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South Hill firefighters granted go-ahead on truck sale

SoVaNow.com / August 11, 2021
On Monday, South Hill Town Council authorized the South Hill Volunteer Fire Department to move forward with the sale of an aging support vehicle.

Town Manager Kim Callis said the proceeds from the sale would be used to pay off the remaining debt on another fire truck, Engine 73.

Callis said with the exception of an existing ladder truck, the fire department has taken on the financial obligations for its equipment, borrowing money as needed to pay for new engines. The Town of South Hill and Mecklenburg County have in the past provided some financial support. Once the loans are paid off, the fire engines become the property of the town.

Previously, vehicles that needed to be replaced have been sold off and the proceeds used to pay off existing debt service on other vehicles. The SHVFD is now looking to replace its 2005 model Support 70 vehicle that has become obsolete with a new support vehicle. That purchase will take place in October 2022.

The new vehicle will provide greater support capability in several ways, including on-site air compressors and better extrication equipment, according to Callis.

Once the debt is retired on Engine 73, the fire department would then obtain a new loan for $1.1 million to purchase the new support vehicle.

Callis explained that because the fire department is anticipating that prices for fire engine materials and components will increase by 4 to 5 percent, they would like to begin the purchase process for the new support vehicle before the end of the month. It will take the better part of a year before the department will take possession of the vehicle and begin paying on its loan.

Council agreed to the sale of the old vehicle without objection.

Council members also agreed to issue a general obligation bond in the amount of $10,937,000 to pay for water, wastewater and infrastructure improvements around town.

The work includes improvements to the Thompson Street/Alpine Road water line, the northeast sewer collection system, the Highway 1 North sewer extension and Alpine Road pump station, and the replacement of water read systems and construction of an additional public works building. The bond also will be used to refinance the Town’s water, wastewater and storm facilities refunding bond, Series 2010, in the amount of $1,995,000. The bond will be for 10 years and carry an interest rate of 1.45 percent.

Callis thanked Finance Director Sheila Cuttrell and Operations Director CJ Dean for their work “putting this [funding] package together.”

Administrative costs and other fees will be tacked onto bills of those whose delinquent taxes are sent for collection.

Council member Gavin Honeycutt asked what the change would cost the town. Cuttrell said there is no additional cost if South Hill uses one particular vendor recommended by Cuttrell, TACS. A 20 percent administrative fee would added to the customers’ tax bills and that would cover the collection costs.

Joseph Taylor abstained from voting on the matter but gave no reason.

Council also agreed to rezone property located between Plank Road and Halifax Street from single-family residential district R1-10 to general residential district R2-16. The property is owned by FRP1, LLC. No reason was given for the rezoning request.

A request by South Hill Fire Chief Michael Vaughan to hold a bucket drive on Saturday, Sept. 4 from 7 a.m.-2 p.m. was approved without objection. Donations will be accepted at six locations around town:

North Mecklenburg Avenue near the E-Z Stop

East Atlantic Street near Farrar Auction and Realty

West Atlantic Street by Food Lion

West Danville Street at the Slip In convenience store and gas station

Shaw Street at the Walmart

At the Slip In convenience store near the intersection of Peebles and Furr Streets.

The General Assembly passed legislation requiring all local elections to take place on the November general election date. The new law takes effect Jan. 1.

South Hill’s town charter currently fixes the voting date for mayor and Council elections in May. Callis said that while state law supersedes the town charter, he believes for clarity, it is best to amend the town charter language conforms to the new law.

Even though legislation dictates this change, Callis said Charter amendments must still be approved by the General Assembly.

A public hearing must take place before Council can approve sending the amendment language to the General Assembly. That will take place at the next regularly scheduled meeting of the town council in September.

Callis said the town was recently surprised when Virginia Department of Transportation officials announced their wish that the town allow work to begin on the Highway 58 Bypass Arterial Project, specifically improvements at the E. Atlantic Street/Country Lane intersection. The project will change the alignment at the intersection. “There will be no more straight across to Country Lane,” said Callis.

Callis said work on this project was not expected to begin until FY25 or FY26 and cost the town around $3 million. “The estimated cost of this phase is now $5,757,611, of which $575,761 would be paid by the town as part of our $3 million commitment. This estimate has increased from a high end estimate of $3,046,850 in June 2019,” said Callis.

Council’s budget and finance committee discussed this project on July 27. “As prices will continue to increase and we have the ability to pay the town share, the Committee recommends proceeding with the project,” Callis said.

At this time, the town does not need to appropriate funds but must enter into an agreement with VDOT indicating South Hill’s commitment to fund $575,761, 10 percent of the expected cost for Phase I.

Phase II calls for the installation of a round-about at the eastern entrance to the town and the third phase is going to be a redesign of the I-85 interchange. The total cost for all three phases is currently estimated at a range of $15,975,000 to $37,450,000.

“The cost range is primarily due to the various methods that could be used for the I-85 interchange improvements,” Callis explained.

Council member Ben Taylor said, “Even though we may do this, [work] will begin in 2022.”

A hearing will take place at the regular monthly Council meeting on Sept. 13 to hear public comments on the proposed use by the town of $4,512,160 in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds.

$1.4 million will be used to offset the additional cost of the Northeast sewer project and the rest of the funds will go toward water infrastructure redundancy.

To date the town has received the first round of funding in the amount of $2,256,080.

Parker Oil was awarded the annual fuel contract for the Town of South Hill as follows:

For the fleet:

Gasoline — $0.035, up $0.010 from last year

Ultra Low Sulfur Diesel — $0.035, up $0.010 from last year

Delivered fuel:

Gasoline — $0.08, up $0.02 from last year

Low Sulfur Diesel — $0.09, up $0.02 from last year

The prices are what are known as the “rack price,” which is the price at which refineries sell fuel to their customers. The rack price can include transportation, overhead and profit to the “spot” price. The fuel spot price is the price that fuel is worth as dictated by the market.

Callis was re-named as the South Hill representative on the board of directors of the Lake Country Development Corporation. If his appointment is approved by the LCDC board, his term will run for two years from Oct. 1, 2021 to Sept. 30, 2023.

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