Bath Supervisors hold April Meeting

The Bath Board of Supervisors had a few public comments last Tuesday evening, but none focused exclusively on the upcoming budget approvals, as might be anticipated this time of year.  Emily Fry, Chamber of Commerce executive director, invited board members and the public the to annual dinner held at Garth Newel.  She said the dinner is a way to show appreciation to “the membership of the Chamber and the business community, and really highlight their success throughout the year. So we have a really great program planned for that event.  That’s also where we do our presentation of the Business of the Year Award.  We have three nominees so far, and we’re excited to present the community with that as well, so, just. Reminder that you all are invited to that, so we’d love to have you all there if you can make it.”

When the business part of the meeting got under way, county administrator, Ashton Harrison, introduced the tax rates per hundred dollars.

“It was advertised and proposed for tax rates to remain unchanged, which is fifty cents for real estate, and thirty-five cents for personal property.  And we have not received any written comments.” 

“The public hearing is now open . . . “

After Board Chair Richard Bird’s call for comments, he also explained that no vote will be taken until May 14th.  For those still wishing to take a closer look at the County and the Schools fiscal year 2019-2020 please look in the minutes of both boards on their websites, or contact the county administrator.  One member of the public who provided some carefully prepared history, and a look to the future, was Harold King, chair of the Bath County Fire and Rescue Association. 

“While this year’s budget makes all the equipment requested by emergency services, and approved by the planning commission available in 2020, it funds the request with a loan and only one quarter of the expense is paid in 2020 with a balance of the loan due over the next three years.  There are additional requests for future years roughly equivalent to this year’s requests, that are needed to complete the five and twenty-five year plans required for stability of emergency services in the county.  The net effect of this year’s budget is that it increases the expense in future years, while minimizing expense this year.” 

Mr. King mentioned if supervisors are aware  of, and prepared to account for an annual increase in future requests, then all is fine.

“However, if the focus is primarily on meeting this year’s needs, we need to carefully revaluate our plans.  We would say that Emergency Services is not alone with this concern.  We believe that the sheriff’s department, and the Board of Education would have similar concerns for the replacement of vehicles.  A possible solution for this issue would be that the board of supervisors, the Planning Commission, the Fire and Rescue Association, the board of Education, the sheriff’s department work on short and long range plans for the funding of replacement vehicles for these agencies and departments.  This reflects reality that vehicles wear out and need replacement on a regular basis.” 

Again, the vote on the budget will be at the next regular meeting May 14th, and public comment is welcome until then.   Two other items of note were the board voted to put out a request for proposal to perform a market analysis about the need and capacity for affordable housing throughout Bath County.  The first step to developing such housing will be to acquire large scale funding, and then to look for available, appropriate sites for residences.  The board also voted to approve a collaboration with the Virginia Outdoors Foundation to purchase the old TC Walker school building at the top of the spur in Millboro.  While there was no mention of a specific purpose for  building at this point, Chairman Richard Bird commented a little on the history of Rosenwald Schools, and then shared, “This one is in pretty good shape.  There’s one in the county that is not in good shape.  This one needs to be kept up, and the other one needs to be put down.”

For information on the progress of renovations on two old buildings in Millboro, the Siloam Baptist Church, and the TC Walker School, please stay tuned to Allegheny Mountain Radio.

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Bonnie Ralston

Bonnie Ralston is the Assistant Station Coordinator at WVLS and a Highland County news reporter. She began volunteering at Allegheny Mountain Radio in the fall of 2005. In 2006 she became an AMR employee and worked in Bath County for eight years as the WCHG Station Coordinator and then as the news reporter there. She began working in radio while in college and has stayed connected to radio, in one way or another, for more than thirty years. She grew up in Staunton, Virginia, while spending a lot of time on her family’s farm in Deerfield, Virginia. She enjoys spending time outside, watching old TV shows and movies and tending to her chickens.

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