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Commission votes ‘no’ to mask mandate

By Toni Milbourne - For the Chronicle | Sep 10, 2021

CHARLES TOWN — The Jefferson County Commission passed a resolution Thursday against instituting a mask mandate in Jefferson County buildings. Included in the resolution was terminology indicating the county would also not enforce or develop a vaccination mandate for county employees.

JCC President Steve Stolipher presented the resolution.

“People are concerned about what we’re going to do with masks and vaccinations. We want to make it clear that we are not going to require a mask mandate for county staff,” Stolipher said, as he presented the resolution for discussion.

Commissioner Jane Tabb raised concerns over the resolution.

“I understand where you all are coming from,” Tabb said to her fellow commissioners who were all in favor of the resolution. “I also think it should be an individual decision.

“But, I don’t think we can predict the future to know we will never have to require masks or vaccinations,’ she added, saying it was her thought that making such a blanket statement at the time was not the best move.

The vote to approve the resolution was four-to-one, with Tabb being the only dissenting vote.

Also during Thursday’s meeting, the JCC voted implementation of the reduced impact fees that had previously been approved in August. Fees for public schools were reduced to just $1, after Stolipher made the motion in August due, he said, to the decline in enrollment in the schools.

The commission maintained the collection of fees for fire and emergency services, as well as law enforcement and parks and recreation. In addition, the commission added an administrative facilities impact fee moving forward. That fee, an added $44 for a single-family home, will go toward funding a new county government complex.

In addition to decreasing the school impact fee for residential construction, the commissioners had also voted at their meeting in August to eliminate commercial impact fees throughout the county. Stolipher said he had hopes that by removing the commercial fee altogether, after it had been significantly reduced in the past, businesses might see that as a favorable incentive to come to Jefferson County.

The vote on the new fee start date once again came with a four-to-one vote, with Tabb being the sole vote against the motion. Tabb had previously stated she disagreed with the reduction in the school impact fee, calling the move “short-sighted” on the part of the commission.