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Action deferred on Green View grant request

Halifax County Board of Supervisors deferred action until its December meeting on Halifax County Industrial Development Authority’s tobacco commission grant request for $1.3 million to further renovate the Green View Advanced Manufacturing Center in South Boston.

During their Monday night meeting, supervisors said they needed more time to “do due diligence” and “properly vet the project” before they commit to providing a $150,000 local match for the former Daystrom Furniture building during the next fiscal year.

Also as part of the request, the supervisors would be expected to make an additional $50,000 to $150,000 contribution to this project stretching out over the next four years for a possible total of over $600,000.

“I have a number of questions we need to get answered,” said ED-1 Supervisor J. T. Davis who offered the motion to defer action on the request until the board’s December meeting.

“This will give us more time to weigh the project and set our priorities,” he added.

According to County Administrator Jim Halasz, as part of the total project budget of $1,492,000, the county IDA has committed $42,000 of its funds as a local match and is requesting $150,000 from supervisors in the upcoming fiscal year.

 “It is important for the board to recognize that the IDA is not asking for an actual multi-year funding commitment from the board at this point,” Halasz pointed out. “However, it is clearly envisioned that the IDA may return each year to the board with a request for an additional $50,000 to $150,000 contribution to this project stretching out over an additional four years.”

He urged supervisors to carefully consider the request reminding that such a commitment could make the board seem to be assigning a financial priority to this project as opposed to the many other needs facing the county.

In the time frame it was presented, the county administrator said present circumstances provide little opportunity for the board to weigh this request against other competing priorities.

All available funds for this year have been fully allocated leaving the supervisors with the only option of taking the funds from the fund balance or from the next fiscal year’s budget.

If supervisors choose to use funds for the Green View project from next year’s budget, Halasz said it would mean committing money before other budgetary requests are reviewed for FY 2014.

He pointed out Monday night, if supervisors commit to the funding request, they can not guarantee taxpayers a certain number of jobs will be created at the former Daystrom facility, nor can they guarantee a definite return on the investment.

On the other hand, the county administrator said, “The relatively small local match of $192,000” will leverage an additional $1.3 million in funds to be invested in local manufacturing resources to assist in job creation. 

“In fact, the Green View property arguably would be the only ready to occupy industrial space available in Halifax County for a large number of manufacturing uses,” he said.

Halasz said he believes it is in the best interest of the county, IDA and taxpayers to provide the local match of $150,000, but he added the supervisors must have every expectation the IDA fully comprehends that no multi-year commitment of funds to this project can be anticipated.

“I would anticipate that the IDA be provided notice that all future requests for funding be brought forth to the board of supervisors within the context of the appropriate fiscal year for which funding is sought,” Halasz said.

The county administrator said supervisors have been approached several times to fund projects and activities “in special circumstances.”

In those instances, Halasz said he has reminded supervisors they cannot continue to fund requests from the ever-depleting fund balance.

“We must exercise greater fiscal discipline and meet our obligations and the desire of the community to fund projects within the limits of our operating budget,” he said.

Halasz said the board has in past years considered such requests as they have arisen, and he acknowledged the IDA must work within the context of the grant cycle of the Tobacco Commission which cannot easily be made to coincide with the county’s budgetary cycle.

Halifax County Industrial Development Authority Executive Director Matthew Leonard told supervisors Monday night that deferring action on the request until next month’s meeting should not adversely affect the tobacco commission’s consideration of the $1.3 million grant request.

“They will make their decision based on merits,” he said, adding, “but we need to be careful we do not jeopardize it.”

In other action Monday night, supervisors selected ED-4 Supervisor Doug Bowman to serve on The Prizery Board of Directors as part of a condition for the board of supervisors’ recent approval of a one-year $60,000 loan to the performing arts center.

Also ED-7 Supervisor Lottie Nunn and ED-1 Supervisor Davis were appointed to the joint library committee charged with studying various questions and issues involving the public library system in Halifax County.

Nunn and Davis will join two recently named appointees from South Boston Town Council – Ed Owens and Bill Snead – along with two others to be named by the Halifax Town Council.

The six-member panel will study the future of the local library system including a possible consolidation of South Boston and Halifax branches into one central site.

South Boston/Halifax County YMCA President and CEO Marcus Hargrave gave a PowerPoint presentation on programs and activities the YMCA provides to county residents telling supervisors the Y “needs some (financial) help.”

Over $385,000 has been spent on renovations at the 37-year-old facility since 2004, most funded through grants.

Just this year, Hargrave said the Y had to spend $25,000 to replace a sand filter for the pool, $25,000 that was not budgeted.

He urged supervisors to consider the local YMCA’s pressing needs during the upcoming budget process.

Supervisors also took the following actions Monday evening:

Approved a recommendation from the parks and recreation committee to permit a stage to be constructed at Serenity Garden in Edmunds Park at no cost to the county;

 Gave the green light to a request from Halifax County School Superintendent Dr. Merle Herndon to reconstruct the board meeting room podium into a semi-circular layout at a cost of no more than $2,000 so school board members and supervisors who use the table can visually see and be seen by each other during meetings;

Pitching the proposal to supervisors Monday evening, Herndon said, “A woman comes in, and she wants to change the furniture…I know you won’t say this.”

Herndon pointed out 10 students under the leadership of vocational teacher Warren Pennick would build the crescent-shaped table during winter break, so it could be used at the January supervisors’ and school board meetings.

  Approved terms of a grant agreement with the Virginia Department of Aviation for the design phase of a fuel system relocation at William M. Tuck Airport;

 Set two public hearings for the planning commission on Nov. 27 and supervisors on Dec. 3 to hear public comment on a request for a conditional use permit application from Barbara Tucker who wants to operate a beauty salon and school at a location at 9044 James D. Hagood Highway;

  Appointed ED-5 Supervisor Barry Bank, who was absent from Monday night’s meeting, to serve on the Southside Community Services Board filling the vacancy created by the resignation of Nancy Leonard;

 Appointed Nancy Hazelwood to fill an ED-5 vacancy on the Transportation Safety Commission after John Throckmorton asked not to be reappointed;

 Requested County Administrator Halasz to meet with Halifax County Treasurer Linda Foster to get an update on what is being done to collect delinquent personal property and real estate taxes as well as work out logistical issues with collection of the newly implemented solid waste fee; and

 Adopted a policy that in matters of significant financial, policy, legal or political considerations will require a 30-day period of review before action is taken by the board after being presented to supervisors by the county administrator.

However, supervisors agreed this period of review could be waived “for good and appropriate reason requiring immediate action.”