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South Boston council tinkers with proposed budget / May 01, 2014

South Boston Council members on Monday evening suggested several changes to the town’s proposed 2014-15 budget for the coming year after hearing from agency heads and departments at their last meeting.

Finance Chairman Coleman Speece said his committee is recommending that the town not provide funds for the United Way, a new request that was made this year.

He explained that the $5,000 request made by UW Director Jewel Medley had not been made in previous years and the committee felt that funds given to the UW would only reduce the amount the town was able to give to some of the organizations which also seek help from the UW.

The committee, after a lot of thought, decided to recommend that the town increase its contribution to the HART bus system operated by the Lake Country Area Agency on Aging to $28,155, also adding a one time contribution of $2,498 to help with the purchase of a replacement bus, bringing their total allocation to $30,653.

Part of the increased funds would be used for operating costs since the service is expected to be expanded by adding an extra hour of service each day, starting at 7:30 a.m.

The committee also recommended that a second part-time position be funded for the Washington Coleman Community Center, bringing to two the number of part time employees there at a cost of $16,668.

Also recommended was the expansion of the Police Vehicle Lease Replacement Program to allow for the acquisition of ten replacement vehicles during the coming year.

Several items in the budget were reduced with the $250,000 earmarked for storm water improvements reduced to $80,000 and the support service repairs for building and equipment cut by $23,400.
The Town Manager pointed out that the Town currently has major storm water problems at three locations — near the intersection of Seymour and Riley Streets near the Bright Leaf Forum, in front of Halifax County Middle School and at the intersection of Easley and Terry Streets, near John’s Amoco. He estimated the cost of resolving those problems to total about $200,000, money which is included in the current year’s budget. He said it is necessary to move forward with the work in order to prevent damages to those streets where the problems exist.

After that work, which is currently under way, is completed Daniel said he felt the $80,000 allocation for the coming year should be sufficient, but if not, Council would have to revisit the issue and do what had to be done to correct any problems that might arise.

The Town Manger explained that a recent master plan done by B& B Consultants of storm water problems lists 12 priorities which could cost over $900,000 to correct during the next several years. He recommended that the Town make preparations to secure VDOT revenue sharing funds to help pay for those future projects.

Current Issues Committee members made quick work of their agenda items recommending that a May 12 public hearing be held on the Planning Commission’s suggestion to amend the Town’s Chapter 114 Zoning to include a new B-4 Downtown Business Expansion District which would include all lots formerly zoned M-1 General Industrial bounded by Seymour Drive on the north; the B-2 General Business District on the east; Southern Railway on the south and the B-3 Central Business District on the west. That move would allow the area to add light industrial uses as a permitted use within a General Business district.

The Planners recommendation also calls for Chapter 114 to include off street parking requirements for group home uses and the rezoning of two parcels fronting on 530 Railroad Avenue from the Dan River District to M-1 General Industrial District as requested by Morgan Miller.

Two other requests were also recommended for approval by the Planners — the rezoning of a 15.93 acre parcel west of Edgehill Lane and south of Oak Lane from B1 Neighborhood Business District to PD-E1 Planned Development-Educational and Institutional District as requested by Lucien W. and Virginia H. Roberts.

The other request, this from South Boston Church of God, sought to have nine parcels of some 23 acres rezoned from R-AG Rural Residential Agriculture and R-1 Low Density Residential districts to a B-2 General Business district,

The Current Issues Committee also recommended that the Town look seriously at accepting an offer from Halifax County to convey the C. H. Friend athletic field to South Boston. Daniel explained that the County has owned the property since the former C. H. Friend Elementary School was closed and the building and land returned to the county.

The building was later sold, but the county retained the ball field property.

Now the Town Recreation Department and the South Boston Dixie Majors baseball league use the field, but the County Rec department does not. South Boston has maintained the property over the past years so it made sense for the Town to own it, Daniel said.

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