Mon09222014

Last updateThu, 19 Nov 2015 8pm

   20140901MetroCastweb

Citizen input does make a difference

Beach council passes cost-of-living increase
Each month citizens are given three minutes to express their concerns to the Colonial Beach town council during council’s regular meetings.   It is an opportunity for citizens to promote ideas, express concerns and advise council members of their vision for the town.  Because of council policy not to answer questions posed by citizens or engage in a dialogue with citizens, many are left wondering if their remarks make a difference.
At several recent council meetings, citizen input proved to be a valuable resource exemplifying a working partnership with council members who are tasked to set policy and laws for the town.   During December’s council meeting, when bonuses for town

employees were on the agenda, several citizens spoke both for and against the issue of providing annual bonuses during these tough economic times.  A resolution that was before the council to provide a legal precedent for the giving of bonuses was expected to pass based on council members’ comments.  
However, local resident Wanda Goforth recommended a small change in the wording of the resolution that was about to be voted on — changing the word “shall” to “may” and thereby giving council the authority to grant bonuses, but without creating an actual mandate to grant bonuses.  Based on Goforth’s recommendations, council passed the resolution with the word change, creating a more flexible and balanced precedent for the future.   
Again, at February’s council meeting, a resolution was on the agenda authorizing the town manager and town attorney to proceed with the abandonment and sale of town-owned property on Lawrence Lane. The issue of town-owned property being sold has brought out much citizen comment, both for and against.  Both council and the Economic Development Committee had previously agreed to defer making a decision on the Lawrence Lane property for three months.   
During citizen comment, Goforth again spoke out reminding council of their previous decision to defer consideration of the sale for three months.   Council members then reviewed past minutes and agreed with Goforth to table the motion for the Resolution 47-10 until March, thereby allowing citizens who wish to speak on the issue the opportunity to be present at the March meeting.

Chamber funding
Another hot topic during citizen comment time at the February meeting was concerns by several citizens on council’s position to do away with a yearly stipend of $4,000 to the Colonial Beach Chamber of Commerce.  Dr. Peter Fahrney expressed his concern that it would be “a mistake to remove support of the beach Chamber” and encouraged the council to continue a dialogue with the Chamber.  Beach resident Jay Jarvis agreed, noting he supported “restoration of funding for the Chamber” and that council members had given an appearance of “little or no support — almost adversarial” to the Chamber.   
Council member and Water and Sewer Committee chair Gary Seeber revisited his previous request that council address repair of the sewer and water pipes between 3rd Street and 12th Street, which are in dire need of repair and replacement.  Seeber has scheduled a presentation to the public by the Virginia Rural Water Association on Feb. 28 at 1 p.m. at Town Center.  Seeber indicated the town would need “to raise the sewer rate by $5 per quarter” to help fund the needed repairs.
Council unanimously passed Resolution 06-11, which will provide cost-of-living raises to town employees retroactive to Jan. 1, 2011, in an amount not to exceed 3 percent annually.  The cost to fund the raises, $65,926, had been previously budgeted for personnel reorganization and reassignment.
Council also unanimously approved Resolution 07-11, which donates $413.50 to the Colonial Beach School Board to cover zoning fees paid in connection with the school’s new modpod.
Council also unanimously approved Resolution 08-11, which authorizes School Superintendent Donna Power to prepare a Victim Rights Impact Statement to be provided to Westmoreland County Circuit Court regarding the embezzlement of funds from Beach schools by Barbara Worrell.  Worrel is scheduled to be sentenced Friday, Feb. 18.  Power noted that approximate losses sustained by the school division due to Worrell’s embezzlement are “somewhere from $345,000 to $350,000.”    

Kathy Flanagan


 

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