By a unanimous vote last week, the Chesterfield County Board of Supervisors decided to restructure the audit and finance committee following the school board’s recent decision to withdraw from the committee.
The replacement was needed for a quorum as the committee was made up of four members, two from each board, and three were needed to conduct business. Now the committee will only have two members.
The supervisors’ action took place during the Oct. 24 meeting. Board chair Dorothy Jaeckle said she was opposed to splitting the committee, but agreed to the change so that the committee can vote to approve an audit that it is supposed to receive at its Nov. 9 meeting.
On Oct. 9, the school board voted 4-1 to create its own audit and finance committee after board chair John Erbach said the school board wasn’t able to select topics for the supervisors’ committee’s agenda.
Supervisor James Holland said he supported the supervisors having their own audit and finance committee. “This is in the best interest of taxpayers,” he said, noting that the committee worked fine before it added the school board members. “We cut $50 million out of the county budget during the Great Recession,” he said.
Jaeckle disagreed and said “it wasn’t working” when the committee did not have school board members. She believes a joint committee improves communications between the boards and provides transparency.
“I would like to work with the schools to have a joint committee,” supervisor Chris Winslow said. “It forces discussion and forces listening to sometimes unpleasant news [about finances]. We have to come together. These audit and finance topics are so critical.”
Winslow said he hopes the separation is temporary. “This really is a worthwhile effort if there ever was one,” he said.
“We’re committed to finding a way … to have those joint conversations,” said Matt Harris, deputy administrator for finance and administration.