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Public Can Sound Off On $9.3 Million South Boston Budget

South Boston Town Council will hold a public hearing on the proposed $9,813,903 budget for 2010-2011 when it meets tonight at 7 p.m. in council chambers on Yancey Street.

In the proposed budget which features no tax increases, the Landfill Closure Fund is slated to be merged into Public Works, while two positions in the Department of Public Works, currently vacant, are not funded in the proposed budget.

A “post closure maintenance fund” in public works is scheduled to absorb the Landfill Closure Fund, one that also would include professional services, according to South Boston Town Manager Ted Daniel, while another line item for public works engineering would be “zeroed out” and merged into public works administration.

The Public Works Department would continue to make use of contracted services for things such as trash and brush pickup and seasonal work such as leaf collection, Daniel said.

Animal control and tactical team operations would be merged into those of the police department, and Community Development would be deactivated, with one full-time and one part-time position transferred to the Main Street program.

That move alone would save approximately $62,000, Daniel said.

Only two capital projects are included in the FY 2010-2011 budget, including the first phase of the Washington-Coleman Community Center and the first phase of the landfill gas project, and the town is seeking grant assistance in funding both, according to Daniel.

Also tonight, council is expected to discuss the proposed fee and tax listing for 2010-11.

The proposed tax rate is 19 cents per $100 value for real estate and mobiles homes; $2 per $100 value for personal property; 31 cents per $100 value for machinery and tools; 3 percent of sales for meals tax; 5.5 percent of room rate for occupancy tax; and a $30 minimum business license tax.

In other action during tonight’s town council meeting, council is expected to further discuss the Comcast Cable franchise renewal agreement before taking action on approving the agreement.

Comcast Cable franchise negotiations have been ongoing, and last month South Boston Town Council deferred a vote on the agreement, instead adopting a “wait and see” attitude regarding an announcement by Comcast concerning the advent of high definition service and other channel changes in South Boston.

Instead, council approved a substitute motion to consider adoption of the cable franchise agreement at its May meeting.

Tonight’s meeting is almost three weeks after channel changes announced by Comcast were to become effective “on or about April 22,” including high definition service.

The town’s legal counsel and town staff had recommended approval  last month of the franchise agreement, which has been the subject of debate for several months among council members.

Council had cited numerous customer complaints regarding Comcast, including the absence of high definition service and an on-screen channel guide.

In other town business, council is expected to adopt a fair housing resolution and ratify appointments of Dexter Gilliam and Stewart Nelson to new four-year terms on the Halifax County Service Authority.

A citizen comment period will be offered at the conclusion of tonight’s meeting.