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Solar lawsuit clears hurdle, to be heard

Summertime marks return of Prizery musical theatre

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South Boston panel calls for more funds for YMCA, HEA, Prizery / May 06, 2013
The Town of South Boston is recommending that three agencies receive a bump in funding with the new budget that begins in July.

Town Council’s finance committee, meeting last week for its monthly work session, heard a recommendation from town staff for a $10,000 contribution to the YMCA, up from the current year’s $6,000.

The administration also called for a funding boost for the Halifax Education Foundation to $104,000, up from this year’s $50,000.

Another $20,000 is being recommended for The Prizery, which received no funds from the town in the current budget year.

Two areas were recommended for funding reductions — the Main Street program, which would see its allocation drop from this year’s sum of $93,453 to $73,460 next year. Also, the town’s contribution to community sports would be reduced to $10,000 from the current year’s $13,352.

All of the changes are reflected in the town 2014 fiscal year budget of $9,765,854, down almost $2 million from the current year’s budget of $11,662,882.

The proposed budget includes no tax increases, no fee hikes and no salary increases for employees.

The new fiscal year starts July 1, 2013.

Committee members first heard from the president and vice president of The Prizery board, Barbara Speece and Boo Evans, respectively, who thanked Council for including the $20,000 request in the upcoming year’s budget.

Speece noted the Prizery has been able to pay off its historic tax credits this year, and by the beginning of the next fiscal year, the board will have clear title to its facility.

The Prizery has now reorganized and developed a business plan which includes more consistency in rental rates charged for use of the banquet hall and other parts of the facility, she said.

Evans advised that it costs an average of $667 per day to operate the facility, and ticket sales for various events do not cover the cost of salaries, electric bills or maintenance of the facility. But local businesses and industries have contributed some $50,000 to help defray the expense of the Summer Theater programs, and nearly $10,000 in donations from individuals has helped to cover expenses.

Tamyra Vest also thanked Council members for their support of the Main Street Program, which last year took over the staging of the Christmas parade. She said the Main Street Program has been able to make ends meet by charging initial entry fees. Now she is concerned about the annual September Harvest Fest, which last year the town helped to fund.

Vest said entertainment was simplified and all but one of the entertainment stages were eliminated last year, but at the end of the day, the festival was in the hole after town employees were paid for clean-up.

In order to stage such events, Vest asked that the town become an in-kind sponsor by paying some of the employee costs.

Vest pointed out that much of her time as Main Street Manager is spent helping to bring about the transformation of the New Brick Warehouse into residential units downtown. She also said she is excited about working on the transition of the old John Randolph Hotel into a modern boutique hotel.

Tourism Director Linda Shepperd, who also addressed the budget panel, reported that her department continues to grow. The Visitors Center on U.S. 58 hosted more than 8,000 visitors over the past year from 49 states — no one from North Dakota has yet visited, she added.

With herself and four part-time employees, the center is open seven days a week, she said, and she noted it is their business to attract people to festivals and activities going on around the county.

Library Director Joe Zappacosta also thanked the town for its support over the years. He presented information about the library’s strategic plan for the next three years, which includes discovering the needs of the community and stabilizing the library’s financial future while realizing that state funding is likely to continue to be cut.

The strategic plan also calls for a fund drive, from which the library received some $10,000 this year. It also strives to make people more aware of what the library has to offer. Zappacosta said he wants his staff to be prepared to meet the needs of clients and to provide the best possible customer service.

Town Finance Director Erle Scott reported to the committee that his office has collected a total of $18,838.26 in delinquent taxes on 128 parcels over the past two months, after having sent out approximately 350 delinquent notices in early March. Of that amount, payment was made on 105 parcels which was due in December of 2012.

The Current Issues Committee met following the finance panel session and reviewed plans for a public hearing set for their May 13 meeting on a request from Troy Comer for a special use permit to operate a vehicle repair establishment at 1019 Wilborn Avenue.

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