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Prizery funding hits snag by supervisors

Halifax County Supervisors are being advised not to commit funding $60,000 to The Prizery until staff has further opportunity to fully evaluate this request and its impact on the budget.

During its regular monthly meeting scheduled to get under way at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday in the Mary Bethune office complex in Halifax, supervisors will hear a presentation from Prizery officers regarding current management and operational plans.

They also are expected to request the $60,000 in funding Tuesday evening.

The Prizery’s funding request comes on the heels of South Boston Town Council voting unanimously last month to commit $60,000 in contingency money to The Prizery to be used specifically to retire their historic tax credit obligation, which is binding upon The Prizery’s assets.

Council’s donation of $60,000 was contingent upon The Prizery obtaining a matching contribution from the Halifax County Board of Supervisors.

“This action and the commitment of funds based on a similar action on the part of Halifax County came as a complete surprise,” said County Administrator Jim Halasz. “Neither Prizery representatives nor South Boston officials contacted county representatives about any request or need for funding by The Prizery.”

After hearing of council’s action, Halasz said he contacted Prizery board member Matt Leonard who explained The Prizery had not anticipated South Boston would take the action it did but was pleased South Boston had made the financial commitment.

“The Prizery had hoped to communicate with Halifax representatives to provide a report on the current status of The Prizery and demonstrate the commitment of the Prizery board and staff to enhancing the financial and performance objectives of The Prizery,” Halasz said.

Last week the county administrator along with ED-4 Supervisor Doug Bowman and ED-8 Supervisor W. Bryant Claiborne heard The Prizery’s presentation that Alison Streeter and Leonard are expected to present Tuesday night to the full board.

The presentation details the steps being taken at The Prizery to assure it remains “a vital and dynamic venue and community asset” for many more years to come, Halasz said.

The county administrator said he is personally very supportive of The Prizery but cautioned supervisors to view this unanticipated funding request “with great care.”

During the few weeks he has worked for the county, Halasz said it has come to his attention the county’s reserve in fund balance has been drawn down on numerous occasions to meet demands for unanticipated funding requests.

“It appears that our unrestricted fund balance does not fully meet the standard expectation of minimum reserves in place to meet operational needs in an extended and severe economic downturn or natural or manmade calamities,” the county administrator warned.

Halasz said he plans to recommend the board make no commitment to any potential request for funds until staff has more of an opportunity to evaluate how funding this request may impact the budget and county’s financial condition.

In other action Tuesday night, supervisors will hold a public hearing on a request from Douglas D. and Melissa E. Bowen for a conditional use permit to locate a country store and creamery adjacent to 3070 Howard P. Anderson Road in ED #4.

The planning commission recommended board approval after holding a public hearing last Tuesday.

A second public hearing is slated Tuesday night on trash amendments that recognize the board’s previous action to form the Halifax County Solid Waste Disposal Authority and enters into an agreement with the authority to dispose of solid waste and to set fees to cover the costs of trash disposal in the county.

Supervisors created a separate agency under state code to provide for the disposal of solid waste within the county, and that authority contracts with the county for the actual day to day operations of disposal services including pick-up from the convenience sites and green boxes, operation and maintenance of the transfer station and transport of waste to the regional landfill, the county administrator explained. 

Establishing the separate agency for the purpose of disposing of the county’s solid waste is required before fees can be charged for the service, he added.

The county has implemented a $4 per month solid waste disposal fee this year that required the establishment of the agency.

The new Halifax County Solid Waste Authority is scheduled to meet at 5:30 p.m. prior to the supervisors meeting Tuesday. (See related story)

The final public hearing Tuesday evening is scheduled on amendments to county code to permit the recovery of costs associated with the clean-up of methamphetamine labs.

The General Assembly passed legislation last session permitting local governments to seek reimbursement for costs associated with the clean-up of meth labs that can run in the tens of thousands of dollars, Halasz explained.

“Due to the highly toxic array of chemicals used and produced during the production of meth, in some instances disposal of these chemicals and even the condemnation of structures where labs were located can be a costly proposition,” he said, advising supervisors to make this tool available to the county should it need to be used.

In other business, supervisors are expected to take the following actions:

Receive a status report from Kenneth Martin of the Virginia Department of Transportation;

 Hear an update on the Southern Virginia Regional Alliance from Halifax County Industrial Development Authority Executive Director Matt Leonard.

 Consider adopting a proposed agreement with the Halifax County Solid Waste Disposal Authority;

 Consider adoption of the Rehab Program Design for the Halifax County Urgent Needs Project;

With the assistance of the Planning District Commission and the county’s legislative delegation, the county was successful in procuring funds to replace the housing four residents lost in a tornado that struck during the spring of 2011.

Tuesday night supervisors are expected to adopt the requirements so the county Urgent Needs Project can proceed in providing housing to these four residents.

 Be informed Ag Development Director Leah Brown will assist in the management of this year’s Halifax County Junior Livestock Show and Sale;

 Consider authorizing the county administrator to publish the 2010-11 real and personal property delinquent tax lists in area newspapers;

 Set a public hearing for next month on a request for a conditional use permit from Gary Chesbro to operate a taxidermy shop specializing in fish only at 2070 Grubby Road, approximately 1.3 miles west of its intersection with Sinai Road in ED-3;

 Set a public hearing for next month on a request for a conditional use permit from Mary R. Mayberry to operate a tire shop and repossession business adjacent to 2170 Cedar Grove in ED-6;

 Hear a financial report from Finance Director Stephanie Jackson along with any committee reports; and 

 Fill vacancies on the Halifax County Improvement Council, Southside Regional Group Home Commission, Southside Community Services Board, War Memorial Oversite Committee, Transportation Safety Commission, Lake Country Area Agency on Aging, Old Dominion Resource Conservation and Development Council, Community Criminal Justice Board and committees on which former County Administrator George Nester served as a member.

At the conclusion of tonight’s meeting, supervisors are expected to go behind closed doors in an executive session to discuss specific personnel matters, the acquisition or disposition of property; the protection of the privacy of individuals in personal matters not related to public business; a prospective business or industry or expansion of an existing business; consult with legal counsel and discuss award of a public contract involving public funds.