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Mike Sexton appointed to Halifax planning commission; hearing set on budget

Halifax Town Council voted to appointed former Halifax County Industrial Development Director Mike Sexton to fill the vacant position on the Planning Commission during the monthly meeting Tuesday night.

With Councilman Phil Hammond absent and Councilman Thomas Brown opposed, four votes were cast in favor of Sexton.

 Sexton will fill the vacant seat of former commissioner Tim Moore whose term expired two months ago.

 In other action taken Tuesday night council members set the first reading and public hearing for Tuesday, May 22, on the town’s 2012-2013 proposed $1.13 million budget.

The budget calls for no increase in tax rates and includes a two percent cost of living increase for all employees. 

 The finance committee met on April 18 to discuss the proposed budget making a few revisions. The committee met once again last Wednesday afternoon to review the revised version of the proposed budget and decided to move forward with the first reading and public hearing.

Also Tuesday night council adopted a resolution authorizing the refinancing of a $500,000 taxable bond obligation for the 2006 purchase of the grocery property now known as the Farmers Market.

Terms and conditions of the financing are subject to completion of due diligence and final credit approval, according to Town Manager Carl Espy.

The town agreed to borrow up to $478,000 to refinance the loan made for the grocery property. The principal will be amortized over 13 years, with level debt service payments due semi-annually.

The town may prepay the note at any time without penalty.

According to Mayor Dick Moore, the town could save up to $9,000 a year in principal and interest by refinancing the loan.

Council also adopted a resolution Tuesday night requesting the Virginia Department of Transportation to make road and pedestrian safety improvements at the intersection of U.S. Highway 501 and Scenic Route 360.

 In the resolution, council requests the Commonwealth Transportation Board secure future six year improvement program funding in multiple years of construction along U.S. Highway 501 corridor as prioritized by the Route 501 Corridor improvements study.

Council agreed the funding would be used for specific pedestrian and vehicular safety improvements to include a possible modern roundabout as the town works to install decorative lighting, additional sidewalks, landscaping, pedestrian and bicycle facilities and harmonized industrial access near the Banister River creating highway corridor enhancements as a major gateway into the historic county seat.

Also Tuesday night council voted to authorize the mayor to sign a cooperative building inspection program and a building code services agreement with the county.

The agreement calls for county building officials to provide building code services within the boundaries of the town.

 Also Tuesday evening, council agreed to divide the Banister River Festival into two events set for Sept. 15 and Oct. 27.

At last week’s work session, Councilmen Jack Dunavant and Bill Confroy expressed concerns about the event, originally planned for Oct. 27, being held so late in the year. 

They said they were concerned the weather would prevent people from being able to enjoy the river. The promotion of the river and awareness of the threat uranium mining would bring to the river was what they perceived the event to be about.

However, at Tuesday night’s meeting, Brown said it was his understanding the festival was supposed to be a fall event embracing the culture of Halifax and inclusive to local businesses.

Brown said he didn’t mind the Banister River Festival being about uranium mining as long as they have a second festival later in the fall promoting Halifax’s culture.

Members agreed the Banister River Festival in September will be focused on creating awareness of the uranium mining threat to the river, and the October Fest will be an event embracing the culture and history of Halifax.