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SoBo Council OKs public hearings for budget amendments

South Boston Town Council, at its Monday work session, authorized a public hearing for its Nov. 4 meeting regarding a budget amendment appropriating monies to both the New Brick Lofts housing project and Washington-Coleman Community Center.

The purpose of the amendment is to appropriate $185,000 (20-year repayable loan) for the New Brick Lofts Housing project and $100,000 in carryover funds to purchase equipment for the Washington-Coleman Community Center project.

Revenue will come from the prior year fund balance, Town Manager Ted Daniel told council at Monday’s meeting.

Daniel identified equipment and furnishings at the community center that would not be funded in the current budget year unless additional fiscal year 2012-13 funding is brought forward to make up for the $122,581 in FY 2013-14 funding applied to the basic construction contract.

Equipment and furnishings included 19 pieces of exercise equipment at a cost of $35,840, 33 pieces of equipment for the recording studio at a cost of $11,922, and furniture and televisions for activity rooms at a cost of $9,000.

“We budgeted only $200,000 this fiscal year to take care of non-contract items, and we didn’t carry over enough,” Daniel said, adding “$100,000 should take care of change orders on the basic contract.

A total of $47,755 had already been spent on other items this fiscal year outside the contract including landscaping, security, signage, engineering, furniture, drainage and Internet, according to Daniel.

The finance committee recommended a public hearing to receive citizen comment on amending the current budget adding $185,000 for a loan to New Brick Historic Lofts, LLC.

Council approved an $185,000 loan to New Brick Historic Lofts, Inc., in the spring, but the loan amount was not included in the 2013-14 budget.

The represents 1.9 percent of the town’s current budget, which requires a public hearing, Daniel told council in September.


Town faces deadline for adoption of disability insurance

The Town of South Boston is facing a Dec. 2 deadline in making a decision concerning providing short and long-term disability coverage for its employees, and town staff explained its recommendation of opting out of the Virginia Retirement System (VRS) local disability program for a private insurance program through Virginia Municipal League.

As of Oct. 18, over 160 political subdivisions and school boards had officially opted out of the VRS program, explained Daniel.

The 2014-16 cost for the VRS program would be small – only 0.60 percent of the Hybrid Retirement Plan employees payroll, but it addresses disability for non-public safety employees hired after Jan. 1, Daniel told council.

Costs would obviously increase as new employees are hired in the coming years, Daniel pointed out.

The cost for comparable coverage through the VML insurance programs is $18,559 for 2014-15, Daniel continued.

He told council the plan covered all eligible full-time employees including public safety with short and long-term disability; a single leave program that integrates short and long-term disability as well as a underlying paid leave system (annual vacation sick leave) to ensure the elimination of gaps or overlaps in income replacement.

Benefits and payroll processes will be streamlined as a result, Daniel noted.

Currently, town employees accrue sick leave at eight hours a month, with a maximum sick leave balance of 90 workdays, with the average employee sick leave balance being 52 days, Daniel told council.

With the VML short-term disability benefits, large sick leave accruals would no longer be necessary, he added.

“VML will provide recommendations for a redesign of our current leave program,” said Daniel.

“Current sick leave balances would be frozen for future use and not eliminated.

“Under the VMLIP program the town would include sick leave days in a paid time off (PTO) program in which sick and vacation leave is combined.

“Under this program we would continue to provide sick leave on an annual basis and provide seven days per year to be used by an employee before any short-term disability benefits would begin.

“We could either eliminate carryover of paid time off or allow a maximum accrual of 12 days.”


Finance report

Town Finance Officer Erle Scott reported the town’s cash operating general fund was in the black with a balance of $392,730 as of Sept. 30.

Year-to-date revenues stood at $2,861,161, while expenditures stood at $3,910,262.

Scott said tax statements should be in the mail this week referring to current real estate collections of $3,702 out of a budget of $860,000.

No personal property tax monies had been received out of a budget of $295,432 as of Sept. 30, explained Scott.

Other selected general fund revenues reflected positive trends overall, according to Scott, including personal property relief collections with a year-to-date amount of $295,432, 100 percent of budgeted totals.

Occupancy tax collections reflected a total of $40,130 as of Sept. 30, or 35 percent of budgeted totals; meals tax collections at $298,181 or 27 percent; categorical aid collections at $583,702 or 26 percent; business license tax collections at $26,273 or 5 percent of budget totals.

As of Oct. 21, a total of $125,526.25 in delinquent tax collections, including penalties and interest, had been collected, 101 percent of a budget of $124,300, Scott told council. 

Scott added delinquent tax collection amounts have “come as a total surprise.”

He explained efforts are ongoing to collect delinquent taxes, adding approximately $60,000 in delinquent tax amounts remain uncollected.

“One year of delinquencies in real estate taxes is my goal before I leave,” Scott declared.

In other agenda items discussed on Monday, Daniel updated council on the zoning ordinance rewrite, saying the process is nearing completion and should be ready prior to a public hearing at a joint meeting between council, and the planning commission planned for a date in December. 

Also, a proposed amendment to town code regarding lost, abandoned or confiscated personal property was advanced to council’s Nov. 4 meeting for further discussion and possible adoption.