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BPOL reduction, employee raises also discussed at committee meetings
While the Economic Development Committee chaired by Steve Kennedy talks about marketing plans and feasibility studies designed to increase tourism revenue to our town, the Budget and Administration Committee, chaired by Sparky Ridgely, appears ready to stop a yearly stipend to the Colonial Beach Chamber of Commerce, the town’s biggest sponsor of annual events.
Budget and Administration Committee
The committee met on Thursday evening and reconvened on Monday at 1 p.m. due to a full agenda. On Thursday, committee member Karen Payne revealed her proposed plan to reduce town Business, Professional and Occupational License tax rates. Currently some businesses in town pay the maximum allowed rate found in the VA Code, which are as high as 58 cents per $100 of gross revenue, which is higher than any neighboring locality. The BPOL rate in King George County is a flat 25 cents per $100 in gross revenue. The committee agreed that reducing the BPOL tax would serve to encourage new businesses opening in town and will present Payne’s plan to full council in February or March for consideration.
During Monday’s reconvened committee meeting, the discussion of providing a yearly stipend to the CB Chamber became heated after the committee listened to a report by Town Manager Val Foulds that itemized the costs the town incurred due to the Chamber’s sponsorship of an APBA jet ski race event held in August 2010. According to figures presented by Foulds the town incurred costs of $8,716 and an additional $1,000 in costs expended by the CBVRS and CBVFD for a grand total of $9,716. The costs included an initial donation by the town of $5,000 to promote the event, port-a-johns, parking enforcement, and labor for three town department heads and police staff.
In response to a request by Mayor Fred Rummage, Foulds provided a comparison of 2008, 2009 and 2010 August meals and lodging tax receipts, which showed minimal gain in revenue for August despite the weekend jet ski race event with August totals at approximately $33,000. Chief Financial Officer Joan Grant told the committee the August numbers showed “no anomalies” and were based on revenue figures.
However, one important figure was not made available during the meeting — the revenue figures for parking fees that were imposed beginning in 2010. To date, the town has generated more than $28,000 in parking fees. Although parking fees were not included in looking at revenue for August, it is clear that parking fees may play an important role is weighing costs versus revenue for special events held in town. Rummage urged the committee to compare costs versus revenue “for every special event.”
The town initially reduced the chamber’s donation last year from $4,000 to $2,000 and then in August, reduced it further to zero. Council member Gary Seeber requested the committee recommend council “restore contributions to the Chamber back to $4,000.” Seeber noted that “The Chamber’s insurance policy is made available to all organizations” holding events in town and produces a yearly brochure that contains “significant town-related information.”
In response to Seeber’s request, Mayor Fred Rummage noted “It wasn’t an oversight, we knew what we were doing when we did it.” Vice Mayor Burkett Lyburn noted “Let the budget stand as it is.”
Seeber then raised the question of providing raises to town employees. According to Foulds, if the town provided raises of 3 percent to employees who have been in place since 2008, and raises of 1.5 percent to employees in place since 2009, the cost to the town would be approximately $23,994. The committee agreed to place the issue of providing raises to full council for consideration.
In other matters, the committee also agreed to recommend council proceed with a sale of town-owned land on Lawrence Lane and agreed to review a request by the School Board for reimbursement of $413.50 in permit fees paid and a request by High Tides for reimbursement of $3,650 paid in loudspeaker permit fees.
Committee Chair Steve Kennedy opened the discussion about creating a walking/bike path around the point by changing Irving Avenue and Monroe Bay Avenue to one-way streets. Kennedy noted that many residents and visitors enjoy biking and walking along the waterfront and a dedicated route would “enhance our town.” The committee agreed to request VDOT perform a traffic study. Gary Mitchell, Director of Zoning, reported on Phase III of the Chesapeake Bay Act, which requires a review and revision to local code implementing water quality performance criteria. Mitchell will present the town’s revised ordinances to council in May.
Public Safety Chair Shane Buzby presided while Foulds presented a plaque of appreciation to former Interim Police Chief “Butch” Wells. New Police Chief Kenneth Blevins signed his contract with the town and reported that Sergeant Don Webster has been promoted to Lieutenant and Captain William Seay has been promoted to Deputy Chief of Police.
Public Works, Water and Sewer
Committee Chair Seeber reported on current negotiations to request a bond issue for a loan for pipe repair in the amount of $500,000 and a new jet truck in the amount of $250,000. According to Seeber, both the new water and sewer pipe replacement and the jet truck are urgent needs to maintain the town’s infrastructure and it is expected to come before council by March or April.
Public Works, Streets and Roads
Committee Chair Karen Payne reported that the Virginia Institute of Marine Science survey results will be available in February or March that will require sand replacement on town beaches. Foulds reported that VDOT has decided to rehab the 205 bridge near Wilkerson’s rather than widening the bridge. Work is not expected to begin until 2012.
Ridgely, on behalf of the Volunteer Rescue Squad, presented a plaque to Rob Murphy, Director of Public Works, for Outstanding Community Service.