- Last Updated on Wednesday, 21 January 2009 18:20
- Published on Wednesday, 21 January 2009 18:20
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Frustrated Developers, Stephen V. Cirbee, of Trinity Building Company, refuses to shake hands with Mayor Fred Rummage, (Center) while Developer Michael Dzaman, of Monroe Point Housing project, speaks with Councilman Kennedy, (left) after Council meeting to raise water and sewer connection fees.
For almost a year since its introduction the proposed water and sewer fee increase has been opposed, revamped, and opposed again. Each time the fee increase got smaller as did its public oppostion.
At the January 8 public hearing only a handful of citizens spoke out against the 20% increase in water and sewer fees. No doubt the frigid weather and the feeling of public defeat had something to do with the low turnout of citizens.
Three representatives of the Monroe Point project spoke out against the proposal at the January 8th hearing, however their interest was sided towards the rate hike on connection fees which will see an increase of 100% by July 1st of this year. Currently water and sewer connection fees run $6000.00 collectively and will shoot up to $12000.00 by the middle of this year.
The consensus of the council during Jan. 8th was the need to look at the matter more carefully and pursue budget cuts as well. “Raising taxes and budget cuts go hand in hand,” said Councilman David Coombes who suggested the Council recess for one week and take a long look at both when they return on Jan. 15th.
At the Jan 15th meeting no comments where heard from the audience since the public hearing portion of the meeting was closed last week, but that didn’t stop Michael Dzaman, one of the developers from Monroe Point and Stephen V. Cirbee of Trinity Building Company, Inc. from speaking their mind after the meeting.
When mayor rummage approached Cirbee to shake hands Cirbee stated, “I’m not going to shake your hand!” explaining to Rummage he was mad that his written testimony was not included in last week's meeting or the discussions presented at this meeting.
Cirbee was unable to attend the January 8th hearing due to weather out of state and illness. Cirbee emailed the council on January 8th a copy of the 20th Annual Virginia Water and Wastewater Rate Report of 2008 from Draper Aden Associates. A set of three letters were hand delivered to the Council on January 15. Cirbee’s letters discuss three different scenarios builders are faced with when hooking up water and sewer connections and the different costs incurred by the builder.
The first, building on lots with existing connections, bears the least cost to builders.
The second, newly subdivided lots which involve improvements from the builder that benefits the whole town's system such as creating circulating loops, adding fire hydrants and expansion potential to downstream users. Cirbee contends that “Developers incur considerable upfront costs in installing these extensions and enhancements to the town-owned systems well in advance of creating any revenues from home sales or lot sales."
The third scenario, individually owned existing platted lots, with no available utility services. Cirbee states that installing utilities to these lots can be quite expensive as well as the need to install public road access to some.
Cirbee sums up his letter by suggesting, “The town should structure its utility connection fees and rates so that all undeveloped parcels in the town have equal potential for development and improvement.”
During the meeting both (Councilmen) Coombes and Kennedy suggested that the resolution be split to further examine the cost Connections. That idea was quickly abandoned because this would require a new hearing and meeting, most members of the board felt these issues needed to be pushed through now.
Part of the proposed budget cuts for the general fund included, cutting overtime, cutting transportations costs, and even the idea of furloughs which Council members Ridgley and Payne stated was a last resort and there were none planned at this time.
Karen Payne informed the council and public that although the potential cuts to the general fund amounted to $60.000.00 the Utility fund is a separate entity and the funds could not be combined or moved.
One other item that was introduced into the agenda and passed on January 15th was the approval of Resolution #05-09 Requesting legislative action by the Virginia General Assembly Related to Golf Cart Crossings.
The resolution is the first step in a recommendation from VDOT to provide for golf cart crossing from Second Street to Old Road to avoid crossing at the traffic light which puts golf carts on private property with no legal/approved access to the shopping center. Access to Old Road allows golf cart traffic to enter at the back of the shopping center without crossing the grassy area between McDonalds and the east side of the shopping center parking lot.