Leesburg Mayor Kelly Burk took her crusade to establish permanent office space for the town’s elected leaders to the streets this week, hosting office hours Monday at the Leesburg Diner.
Burk, who has served as the town’s mayor for the past two years, said constituents tell her they are surprised to learn that the mayor and the Town Council do not have an office.
While acknowledging that it is not the most pressing issue before the Town Council, “it is a part of what makes the perception of the town,” Burk said from her restaurant booth Monday. “When people call and ask to meet me at my office, my reply is, ‘What restaurant do you want to meet in?’”
Having dedicated office space would better relay a message of professionalism and significance, she said.
“Even Andy Griffith had an office,” Maria Pierson, general manager of the diner, chimed in.
As the Town Council prepares to adopt its fiscal year 2020 budget next week, adding funding for office space does not appear to have majority support. Town Manager Kaj Dentler has estimated that renting private office space, because of the Town Hall’s space constraints, could cost $30,000 annually. Burk said she hopes her colleagues wouuld consider what the impact of continuing not to have a dedicated mayor’s office and shared office space for the council will have for the future, even beyond their terms.
“This is not forever,” she said of the required funding. Burk notes Dentler’s plans to eventually move staff from Public Works from Town Hall to the Utilities Department building following renovations there, freeing up some space.
“It’s only a temporary solution until there becomes a final solution,” she said.
Reporter Patrick Szabo contributed to this report.