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Budget matters dominate Mecklenburg supervisor’s discussion

SoVaNow.com / May 15, 2019
Much of Monday’s meeting of the Mecklenburg County Board of Supervisors was spent updating board members on the activities of various departments and agencies over the past year. Supervisors typically hear from these groups around the time they are considering the budget for the coming fiscal year, which starts July 1.

The public is invited to review and comment on Mecklenburg County’s fiscal year 2020 budget Wednesday, May 15 at 7 p.m. The public hearing will take place in the Board of Supervisors meeting room, 350 Washington Street, Boydton.

Ahead of that meeting, Budget and Finance Committee Chair Gregg Gordon presented an overview of planned spending for the coming fiscal years.

He said the Mecklenburg County School Board had requested an increase of $6,425,922.00 in local funding for the upcoming budget, most of which would be used to increase pay for school personnel and cover the debt service on the new consolidated secondary school complex being built in Baskerville.

County Administrator Wayne Carter explained, during an earlier meeting of the Budget and Finance Committee, that the local increase for the debt service is $2,786,778 for a total debt service of $6,320,402. The total increase for the salary scale adjustments with a 3 percent increase is $2,844,671, of which $2,126,291.00 is from local funding.

The total proposed School Board budget for FY2020 is $55,550,166, of which $23,615,488 is from local county funding. The remaining $31,934,678 is from state, federal and other funding sources.

The county’s general fund budget includes a 5 percent across the board pay increase with some step increases for all non-school county employees.

In addition to large expenditures —up to $83,290,165 — for the consolidated secondary school facility in Baskerville, the budget envisions spending of $1.4 million to improve parking at the Hudgins Court complex on Madison Street in Boydton. Other major items in the FY2020 package are $750,000 for demolition of the Buckhorn Elementary School, $150,000 to remodel the Bruce Library for use by the General Registrar, and $578,000 for the new CAD/RMS for the 911 call center.

The FY 2019/20 budget total is proposed for $218,289,868.00. Supervisors are expected to vote on adoption of the budget on May 22 in a short special called meeting.

In other business on Monday, members backed a motion made by Jim Jennings to provide a $10,000 contribution to Holiday Lake Educational Center in Appomattox County to upgrade permanent cabins at the 75-year old camp site. Every summer Mecklenburg County sends more than 20 4-H kids to camp at Holiday Lake.

Carter said the monies can come from the county’s existing multi-purpose fund.

Supervisors granted an easement to Virginia Electric and Power Company to extend a power line under a highway to a private residence on the west side of the road near the Mt. Pleasant Baptist Church.

They also approved an amendment to the Mecklenburg County zoning ordinance to reduce the size of off-street parking spaces from 10’ by 20’ to 9’ by 18’, and members approved a request by Michael Weeks to rezone five lots he owns on Boxwood Shores Drive in Palmer Springs from R2A to R1.

The new, more restrictive zoning will allow Weeks to reduce the size of the existing lots and will prevent homeowners from keeping horses on the property. Weeks said potential buyers were put off by the large lot sizes, which were about ten acres. He said most people moving to the area are looking for something more manageable. He hoped the new zoning, which allows him to reduce the lot sizes, would bring in new buyers.

Weeks assured Supervisors that he was not subdividing the property to increase the number of lots in the area. Instead the acreage subtracted from the existing lots would be combined to create a new agricultural area for farming.

This zoning change will conform these properties to the zoning for property nearby that fronts on Buggs Island Lake.

Two neighboring property owners expressed opposition to the change, arguing, as stated by Annette Kenney, that the reduction in the size of the lots would attract “lower-end houses” to the area “which would adversely affect the attraction of the location and therefore also the value of the other lots in the subdivision.

Gordon shared his view that such concerns could be addressed in bylaws adopted by the homeowners’ association.

Joseph and Brenda Dickerson were granted a special exception permit to add a second home on the 2.5-acre site on Baskerville Road near Redlawn Road. The Dickerson’s granddaughter would use the home.

County Tourism Coordinator Tina Morgan updated Supervisors on efforts her office is involved with to promote tourism in the area. She said Mecklenburg County received a $10,000 grant from Virginia Tourism Corporation to promote the 50th anniversary of the “Virginia is for Lovers” logo.

The money had to be used to promote one or more events taking place over a 50-day period between June and August. Mecklenburg County’s Fifty Days of Love events will include a Bluegrass concert series in Boydton, a tea party at Backyard Bids in Bracey on the second Sunday of July and August, a cruise-in, concert and car show in South Hill in August, and a party at the pavilion in Chase City.

Morgan said more than 17 sponsors are participating in the events offering discounted pricing, package deals and limited- edition 50 Years of Love products and memorabilia throughout the entire promotion period.

Morgan said she is also working on plans to develop Mecklenburg County into a summer long music festival like what exists in Floyd.

Bondurant Distillery in Chase City was the subject of the latest Moonshiners Whiskey Business show on the Discovery Chanel, according to Morgan, who showed photos of upgrades made to the tasting room by Moonshiner Tim Smith and his team.

She is also developing a mobile app for the Visit Mecklenburg website. It should roll out July 1.

Taylor Clark, Amy Hawkins and Jennifer Bowen, with the local Virginia Cooperative Extension office spoke about the events they’ve focused on for the past several months.

Hawkins, who is the Family and Consumer Sciences agent said she is concentrating on programs that look at the role food can play in the reversal or prevention of diseases, such as diabetes and cancer.

One of the more popular programs addresses balanced living with diabetes.

She continues to work with the schools implementing a garden program and with adults with programs such as “Nourish Your Brain” and “Food Safety for Seniors.” She also offers a water quality class and is one of the few people in the area qualified to train those in the food service industry who need a “safe serve” certificate.

Jennifer Bowen is Mecklenburg County’s 4-H agent. Her work over the past several years has centered around STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) for fourth- and fifth-grade students and economic education for students at every grade level, using programs such as “Real Money Real World and “The Reality Store.”

She also shared news that 4-H member Madison Russell of Baskerville recently qualified for the Virginia rifle shooting team and will represent the state at the national level.

Carter said new rules imposed by the Census Bureau will required growers that hire temporary H-2A visa workers to report the number of such worker workers if they are employed in Mecklenburg County as of April 1 during the census year.

Census officials are also reaching out to the schools for aid with ensuring that all children, regardless of their age are listed on the census report. For some reason, Carter said census officials believe that children who are less than five years of age are under reported.

The census questionnaire is only 11 questions long and can be done online, in person or over the phone.

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