- Published on Tuesday, 15 May 2012 22:58
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Wanda Goforth presented the council with a petition signed by 160 citizens challenging the council to oust town manager Val Foulds and began looking for a replacement at last week’s town council meeting.
Mayor Rummage wrapped his gavel and warned Goforth, “You gotta be very careful what you say because I will not allow anyone to stand up there and attack.”
Feeling challenged, Goforth interrupted and continued while trying to keep her composure, “I believe that the citizens need to be heard and this is what they are doing. They are showing the council members who are supposed to represent them, what they find.”
Goforth then read the petition naming voters and business owners as the signers which read, “We petition the town council to re-evaluate the position held by the town manager.
We feel we would be better served to have this position filled by someone more qualified as a town manager, someone that would live within the limits of the town, and could be hired at a lower salary. Please consider interviewing for this position having all applicants compete for the position.”
Goforth added, “I want to add something, this is my comment, a lot of people felt very strongly about this but they declined to sign because they were afraid of retaliation. I just want to say that I hope this does not happen because we could get a lot more signatures than what’s there. There are more sheets floating around it was not an organized thing.”
Val Foulds commented on the petition Monday, saying, “I embrace participatory democracy in its many forms. I recognize that in an active and robust election cycle, such as we are in right now, it is not unusual to see the chief administrative official take some heat from certain groups.”
Foulds said she does not plan to look at the petition because although she works hard to recognize citizens’ emotions when dealing with the public in order to empathize with them, she is still human and does not wish to let anything negative enter into how she deals with citizens.
In a town with a population of 3543, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, 2,182 of which are registered voters according to the Westmoreland Voter Registration Office; that’s 4.5 % of the population and 7.3 % of the registered voters.
However on close inspection of the petition in some places up to 4 votes appear to be in the handwriting of one family member and one line reads for both in the same handwriting, ex. Jane and John Doe.
Val Foulds was named interim town manager on Sept. 6, 2008 after Tim Krawczel was put on paid administrative leave. Foulds was later was named town manager in Feb 2009.
Here salary started $95,000 a year and she has only received a 3% raise in the last year when all other town employees were awarded a raise. Her raise criteria included the same stipulations as all other town employees.
Town code and her contract does not stipulate that town managers must be residents within the town limits. Only elected officials are required to be residents.
The town managers contract is in accordance with Virginia Code, which does not stipulate educational or experience requirements.
Foulds has a bachelor’s degree in business, minor in management studies and worked for the Bank of America from 1979 to 2005 when she retired.
Foulds brought managerial and financial experience to the town, working under several town managers before she was named interim town manager.
Rumors have been circulating that Foulds’ car was bought by the town. The contract states, “In lieu of a monthly vehicle allowance the town will provide access to a clean and appropriate town vehicle for use by the town manager.”
Foulds has opted to use her personal vehicle rather than use a town owned vehicle and furthermore gets no vehicle allowance in accordance with her contract.