- Last Updated on Wednesday, 03 March 2010 19:58
- Published on Wednesday, 03 March 2010 19:58
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Public work committee meeting
The public works committee meeting began with a discussion concerning the expense of snow removal for this year’s snowstorms.
Public Works Director Rob Murphy reported that the time spent on snow removal included 80 hours of overtime and totaled 100 hours including regular hours.
“We incurred calls for two new replacement plows; about $10,000 in plows and a little more in repairs. The total cost was over $15,000,” Murphy said/
He reported that Public Works changed the way it performed snow removal by cutting shifts back to six hours and using smaller plows.
“This was more successful for the narrow streets especially where cars where lined up on the side of the road,” Murphy said.
The decision to use smaller plows came after two separate mishaps caused larger plows to be stuck and required a combined cost of $1,000 to get them free.
Murphy explained that 85 percent of the roads in Colonial Beach are VDOT’s responsibility, but VDOT’s procedure is to plow primary roads first and then plow secondary roads. In Colonial Beach the only primary roads VDOT are Colonial Avenue and Washington Avenue.
The town has been coming in and plowing all the secondary roads before VDOT comes back and in the process the town maintains the plowing on the primary roads in order to maintain access to the rest of the roads rather than relying on VDOT.
Town Manager Val Folds said that last year the town allocated $11,000 for weather contingency. This was to cover not only snow removal but clearing branches and other damage that may come with summer and fall storms.
The budget committee meeting began with School Superintendent Donna Power presenting the school’s next year budget based on the new composite index of .3785.
The local composite index is based on adjusted gross income, retail sales and the true value of real property.
Power explained that the new composite index raises the amount of funds the state is obligated to provide and at the same time lowers the funds the town is obligated to provide.
After presenting a brief description of the budget and a list of possible cuts, Power asked for appropriations for federal grants.
She presented a list of federal grants to the council, explaining that the more federal grant money is used the more localities can save on their obligations to the school.
However, federal money must be spent first before the school can request reimbursement. In short, the council must approve federal grant money that the school seeks since the town will be expected to put forth the money first. Once the money is spent, the school system gives written account (for all grant money spent) to the federal government. Then the money is reimbursed to the town and must go into the town’s budget, not the school’s.
“Federal grant money that is awarded usually covers a 27-month period,” Power explained. “When you hear the words ‘carry over,’ we usually erase them from our vocabulary. Because it is not carry over, it is an awarded amount of money and sometimes projects that you use the money for can’t all be spent in one year.”
Chairman Ronald Sparky Ridgely said: “We’re going to take your request under advisement and study it before next council meeting.” Ridgely could not promise if there would be any definitive answer.
Financial Officer Joan Grant reported that cigarette tax is projected to be down $100,000.
Meals and lodging taxes are also down; receipts are coming in lower and later.
The communication tax is up about $20,000 and everything else is basically on target according to Joan Grant.
“Real estate taxes are running solid at the moment, but I am finding that more people are going into bankruptcy,” Grant reported. “I probably have more homes in delinquent taxes this year than I have in the six years I have been here.”
At the Public Safety Committee meeting, Police Chief Christopher Hawkins announced that a grant written by Captain Bill Seay for $5,300 was approved. The stimulus money will replace leather gun holsters for the town’s officers.
On March 11, the Virginia Law Enforcement Professional Standards Commission Board of Directors will sit at the state capitol to decide which agencies will be accredited. Three agencies are going up for initial accreditation and Colonial Beach is one of them. After the team leader who inspected the town gives a presentation, the board will vote.
Chief Hawkins is confident they will walk out with their accreditation certificate; since the inspection last month the police department has been notified that it has met all standards required for accreditations. Now the board has to vote on it.
This event will be unique; this will be the first time the Secretary of Public Safety and the Deputy Director of Public Safety have attended one of these events.
An official public presentation to the town council is expected in April.
Accreditation means the Colonial Beach Police Department can expect a 5 percent reduction on insurance through VML, effective July 1. It also means the town’s policies have been tested by the accreditation team so it gives Colonial Beach a better standing should there be any lawsuits.
Out of more than 400 agencies in the commonwealth, only 79 have been accredited and Colonial Beach will become No. 80. Furthermore, there are only four towns in the state to become accredited and Colonial Beach will be the fifth.
Hawkins thanked the fire department for giving up space to the police department to allow them to conduct their inspections.
Hawkins said his men were so proud to learn they were going to get their accreditation that some eyes even teared up. Some agencies have been working since 2005 and haven’t accomplished what Colonial Beach has in 21 months.
The accreditation team told Hawkins that this was the first time they had ever had representatives of the council, town mayor or a town manager come to the events and support a department during the events leading up to accreditation.
Re-certification will be required in 2014, but the accreditation team can call for documentation at any time between now and then, keeping the Colonial Beach Police Department officials on their toes.