Highland Board of Supervisors November Meeting

The Highland County Board of Supervisors held it’s November meeting on Tuesday evening.  The Board voted to install Carl Williams as Chief of Highland County Emergency Medical Services.   Williams had been serving as Interim Chief.  Supervisor David Blanchard said Williams has experience with the history of the challenges facing EMS and knows how to incorporate both volunteers and paid staff.

County Administrator Roberta Lambert reminded the Board that there is money left in the CARES Act funding, that needs to be expended by December 31.  Any money not used by then has to be returned.    Supervisor Blanchard said they are looking at ideas they considered in the past, such as Courthouse bathroom improvements, EMS equipment, technology improvements in the modular conference center for virtual meetings and installation of a bathroom in the county building where the CSA and VPAS offices are located.

Commissioner of the Revenue Yvonne Wimer reported on the recent significant changes the General Assembly made to the Transient Occupancy Tax.  She said now the tax is going to be collected on the entire amount of a rental transaction, including the accommodation fees from intermediaries such as Airbnb, VRBO or any entity that collects fees on top of the rental rate.   Wimer said prior to the change the intermediaries kept their portion of the fee and submitted the tax on the portion that the provider received and then the provider sent the tax in.  Wimer said now she receives one lump check from the intermediaries and they won’t share who the tax is for and won’t separate it, due to privacy issues.   She now has to try to figure out which lodging facility the taxes are for.  She said there are a lot of different scenarios depending on the type of lodging.  Wimer said the Commissioners Association plans to bring this issue back before the General Assembly for review.

The Board also discussed creating a Resolution on cell towers and including language in the Comprehensive Plan to show that the local government is in support of new cell services coming to the county.  County Attorney Melissa Dowd will draft a resolution and will also review language for the Comp Plan.

County Administrator Roberta Lambert reported that some individuals on the McDowell water system have been turning their water meters off and on, which causes the meters to wear out.  The meters are county equipment and are only supposed to the turned off or on by county staff.  There are plans to put reminders about the meters in the water bills and, if that doesn’t resolve the problem, water operators asked if a fee or a fine could be added to the regulations.  The Board agreed to add a fine, if needed, and County Attorney Melissa Dowd will research adding that to the regulations.

During Board comments, Supervisor David Blanchard thanked the EMS team for their efforts.  He said after going through trials earlier this year the crew is working together to answer calls, is meeting the challenges of multiple calls and is getting all of the calls answered.  He expressed his appreciation for the paid staff, the volunteers and the fire departments.

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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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