Good luck to you, Bryan Hill, as you take over the helm of James City County. You're going to need it.
You inherit a jurisdiction with abundant resources, a rich history, dynamic landscape and tremendous people. With it comes with a dysfunctional elected leadership prone to act on whim and ideology rather than fact-based decision-making.
As you settle into your new job, your predecessor continues to collect on a severance package that, should he remain unemployed, will cost the taxpayers more than $230,000 by the time you sit down to your first Virginia Thanksgiving dinner. That's money you might have been able to put to good use making James City a better place.
In your favor is your experience working in a community that bears similarities to James City. Beaufort thrives on tourism and has a growing population of aging citizens. The composition of Beaufort's County Council is politically similar to James City, with conservative ideology dominating the political landscape.
You'll be asked to make difficult choices. In Beaufort your council rejected a meager tax increase that would've cost homeowners with a property assessed at $200,000 about $7 in higher taxes. Instead, you eliminated the jobs of 40-50 people. Perhaps some sought public assistance, which I'm certain was more costly than the $7 a house your council saved the taxpayers.
Put aside pride. Perhaps your predecessor Robert Middaugh's biggest mistake was an unwillingness to consult with those who helped make this county one of the best places to live in Virginia. Seek the counsel of people like former county administrator Sandy Wanner, former supervisors Jack Edwards, Michael Brown, Bruce Goodson and Bob Magoon, and state senator (and former supervisor) Tommy Norment.
Pick their brains. Learn what has worked in the past, and what didn't. Just ask, I'll send you their phone numbers.
Despite your five new demanding bosses, make your own decisions. Stand your ground when you need to. Give ground when it's the right thing to do.
Whatever those decisions may be, we ask one thing. Make them in the best interest of James City County.