- Last Updated on Wednesday, 03 November 2010 14:40
- Published on Wednesday, 03 November 2010 14:40
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Before Mayor Fred Rummage was allowed to speak before the Budget and Finance Committee, chair Sparky Ridgely requested that town employees Barbara Goff and Val Foulds leave the room. The issue on the agenda was two controversial 2009 resolutions that evicted the mayor from his town hall office and further barred the mayor from entering town hall without an invitation or appointment. Those resolutions were based on town employee complaints to council members that Rummage was disruptive and created a hostile work environment. The resolutions and the mayor’s subsequent eviction from town hall were spearheaded by council members Steve Kennedy, Ridgely and former council member David Coombes.
According to council member Steve Kennedy there was “constant interference and badgering of town employees” by Rummage. Ridgely noted that “we witnessed what was going on — employees were throwing up and crying.”
In response to the town employee allegations, Rummage said “it’s hogwash about me scaring people.” Rummage further stated he doesn’t believe the allegations against him, claiming the allegations “are a ruse — the former town manager was dismissed because of allegations that he, also, scared the women. This is the first time in my career that I’ve ever heard that.”
Rummage believes the actions taken against him through the 2009 resolutions came about as a result of several actions taken by him in his tenure as mayor. Rummage stated he was “criticized for expressing his concerns” about an audit report not being presented to council in a timely fashion. Rummage also noted that his contact with the VA Department of Conservation and Recreation requesting assistance relating to Chesapeake Bay Act mitigation issues on waterfront property on Bryant Avenue was another reason for his eviction from town hall.
Rummage also cited his stance on security at Riverwood Apartments and on issues of homeowners’ use of town-owned street-ends as causes for the actions taken against him by council. Rummage further cited that other council members blamed him for the current town manager’s initial reluctance to accept a permanent position as manager.
According to Rummage he was denied due process in April 2009 and has since been kept “in the dark” by council. Rummage then reminded council that he was elected by the citizens in May of 2008.
“People said to me ‘we’re sick and tired of the good old boy network that runs this town’ as I campaigned door to door,” Rummage said. “We need to keep the public and me out of the dark.”
Nine citizens, including former town mayor Pete Bone, spoke in favor of the mayor having an office. Resident Joe Mills said he was tired of all the “bad ink in all the papers” and that council needs to “get on to running the town.” Resident Diane Pearson urged council to provide “an office for the mayor” noting “it does not have to be in town hall.”
Council member Karen Payne summed up the proceedings and recommended the committee urge council to “look into locating an office outside of town hall.” Burkett Lyburn, council member and vice mayor noted that Rummage “can have a room in the back of the town meeting room.” And that he is “tired of all the bad press about this mayor’s office.”
The Budget and Finance Committee, consisting of Sparky Ridgely, Burkett Lyburn and Karen Payne agreed to make a recommendation to town council that the mayor be provided with an office outside of town hall.
In other matters, Foulds noted there will be a public hearing on Nov. 11 to address the defacto tax increase on real property. When questioned by Ridgely as to the status of this issue, Foulds answered “It is in the best interest of everyone to advertise and make this happen.”
Payne urged the committee to do an analysis to see if the town should reduce the BPOL rates citing the town’s reputation of “not being business friendly.”
Council member Gary Seeber noted the town also “needs a process so we don’t just hand out a stack of paper — we need to identify potential new businesses and follow up with them.”
Seeber also noted that when council previously repealed the boat tax, they inadvertently did away with Westmoreland County’s portion of those personal property taxes, which amount to $1.14 per $100 that should be collected and paid to the county.
Economic Development Committee
Two representatives of Johnson Controls appeared before the committee, having been invited by committee chair Steve Kennedy, to give a presentation on energy efficiency in government buildings. Johnson Controls will provide a no-cost preliminary audit of town buildings’ energy efficiency with a goal of partnering with the town to find steps the town can take to increase energy efficiency that are funded out of savings to the town.
Public Works Water and Sewer Committee
Committee Chair Seeber reported on town water pipe problems. Seeber noted that 4,200 feet of pipe needs to be replaced. The cost to replace the pipes is approximately $500,000, which could be financed with bonds and would result in an increase of $4.50 per quarter on residents’ water bills.
Public Works Roads and Streets Committee
Committee Chair Payne noted that the committee would like to approve a new location for over-the-street banners announcing town events on Route 205 at the entrance to the wastewater treatment plant. Diane Pearson has donated the cost to construct the poles. This would allow the town and chamber to advertise upcoming events without paying a $100 fee to VDOT.
A citizen requested the committee to look into the town’s EPA policy relating to three effluent sites and the status of Monroe Bay, which is currently classified as a “dead zone” by the EPA.
Committee Chair Shane Buzby congratulated the Colonial Beach JV girls’ basketball team, Northern Neck District Champs. Ridgely gave a report on the Volunteer Fire and Rescue. There were 91 calls in September, and calls are up 12 percent in the first nine months of 2010 from last year.