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South Boston officials take oaths / November 27, 2013

South Boston Mayor Ed Owens and Council member Margaret Coleman were sworn into office Monday night at Town Council chambers on Yancey Street.Victors in the November general election, both accepted their oaths from Circuit Judge Joel Cunningham, followed by a congratulatory ceremony attended by friends and neighbors.

Council then convened for a two-hour session featuring two public hearings, neither of which drew any comment from citizens.

The first dealt with the transfer of two lots east of Tabernacle Trail, which the town has acquired as a buffer for the Memorial Gardens Cemetery. Neither of the lots is currently needed for expansion of the cemetery. The two lots total 1.18 acres and are appraised at $37,987.

The Town has discussed the value of the property with the Halifax County Service Authority, which is seeking to mount a new water tower there to serve the northern portion of the Urban Planning Area. Centerville (where Tabernacle Trail is located) is the highest land elevation for the siting of a new tower.

Also, when the HCSA was formed several years ago and all water and sewer assets belonging to the Town of South Boston were transferred to the authority, 15 lots north of Estes Street were included. The HCSA water storage tank there is located on lots 1-4, but lots 5-15 were erroneously transferred to the authority at that time.

A swap of properties — with the HCSA returning lots 5-15, collectively valued at $20,900, to the Town for Tabernacle Trail — the interests of Sozuth Boston residents would beest be served, according to town staff.

South Boston residents comprise some 80 percent of the service authority’s customer base. If the Town is not willing to trade the land on Tabernacle Trail, the HCSA may need to acquire property for a tower in the Centerville area in the future.

Council approved the exchange of properties uanimously.

Members also approved a decision to vacate a 15 foot by 391 foot unopened portion of Oakes Street, north of Estes Road, the subject of the second hearing of the night.

Following the public hearings, Council tackled its committee work, with Finance Director Erle Scott reporting that real estate and personal property tax payments are beginning to roll into the Town treasury following what Scott termed “a rough October” which strained the town’s cash operations.

Scott said on Monday alone, the Town took in more than $100,000 in tax payments. He reported that as of November 15, his office had collected delinquent taxes and accompanying fees in the amount of $157,813.65 — or 127 percent of the amount anticipated from delinquent tax collections.

Finance Committee members also authorized a full Council vote on a staff recommendation to adopt disability insurance from the Virginia Local Government Insurance Association. Council is slated to vote on the matter at the December 9 regular monthly meeting.

That would allow the Town to contract with the Lincoln Group for short and long term disability for all new employees on January 1, 2014 and for all other eligible employees on July 1, 2014. The cost to the Town is estimated to run about $18,500 annually.

Current Issues Committee members were advised that Planning Commission Chairman George Leonard, whose term expires at the end of the year, is not eligible for re-appointment since he has served for three four-year terms.

They were further advised that Beverly Crowder, whose term also expires at the end of December, is eligible for another term and had agreed to serve again. The terms of two other members, vice-chairman Fields Thomas and Harriett Claiborne, have also expired, but it is believed that all will remain on the commission until the Town completes its new zoning ordinance which is being advertised for public hearing on December 19 in a joint session between Council and Town Planners.

Town Manager Ted Daniel gave a lengthy Powerpoint presentation on the proposed zoning ordinance which is currently being advertised in the local newspapers as well as on the Town’s website. Daniel also said nearly 4,000 letters have gone out to Town residents who might be affected by the new zoning regulations.

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