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Boydton asks for help from county

SoVaNow.com / October 16, 2013
Financially-strapped Boydton is asking Mecklenburg County to help fund more than $400,000 in capital and operating needs, from making repairs to the town’s aging water and sewer plant to reopening the town shop.

The Town has struggled to make ends meet ever since the shutdown of Mecklenburg Correctional Center last year, and on Tuesday Boydton Mayor Gerald Wrenn approached members of the Board of Supervisors for help, saying “We have nowhere else to go.”

Among the expenses the Town is asking Mecklenburg County to fund:

rehiring three employees, $105,000

restoring the police department, $67,500

reinstituting trash pickup two times each week, $12,000

paying for sludge removal, $10,000

funding the town’s capital reserve account, $70,000

increasing support of the fire department and lifesaving squad, $60,000

paying for employee uniforms, $5,000

reopening the town shop, $5,500

purchasing new computer software for the town, $50,000.

The supervisors’ budget and finance committee took no action on the request. Instead, Finance Chairman Gregg Gordon asked Wrenn to assemble additional information, including five years of budgets, five years of audits, and an itemized list from Dewberry, the town’s engineering consultant, that identifies repairs and upgrades needed at the water and sewer plant and project costs.

Boydton councilman Bill Coleman agreed to get the requested information together, adding that the purpose of “this meeting was to start a dialogue with you.”

When Mecklenburg Correctional Center closed, the town lost $240,000 in revenue it collected by providing sewer services to the facility. The Town took another hit of $46,000 when the county closed its jail in Boydton, and once Microsoft installed meters to monitor its sewer usage, payments from the company to the Town dropped from $53,340 to around $7,200.

To offset lost revenue, Boydton Town Council has instituted a series of cost-saving and revenue-generating measures. The Town has raised water and sewer rates two times in the last two years, eliminated the police department, closed the town shop, stopped paying for employee uniforms, cut back on trash pickup for residents, eliminated janitorial services at Town Hall and eliminated, through attrition or otherwise, several positions in both the maintenance department and at the water and sewer plant.

Still, Boydton lacks the money needed to maintain its water and sewer infrastructure, say officials.

A sewer grant of $1.5 million, which the town was set to receive, is no longer available, because Boydton cannot show a revenue stream that is sufficient to repay the loan portion of the grant, Wrenn explained. This grant would have more than covered the repairs and upgrades that Dewberry has said are needed at the plant. Five years ago, Dewberry pegged the cost of upgrades at $600,000.

Wrenn believes Boydton could have the $1.5 million sewer grant restored if Mecklenburg County will work with the town.

Wrenn said, “We need a long term solution that will help us financially recover so that we can be self-sufficient once again.” He also asked, on behalf of the town, to be included in future local planning discussions that could offer the town an opportunity to increase its revenue by providing either services.

He told supervisors, “If we can work together, we [the town] feel confident that we can overcome the devastating losses that have hit us.”

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