Highland Board of Supervisors December Meeting
The Highland County Board of Supervisors met December 7 for it’s monthly meeting.
The Board set two public hearings for it’s January 4th meeting. The first is on the revised Transient Occupancy Tax ordinance. County Attorney Melissa Dowd drafted a revision of the current ordinance to bring Highland into compliance with new state law. She explained that the General Assembly made changes to assess the tax on the total cost of a vacation rental, including fees from intermediaries such as Airbnb. Dowd said the revised ordinance now includes campgrounds, even though at this point there are none located in Highland. If the Board adopts the revised ordinance in January, it will be effective as of January 1.
The second public hearing set for January 4th will be on the closure of the Wilson’s Mill and Head Waters polling places. The Head Waters location is not in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Wilson’s Mill location barely meets the requirements. The Head Waters location is in a workshop in Head Waters that doesn’t have an indoor bathroom, a porta potty has to be brought in. The Wilson’s Mill polling place is at Victory Chapel Church in Mustoe, where there’s no phone and there are issues with indoor space requirements and concerns about steep steps outside. If passed by the Board, the Head Waters precinct will consolidate with McDowell and Wilson’s Mill will consolidate with Monterey.
The Board voted to spend the last of the CARES Act funding that was received last year. The balance needed to be spent by the end of this year or be returned. The Board voted to give approximately $21,000 to the Highland Volunteer Rescue Squad for the purchase of a new cardiac monitor. The monitor costs $31,357 and the rescue squad will pay the difference. The Board voted to give $5,453 to each of the following: the Department of Social Services, the Bolar, McDowell and Monterey Fire Departments, the Bolar Volunteer Rescue Squad and Highland Children’s House day care. The money to DSS will be used to provide a heating assistance program. The money for Highland Children’s House will be used to add outdoor play equipment and to make the outdoor play space more accessible. There were also requests for bathroom upgrades at the Courthouse and the addition of a bathroom in the VPAS building, but Supervisor David Blanchard said those requests may be met through capital improvement funding. More money will also be available for use by the county from the American Rescue Plan funding.
Betty Mitchell spoke about the work the EDA, The Highland Center, the Chamber and the Tourism Council are doing with the Rural Capacity Development Initiative. As part of that, there is a survey out now and she encouraged everyone to take it to provide information for future community and economic development efforts. The survey is available at www.highlandcounty.org
Highland County Volunteer Rescue Squad President Paul Trible gave an update. He said total EMS calls last year were 236 and to date there have been 312 calls, with several weeks left in the year. He reported that calls are being answered and that EMS employees and volunteers are working well together and meeting on a monthly basis.