By Linda Farneth
In part 1 we looked at the real estate values of residential improved lots in Colonial Beach, we also took a brief look at how every tax dollar is split to pay for various services that are available to all residents of Westmoreland County.
In part 2 we will look at two big county expenses that benefit all residents of Westmoreland county including Colonial Beach.
Garbage transfer and county passes for transfer station
Although we do not pay a particular amount for trash removal service in Colonial Beach as we do for water and sewer our tax dollars in the town cover the expense of trash collection within the town.
However all that trash has to go somewhere. The county is in charge of disposal and management of waste so as part of our services from the county, waste management is part of what we pay county taxes for.
Colonial Beach waste made up 12% of the 13,936.13 tons of waste collected by Westmoreland County in 2017. The disposal of the waste collected from Colonial Beach has cost the county $115,617.13. This is down from 13% in 2016 and 15% in 2015, which cost the county $115,072.42 and $121,246.01 respectively.
This figure only includes waste collected by town trucks and waste dropped off at the transfer station just outside of town which is transferred to the county transfer station. It does not include residents who bring refuse to the county transfer station or construction materials hauled by private companies.
Risavi estimates 40% of the traffic at the county site is from the residents of Colonial Beach. This is not surprising when you realize that the roughly 4-square-miles that is Colonial Beach, contains one fifth the population of Westmoreland County, making it the most densely populated area in the county.
The county provides decals that can be hung from your mirror to help the county identify county residents when visiting the transfer station. Risavi said there is a problem with other counties bringing refuse to our transfer stations.
Although a Colonial Beach Town sticker is accepted the county workers find it easier to see the red county tag that anyone can obtain free at the county offices with proof that you are a Westmoreland County tax payer.
County Funded Emergency Services:
Rescue recovery costs have increased dramatically from fiscal year 2009-2010 from $491,172.48 to $2.1 million in fiscal year 2016-2017 to 2.0 million in fiscal year 2017-2018, since volunteerism has declined and the county mans 3 stations with paid staff, 24 hours a day.
Risavi said, “We've had to buy 3 new ambulances and increase staff dramatically.”
Recently the county was providing one paid crew for the Colonial Beach Volunteer Rescue Squad (Rescue Station One) but when construction of the rescue squad building at Oak Grove was complete that paid staff was moved to Oak Grove.
Currently only volunteers man Rescue Squad One with Pat Fitzgerald running a large portion of those calls. Risavi said when Pat has been ill or unable to run calls the county squads have often had to run calls.
Risavi said the Supervisors have been looking to the future anticipating putting on a fourth paid crew for the County. Risavi also said Westmoreland County pays the highest salary for Paramedics in the Northern Neck.
Risavi said due to the required training and certifications needed, the county is finding it harder and harder to find people to work.
The Emergency Medical Personnel currently working for the County are being required to work overtime, this not only is difficult for the members but it is more costly to pay overtime than to hire part time personnel.
Westmoreland County has a high number of elderly population making the call load more. The fact that the closest hospitals are in Fredericksburg or Warsaw make each run longer. This ties up emergency personnel driving to and from hospitals. Any time not spent with a patient costs valuable resources.
Risavi also added that medical reimbursements usually severely undercut the cost of transportation of patients.
Risavi said Rescue Station 2 at the opposite end of the County has only 6 volunteer members and they have not responded to a call in almost 2 ½ years.
Supervisor Larry Roberson said, “Remember this is just the rescue squads, we are very very fortunate we have not had to staff paid crews for the fire departments, but it's coming.”
Mayor Eddie Blunt said, one of the bigger issues, is that the county has to reach out to the other counties to work to bring in a hospital closer than Fredericksburg or Warsaw.
Risavi said that the hospitals will not invest in an area that does not guaranty enough patients to sustain the cost of running the facility.
Unfortunately the lack of a facility close by deters new home buyers.
Blunt feels we need to keep pushing for a facility. “A lot of people won't move to this area because they are afraid they will not have the emergency services needed.”
There is really no one service offered by the County that only benefits Colonial Beach. Although all the tax money collected from Colonial Beach Residents by the county to fund schools has been eliminated from residents county tax bills, residents still pay that amount to town. The town now collects the county portion of taxes that would otherwise go into the County school system if Colonial Beach did not have their own schools.
We will explore school funding in our final article on the Westmoreland County Budget.
Colonial Beach News