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SoBo budget: Some agencies want more, others satisfied

A number of agencies currently receiving funding from the Town of South Boston asked for additional funding in 2014-15, during South Boston Town Council’s meeting on Monday, while several others seemed satisfied with their current funding level.

The Lake Country Area on Aging is requesting $24,213 in local matching funds from South Boston for operation of its HART (Halifax Area Rural Transportation) system.

It’s also requesting an additional $2,498 in local matching funds from South Boston toward purchase of a new bus, projected to cost $48,393 with room for 10 passengers and equipped with one lift and a radio.

The town contributed $21,574 to the agency in its current budget, but the agency is requesting a total of $26,711 for 2014-15.

The HART system is the only public transportation available in South Boston and Halifax County, Johnny Cleaton told council.

HART provides a valuable service to area residents, Cleaton explained, including stops at nursing homes and hospitals.

Expenses such as fuel and tires are increasing for the bus system, which started in 2005, Cleaton said, adding there may be cutbacks in service if additional funding is not found.

The HART system makes an average of 26-28 bus trips and covers between 120-130 miles daily, Cleaton added.

A total of $75,195 is budgeted for the Main Street program for 2014-15, compared to $73,460 in the current fiscal year. 

Tamyra Vest, Main Street official and executive director of Destination Downtown South Boston, supported her funding request saying South Boston’s participation in the Main Street program has resulted in a cumulative investment of $32,944,619, with a net total of 205 jobs created. 

Mayor Ed Owens asked if Main Street would ever reach the point of being self-sufficient.

Vest replied she didn’t know of any Main Street programs in the state that were self-sufficient, explaining they’re a partnership. 

In answering another question from Owens, Vest estimated 50 percent of downtown businesses participate in the Main Street program.

She told Councilwoman Tina Wyatt-Younger her group would step up efforts to contact both business and property owners and those who have a vested interest in downtown.

United Way of Halifax County is requesting funding support from the town for the first time ever, asking for at least a $5,000 donation for the upcoming year.

Those funds will be used toward the purchase of initial toiletry kits as part of a program begun in 2012 called “A Fresh Start,” to assist citizens in crisis with basic toiletry items, according to United Way CEO/Executive Director Jewell Medley. 

Her organization has given items to Head Start, Good Samaritan, Serving Hope Food Program, Southside Community Service Board customers, homeless persons and victims of domestic violence in the past year, she told council.

Halifax County-South Boston Public Library Director Jay Stephens, The Prizery Artistic Director Chris Jones, Halifax County Tourism Director Linda Shepperd and South Boston-Halifax County Library Director Beth Coates also appeared at the meeting to ask for continued support.

South Boston is proposing level funding of $76,000 for the library system for 2014-15, $20,000 for The Prizery, level funding of $92,00 for the tourism office and level funding of $25,000 for the museum.

In other business on Monday, council adopted a resolution proclaiming the week of April 13-19 as National Library Week; congratulated Destination Downtown South Boston for winning three Main Street Milestone Awards; and adopted a resolution approving a pre-contract resolution, rehab program design, program income plan and housing rehabilitation program board and by-laws for the Washington-Coleman Housing Rehabilitation Project.

Council also went into closed session following the meeting to discuss personnel as allowed by the Code of Virginia to discuss prospective candidates for employment. 

Council took no action after coming out of closed session.