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Boydton ponders return of police department
SoVaNow.com / November 21, 2012Despite lingering questions about their ability to balance the town budget and deal with the loss of another revenue source when the Monroe Street jail closes at the end of the year, Boydton Town Council is looking into the possibility of reinstating its recently shuttered police department.
Councilman Thomas C. Coleman, acknowledging that he was not on Council when the decision was made, questioned why the town must rely solely on the Mecklenburg County Sheriff for police support.
The issue resurfaced during a discussion on whether and how to sell the town’s police car. Deputy Clerk Brooks Lenhart shared her view that many citizens around Boydton were in support of reinstating the department. She claimed that the office received comments on a near-daily basis in favor of rehiring a dedicated police officer.
Clerk Shirley Bowen explained that the town still receives grant money, which was once used to cover a portion of the police expenses. She felt these funds could not be used since they were redirected to other budget line items for the 2013 fiscal year in order overcome the loss of nearly one quarter of a million dollars in revenue from the closing of Mecklenburg Correctional Center.
Still, Council asked Bowen to look into whether the town is hitting its targets for reducing spending before it makes a final decision regarding the police car and reopening the department.
In other business, Clifton Barker, director of corporate development and engineering with Aqua Virginia, pitched the idea of Boydton privatizing its wastewater treatment facility.
Aqua Virginia, which is part of Aqua America, has been in the wastewater treatment business for over 120 years. They operate in nearly 165 communities throughout Virginia. Recently they acquired Fox Run Water Company, a 1,600 customer facility that operates only 20 minutes from Boydton, near Bracey.
Barker said his company could not pay much for the town’s assets, but promised something as well as paying off the town’s debt service on the facility. The benefit to the town from this arrangement, said Baker, “would unload the burden of utility management from the town.” At the same time, the company would be in a better position to maintain and upgrade the facility when needed.
Questioning from Council member Bill Coleman brought out the “bad news:” More than likely sewer rates would increase for town residents if Aqua Virginia assumes operation of the site. Coleman said, “I don’t see how you can buy this plant, operate it, and maintain our lines without charging our citizens an outrageous sewer rate.”
Baker responded, “So the good news-bad news is with a publicly regulated company [such as Aqua Virginia] you can only have one rate. So we would have to create a level platform for everyone.” Baker also conceded that he would not guarantee jobs for existing employees at the plant.
Council agreed to hear an additional presentation from Baker in 60-90 days after he has had a chance to review the town’s financial data associated with the operation of the wastewater treatment plant.
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