A resolution regarding the Culpeper County Board of Supervisors’ intention not to fund non-governmental entities that imposed COVID-19 vaccine or testing mandates failed due to the lack of a second during a meeting Tuesday.
According to the resolution, the board sought to reduce the administrative burden on staff regarding funding requests from non-governmental entities with mandates that were unlikely to succeed in light of upcoming budget processes.
If passed, the funding would have ceased in fiscal year 2023.
The board greenlit funding for 34 non-governmental entities this fiscal year including Rappahannock-Rapidan Community Services with $402,698 and Germanna Community College with $28,158.
Supervisor Tom Underwood made a motion to pass the resolution, however none of his colleagues seconded it, resulting in a failure to go to a vote.
On Sept. 19, Underwood posted his stance on vaccine mandates on social media, triggering discussion on the topic.
“As one member of the Board of Supervisors, I can assure you that Culpeper County will cease all support for and cooperation with Powell Wellness Center as of November 1 if they fire a single employee or cause an employee to resign over a vaccine mandate,” Underwood, who represents the Salem District, wrote on his personal Facebook page.
Underwood said on Sept. 20 he has had multiple constituents approach him about the potential of losing their jobs if they refuse to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
Underwood said the Nov. 1 deadline was one Powell set forth, and not him.
He continued he wasn’t specifically targeting Powell but included other employers such as the Virginia Department of Transportation.
According to Culpeper County Finance Director Valerie Lamb, the county does not and has not ever funded Powell Wellness Center.
In the comments section of his social media post, Underwood invited the public to view communication exchanges between supervisors via email about the proposed resolution.
“I hope the entire Board and staff agrees that clarity on our position on COVID mandates is the #1 issue for constituents and employees,” Underwood wrote in an email to his colleagues dated Sept. 14. “If there is not clarity on this, let’s add discussion relative to the importance of COVID vaccine mandates to our agenda.”
“If COVID mandates are the issue, it is time we have a backbone and get real,” the email continued. “Our constituents want it, demand it, pray for it. We need to be prepared to answer their demands.”
In other emails, Underwood proposed other possible repercussions for entities who imposed mandates.
“To the extent it is legal, we should also add that we hereby revoke the tax exempt status that has been previously granted by the Board to any organization imposing a COVID vaccine mandate on its employees,” Underwood wrote in an email dated Sept. 20.
Prior to the failed motion, the board engaged in a heated discussion about a prior resolution that would have prohibited mandates for county employees.
Despite Underwood arguing it would be the most important resolution the board would ever vote on, supervisors Paul Bates and Brad Rosenberger explained that although they did not agree with the government mandating vaccines, they determined the resolution’s passage may be “hasty” or have “bad timing.”
Chairman Gary Deal, who read from a prepared written statement, added passing the resolution could possibly invite “unintended consequences” from the federal government via cuts in funding or other penalties.
Underwood called his colleagues “wimps” before the resolution failed with a 5 to 2 vote. Underwood and C. Jack Frazier casted the lone yes votes.