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CARES money goes to buy safer trash truck, cans / October 01, 2020

The Town of South Boston is using $1.3 million in federal CARES Act money to purchase a range of items to protect employees and upgrade town services in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The list of purchases was presented to members of South Boston Town Council as the Current Issues and Finance committees convened Monday at the Washington Coleman Community Center.

The $2.2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act has enabled South Boston to purchase a “touchless” track truck, among other items. Town Manager Tom Raab presented a slideshow on how the new garbage truck, equipped with an automated side loader, operates.

“The operator never touches the trash can,” said Raab, adding the machine does the work.

The town has also purchased 2,500 rubbish bins that will each hold 64 gallons of waste. Collectively, the bins cost $100,000 and come with a ten-year warranty. The garbage truck cost $199,269. All of the purchases are designed to help eliminate the spread of the coronavirus.

The Town received $1,328,250.18 in CARES funding. With the purchases made so far, the Town has $214,102.18 on hand to spend on anything related to COVID-19.

Questions were raised by Council members on who owns the trash can if the property owner moves from their home.

“The cans belong to the town,” said C.W. Crowder, director of public works. Each trash can has a serial number that will be coded to the residence when the trash can is delivered.

The Department of Public Works is fine-tuning the details of dispersing the cans throughout town.

“Getting the route set up is intense and takes a lot of work,” said Crowder. “We are about six to eight weeks out on receiving the trash cans due to every municipality is going this way— we are a little late,” he added.

The cans should alleviate the problem of trash bags that are left too long on the curbside and get ripped or torn up by hungry animals. “The new garbage containers will really help clean up the town,” said Crowder.

The Department of Public Works yard will also be receiving two automated gates. Employees will wave a key card for contactless entry. The gates cost $38,761.

The Town of South Boston purchased a brush truck earlier in the year, costing $119,000, which the town is seeking reimbursement for.

In addition to Public Works, the South Boston Police Department will receive 10 computers which issue E-tickets. This will eliminate a lot of time, paperwork, and reduce the number of court appearances for minimal infractions. The total cost for 10 E-ticket machines is $132,798.

“We approached the General District Court about this option 13 years ago, but they were not set up then to handle the technology,” said Captain Dennis Barker. Mandates are coming in the future requiring localities to have E-Ticket technology.

Many facilities in the town will receive upgrades and touchless fixture, faucets and toilets including Town Hall, South Boston Library, the Recreation Center (Old Armory), and Public Works. Facility updates cost $166,643.

Technology upgrades for Town Council to host online meetings and new computers cost $67,202.

The drop box on Ferry Street is open again for town tax payments. Payments may also be made online for a small fee. The drop box was previously closed due to people dropping off their payments for their water bill after the Halifax County Service Authority opened in the Houghton Industrial Park. The cost for the drop box, security camera, and envelopes cost $1,850.

“The drop box is built into the building and very safe,” said Director of Finance Mickey Wilkerson. “I encourage people to use the box who do not want to come in the office or pay online.”

To help small businesses, $138,500 in CARES money will go to fund stimulus grants.

Lastly, $150,000 has been spent on Personal Protection Equipment. “We bought enough to stock up for 2021,” said Raab.

In other business, Current Issues Committee Chairman Bob Hughes proposed an amendment to the town code to permit electronic skill games to be heard by the Planning Commission in a public hearing on Wednesday night. Also addressed where appointments to the Halifax County South Boston Transportation Safety Committee. Current members include Cutis Waskey, who has agreed to continue serving.

As for the intentions of other two members, Charles Newby and Steve Meadows, “I am waiting to hear back from them,” said Rabb.

One other financial item on the agenda addressed the costs of changing Main Street from a one-way route to two-way traffic. Raab proposed that the item be included on the agenda for the next regular council meeting, which will be held a week ahead of schedule due to Columbus Day. Town Council will meet Oct. 5 at 7 p.m. at the Washington Coleman Community Center.

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