County Administrator Gives Beach Residents Bad New and Bad News
By Linda Farneth
“Good evening everybody, bad news and bad news.” This is the way Colonial Beach County Supervisor Larry Roberson began his county report for the citizens of Colonial Beach at the town council meeting Wednesday night April 17.
Roberson announced that the Westmoreland County Board of Supervisors decided to impose a 2 cent real estate tax increase. The purpose of this increase is to satisfy State law that requires localities to have a certain percentage of money set aside that is not assigned to any spending.
Westmoreland county purchased land 5 years ago to build a new county high school. The increased taxes will NOT go towards the funding of the new school however it will help to keep cost of borrowing low.
By having this contingency fund the County will ensure they get the low interest rate of 4.25% on the loans they are seeking to fund the forty-million dollar new high school project, Roberson told the citizens.
Roberson took the opportunity to update the town and council on some of the building plans and activities. He said, “I never realized how much it cost to put a road in. It's going to cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to put an entrance into the school off of route 3.”
He also said when the proposed plans for the new school came out they featured a lot of glass, after several mandated reviews the school plans look quite different with little glass.
However Roberson discussed creative financing that has help cut costs for the new school. For example all of the fields excluding the football field will not belong to the school but the school will have priority over using them. The soccer, baseball and softball fields will belong to the Westmoreland County Recreation Department. County Administrator Norm Risavi planned it that way to allow the county to save money on the design of the new school. Grant money paid for most of the fields.
The County will hold a public hearing on April 22 to vote on the FY 2019-2020 county budget which includes the increase of real estate taxes [not allocated for school use] from 41 cents to 43 cents per every 100 dollars of value. Public utilities tax will also be raised by two cents.
The meeting will be held at the George D. English Building Board Room, 111 Polk Street, Montross. Below is a link to the advertised-proposed county budget or you can download the attached document.
The second bit of bad news Roberson shared at Wednesday's town council meeting involves event police protection. Roberson said the Sheriff's Department was $37,000.00 over budget in overtime because of events. Events such as those held at the Colonial Beach Drag Strip on 205, the Fall Festival, the Montross Festival and other events, are responsible for these overtime hours.
Roberson said, “The suggestion was made that the Sheriff's Department charge people for having these events.” He said the Sheriff's Department is not in favor of charging, however some of the supervisors are trying to push for it, Roberson said he suggested during the Supervisor's meeting, “If the county is going to raise taxes take some of that and set it aside for overtime.”
Roberson asked Colonial Beach citizens to attend the Monday County Supervisor's meeting and express their opinions.
Roberson said, “We did get it moved, they were going to start it this summer but there are a number of events already scheduled, so it got moved to January when there isn't a whole lot going on.”
“I just think it's wrong because you're really only penalizing the only two towns in Westmoreland county, Colonial Beach and Montross.”
Everybody goes to these festivals, Roberson said. He added that some events may have to cancel due to lack of funds. He also said, if the Sheriff's Departments start charging the State Police will follow suit especially on some of the bigger events. “So it'll be a snowball effect. It would be a shame if that happened.”
Again, the meeting will be held on Monday April 22 at the George D. English Building Board Room, 111 Polk Street, Montross, beginning at 6 p.m. Attendees wishing to speak at the meeting should sign up on the sheet as you enter the room. If you wish to speak on the proposed tax increase sign up to speak during the budget public hearing. To speak on the matter of the sheriff's department charging for events sign up to speak during public comment.