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Halifax Council meets Tuesday

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Halifax faces minor budget shortfall / May 16, 2019
Halifax Town Council held their monthly meeting on Tuesday evening, updating the public on multiple ongoing projects and discussing the upcoming year’s preliminary budget. Council members also approved a new insurance option for town employees.

Mayor Dexter Gilliam brought the Council work session to order at 6:30 p.m. and introduced the director of the Halifax/South Boston Library, Jay Stephens.

Stephens, after addressing South Boston’s Town Council the night before, presented to the Council two awards that were granted to the library due to their community events and clubs. He thanked the Council for their support and funding over the years.

The library received the Outstanding Young Adult Program and Outstanding Cooperative Program Awards. The awards are a result of their successful teen coding and technology program, as well as a recent event with author Beth Macy, which highlighted the opioid epidemic in the area with a discussion of her book “Dopesick.”

Councilman Michael Trent, Chairman of the Business Development Committee, then updated the Council on the success of last month’s Earth Day Extravaganza.

He praised Denise Barksdale, assistant town manager, for her hand in the event that garnered over $3,000 in monetary sponsorship from seven local businesses and one anonymous donor. The event received mainly positive feedback from the community, as well as the Council — although Barksdale noted in her event report than parking and volunteers would be focal points for next year.

Trent then moved on to the “Here’s Halifax” event taking place on May 29 at Halifax Town Hall. He implored the community to stop by the event and share their “vision for the future of a vibrant Halifax.”

The event, held 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., will be led in-part by Sandra Tanner, Virginia Tourism Partnership Marking Development Specialist.

Another community-based event coming up is the Halifax County Chamber of Commerce Community Strategic Plan “Roll Out.” This comes after a presentation given during the South Boston and Halifax joint council meeting held last month, which laid out a brief overview of their plan for the community.

The “Roll Out” will be held May 22 at The Prizery and, according to Town Manager Carl Espy, will be more detail-oriented than a previous presentation.

Espy then moved on to April’s finance report, taking over for Chairman Bill Covington, who was absent Tuesday. “Revenues are a little bit ahead of where we’d expect to be,” Espy said, with little else to note on the status of the report.

Council then reviewed the preliminary draft of the town’s 2019-20 budget, noting a projected $12,363 shortfall in money to cover expenses.

In the committee’s report, it will be considered to recommend a reduction in several departments in order to eliminate the shortfall. These reductions will potentially come from the administration, business development, municipal building, and streets funds.

The next budget work session will be held on May 23 at 10:30 a.m. in the conference room of Halifax Town Hall.

Councilman S.J. Dunavant Jr. led the Current Affairs Committee in place of Chairman Bill Confroy, also absent, and addressed the VDOT Smart Scale Project.

The project would increase the turn radius at Mountain Road and Main Street, and, according to Espy, will be moving up in schedule. Despite the thought that it would be done near 2026, Espy assured that the project would be done by 2020 to 2021.

Espy also updated Council members on the Dollar General landscaping issue that had been brought up at last month’s meeting, assuring that the company has since made strides to fix the issues. He also pointed out language in the Code for this issue which enforced certain regulations on maintaining the area outside of the building.

The meeting ended with the Council’s approval on the Virginia Retirement System Voluntary Group Long Term Care Insurance policy. This approval allows employees of the Commonwealth to decide for themselves if they would like to utilize this new policy, with no cost to the Council. The decision comes after Gilliam pointed out that multiple employees had expressed interest in the new policy.

Council is set to have their next meeting on June 11 at Halifax Town Hall.

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