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Speece named vice-mayor of South Boston

Coleman Speece, who has served on South Boston Town Council for more than 10 years, was appointed vice-mayor Monday night at council’s monthly meeting.

Councilman Bill Snead, in making the motion to appoint Speece, said he had communicated with the other four council members at different times prior to his motion, with all concurring.

“Coleman has served our council well over the last 10 years,” Snead said on Monday.

“He always has a good grasp of the issues we face and is never afraid to step up and voice his feelings about an issue. He has consistently worked for the betterment of our citizens and our community.”

Speece did an excellent job while serving on the committee that had the task of forming the Halifax County Service Authority, Snead said while nominating Speece.

Speece, in the midst of his fourth term on council, was first elected in 2000.


Council approves budget adjustment

Council approved a $20,000 increase to the personal property tax line item in the proposed 2013-14 budget Monday night.

The town’s finance committee recommended increasing the anticipated amount of personal property tax collections in the proposed budget from $445,000 to $465,000, after hearing Town Finance Officer Erle Scott’s monthly report at the March work session.

Scott told council personal property tax collections as of Feb. 28 amounted to $483,401, 111 percent over the $435,000 budgeted for the current fiscal year, and town staff recommended a $20,000 increase in that line item.

Town staff is not projecting any tax increases, rate increases or fee increases in the proposed budget, now set at $9,559,927.

There are no salary increases for town employees in the proposed budget except through the pay for performance pool, increased from $56,000 to $64,499.

The proposed budget represents almost a $2 million decrease over the current year budget of $11,456,802, the difference driven predominately by capital improvements not included in this year’s figures.


Council approves street closures

Council voted unanimously Monday to approve an ordinance accepting a board of viewers recommendation to close Prospect Avenue and Grove Street and convey a 196.95-foot by 30-foot strip of land at the west end of Grove Street to Beverly Caldwell at a cost of $1,500.

Sections to be closed include an 859-foot by 30-foot section of the existing right-of-way of Grove Street, lying south of Jeffress Boulevard, east of Penick Avenue and west of Jefferson Street; and a 238-foot by 30-foot section of the existing northern end of Prospect Avenue, south of Grove Street.

Both right-of-ways have never been opened or used by the public, and both lie on Washington-Coleman School property owned by the town.

Caldwell, a resident of 1505 Penick Avenue, addressed council during a public hearing last month in support of the closing, telling council she wanted to purchase a 30x197-foot strip of land adjacent to her property.

The board of viewers had recommended the strip of land be sold to Caldwell for $1,500, but Caldwell appeared before council again at Monday’s meeting and asked to lower that cost to $500, citing the expenses of attorney’s fees and other expenses such as land surveying, deed acquisition and costs to improve the land.

“I’m not asking council to give me a handout, rather a hand up,” Caldwell said on Monday.

Councilmen Morris Bryant and Vice-Mayor Speece told Caldwell they had reservations in going against the board of viewer’s recommendations in selling town-owned land.

“We have a peculiar responsibility, in that we don’t own the property, the property is owned by the taxpayers of South Boston, and we have to be very careful with how we administer it,” said Speece.

College Street homeowner Mae Reed and South Boston Town Council had reached a compromise in December on the cost of closing an unopened right-of-way adjacent to her property with council voting unanimously to convey a 197 foot by 30 foot portion of the alley to Reed at a cost of $1,500.

That was slightly more than half the $2,718.60 fair market value of the land as determined by a board of viewers appointed by council.

Reed, who spoke in favor of the conveyance during a public hearing in December, had requested the land be conveyed to her at no cost in order to build a garage, and the board of viewers found no inconvenience to the public by closing the street.

“There was a concession made in that case where I personally had some misgivings,” Speece told Caldwell Monday night.

“I think when we deviate from the board of viewers’ recommendation, we are setting a risky precedent despite our desire to help you.”


Obligation bond financing for W-C project approved

Council adopted a resolution approving $2,355,000 in general obligation fund financing for the Washington-Coleman Community Center project at Monday’s meeting.

Council’s action came after a public hearing in which no one spoke either in favor of against the resolution.

The town intends to apply proceeds of the bond toward reimbursing its costs already incurred and paid from the general fund to finance certain capital improvements to and renovations of the Washington-Coleman school building for Phase I of the early learning center and Phase 2 of the community center.

The town also will apply proceeds of the bond toward refunding its bond anticipation note, which was sold to SunTrust to supply interim financing for the project.

Speece remarked about the dedication and hard work Daniel has put into the community center project.

“It’s been a personal crusade of his,” said Speece. “He’s spent a lot of time and effort and with a lot of support from the community to see it come to fruition.”


Resolutions honoring late mayor adopted

Council unanimously adopted a pair of memorial resolutions honoring the late Mayor Carroll Thackston, including one from the town and the other a joint resolution.

The board of supervisors adopted the joint resolution at its April 1 meeting, and the town is planning to present a framed copy of the joint resolution and accompanying plaque to the Thackston family April 15 at 5 p.m. at Oak Ridge Cemetery during a ceremony to dedicate a new flagpole.

The resolution itself will be presented to the Thackston family at a joint meeting in Halifax later that day at 6 p.m.