of 2016 began Wednesday with the unanimous elections of Liz Palmer as its new chairwoman, and Diantha McKeel as its vice-chairwoman.

Palmer, a Democrat, is serving her first term as a supervisor for the Samuel Miller District, and McKeel, an independent, also is serving her first term as the Jack Jouett District supervisor.

“Thank you very much, board, for this opportunity to serve,” Palmer said after the unanimous approval. “I really appreciate it.”

Wednesday’s meeting also was the first meeting for newly elected Supervisors Rick Randolph, of the Scottsville District, and Norman Dill, of the Rivanna District. Both are Democrats.

The Board of Supervisors also appointed members to the planning commission. Daphine Spain, Jennie More and Pam Riley will serve the Rivanna, White Hall and Scottsville districts, respectively. Julia Monteith will serve as the University of Virginia representative, and Timothy Keller is the at-large appointment. Both are currently serving.

The Board of Supervisors had one action item on the agenda: the reorganization of the Department of General Services and the Office of Facilities Development to create a new department called Facilities and Environmental Services. It was unanimously approved by the board.

Bill Letteri, deputy county executive for financial and management services, presented information about the reorganization and combining of the two departments, which will go into effect Feb. 1. Trevor Henry, currently the director of the Office of Facilities Development, will serve as the director of the new department, effective on the same date.

According to an executive summary of the resolutions brought before the Board of Supervisors, the Department of General Services already includes public works and environmental services, and the Office of Facilities Development, which was once a part of general services, was created in 2007 with a more focused approach on managing the county’s Capital Improvement Program.

Combining the two, according to the summary, would be more effective in delivering services to residents of the county and “would align the organization to meet future urbanization needs.”

Letteri added that the change is “revenue neutral,” meaning the reorganization will not cost taxpayers additional funds. And with George Shadman retiring as director of general services, funding will be available to pay for a new environmental chief position within the new department.

The Department of Facilities and Environmental Services will consist of three divisions: environmental services, public works and project management. The new chief would oversee the environmental services division.

Henry said the county hopes to start looking for candidates in January.

“I don’t have the exact date,” he said. “I would like within the next two to three weeks be out with a job posting for that position.”

Henry also said that citizens shouldn’t expect to see any differences in services offered by the two departments when they are combined into one.

Letteri said the project management division will closely mirror what the facilities development office has been doing. Public works will involve ground maintenance, building maintenance and custodial operations for the county.

The environmental services division will provide many of the same services already provided by the county, Letteri said, and will be broken down into three sections, which are environmental management, water resources and materials management and recycling.

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