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Supervisors consider rescue staffing, refugee resettlement

Albemarle County fire and rescue services could see changes over the next five years.

During a work session on the county’s five-year financial plan, county staff used the example of upcoming possible challenges with fire rescue services provided in the county to show how maintaining certain levels of services change.

Recently, Crozet Volunteer Fire Department asked Albemarle County Fire Rescue to provide weekday staffing for its station, citing a lack of available volunteers and an increased number of “scratched” calls, where the station does not respond or arrives late to requests for help.

A request for more fire rescue staff will be part of the upcoming budget process.

Charlottesville Albemarle Rescue Squad has also told the county that it will be providing only limited Advanced Life Support services for the county on nights and weekends.

“They have indicated to ACFR that this is not an anomaly, this should be considered the new normal,” said Deputy County Executive Doug Walker.

CARS has covered about 147.1 square miles in Albemarle during nights and weekends, mainly along U.S. 29 south and west of the city and in Pantops, Interstate 64 east of the city and up Route 22.

Walker said they were not providing a recommendation at this time, but wanted to acknowledge the changing circumstances.

“We do anticipate they’ll continue to provide some extremely valuable BLS, basic life support, service,” he said. “But we do need to confront the reality of if we’re going to maintain levels of service regardless of population growth, then we want to try to provide recommendations for you to do that.”

After most of the board members asked for more information, County Executive Jeff Richardson said county staff would come back to the board in January, ahead of the budget process, with more information about fire and rescue services.

County budget director Lori Allshouse said the five-year plan includes minor compensation increases and a first step towards increasing county employee’s minimum wage to $12.75

On Dec. 18, the board will discuss how the long-range plan works with its strategic plan. The proposed budget will be presented to the board in February.

Refugee resettlement

The board also agreed to the resettlement of refugees in the county as part of its consent agenda.

President Donald Trump in September ordered that refugees should be resettled only in jurisdictions where both state and local governments have consented to receive refugees.

In November, Harriet Kuhr, the executive director of the International Rescue Committee in Charlottesville, wrote to the county about the order.

Gov. Ralph Northam provided the state’s letter of consent in November.

Charlottesville City Council also gave authorization for the city to accept refugees earlier this week.


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