Thu04242014

Last updateTue, 04 Nov 2014 9pm

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Mayor calls for due process, hearing

Council defers action on real estate tax reduction and noise ordinanceThe October Town Council meeting kicked off with competing resolutions about Mayor Fred Rummage’s access to town hall. Council member Steve Kennedy placed Resolution 50-10 on the agenda, which is a resolution to reaffirm Resolutions 27-09 and 33-09. Those 2009 resolutions prohibit the mayor from maintaining an office in town hall and further directed the town attorney to issue a “No Trespass” notice to Mayor Rummage.  

Rummage, in response to Kennedy’s resolution, placed Resolution 51-10 on the agenda, which would rescind Resolutions 27-09 and 33-09. Rummage spoke to the council and citizens present noting that “When I ran for this office there was a physical office for the mayor. It is very embarrassing to me when I have to meet with people from out of town and citizens; this is not an orthodox manner in which to conduct business.”  

Rummage further said “I was not given legal due process.”  Rummage believes this issue should be heard first before the council’s budget committee. Rummage noted “all the facts were never brought out.”  Rummage stated that he “wants a public hearing” on his request to rescind the resolutions prohibiting him from having an office at town hall or being present at town hall without an appointment.

Kennedy noted his concerns with maintaining “a stable and secure work environment” for town staff and urged council members to deny the mayor’s request. Kennedy further urged council to act upon his resolution.

“Members of council have become concerned and want to act tonight,” Kennedy said.

Council member Sparky Ridgely made a motion to table both Kennedy’s and Rummage’s resolutions and put the issue before the budget committee. Seeber seconded the motion, saying the mayor “deserves due process.”  Council members Steve Kennedy and Karen Payne cast the only nay votes on Ridgely’s motion. The issue of the mayor having an office at town hall will be heard before the budget committee at its November meeting.  Four citizens spoke in support of the mayor having an office.

The Town Council also grappled with and deferred action on Resolution 52-10 proposed by member Gary Seeber to reduce the real estate tax rate by $.02 to $.58 per $100. Seeber noted the tax rate should be reduced by $.02 due to recent higher assessments.  Facing a Nov. 5 deadline to mail biannual tax bills, council agreed to defer action until town attorney Andrea Erard completes a review of applicable law. Once the review is complete, which should happen in 24-48 hours, council will call a special meeting to consider adoption of Resolution 52-10.

Council also failed to act on Ordinance 590, the new noise ordinance that utilizes maximum decibel levels for both residential and commercial noise and replaces the current pay-to-play permit noise ordinance. Member Karen Payne noted “there are minor language changes” that are still needed in the new ordinance and requested that action be “tabled to the next council meeting.”  

Also deferred for further review by council was Resolution 47-10, a public hearing on an application for right-of-way abandonment of an undeveloped extension, approximately 280 feet long by 50 feet wide, of Lawrence Lane.  The Planning Commission recommended denial of the vacation and sale of the property. Seven citizens spoke at the public hearing with six of them urging council to not abandon the town-owned waterfront property.  Two citizens expressed concern with the Planning Commission’s findings that were based on the applicant’s statement that the request was not initiated by him but by members of council who approached him regarding the acquisition of the property. Member Ridgely was the only nay vote to defer consideration until January saying “We’ve tabled everything.”  

Council did, however, unanimously vote to authorize the town manager to make annual parking passes available to out-of-town residents within zip code 22443 (Resolution 46-10). Council also unanimously voted to authorize the town manager to recommend a one-time bonus for town employees (Resolution 48-10). Council also voted to authorize the town manager to enlist the services of small local contractors (Resolution 49-10).

In other matters, School Superintendent Donna Power reported on the replacement of three trailers at the elementary school and requested council to approve vacation of two town-owned rights-of-way to the school board. Power also urged council to take action on a letter sent to council by School Board Chairman Tim Trivett that requested council to match the $50,000 in anticipated funds currently being raised through public support by the school board for a new library.

Westmoreland County Supervisor Larry Roberson reported that funds are available to complete the paving of Santa Maria Avenue.  The council passed a Halloween Safety Proclamation for trick or treating to occur 5¬–8 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 31.  Edna Edmundson representing the Colonial Beach Historical Society and Museum stated they are looking for homes to be featured on the Christmas home tour.

Kathy Flanagan

 

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