Highland Board of Supervisors November Work Session

The Highland County Board of Supervisors held it’s November work session on the 17th.

The Board voted to adopt two resolutions for the county to participate in the Virginia Opioid Abatement Fund.  The drug distributors and manufacturers have agreed to pay a settlement as long as every locality in Virginia signs off on the resolutions.  By signing, localities can no longer sue the companies.  If all localities sign, $530 million dollars will be given to Virginia.  County Attorney Melissa Dowd said 15% will go to the localities.  Highland would receive an estimated $1,800 in unrestricted funds and another $1,800 in restricted funds for opioid abatement, that could be used for things such as law enforcement.

The Board also discussed the regulations for the McDowell water system.  Some users have been cutting their water meters off and on without notifying water operators.  County Attorney Melissa Dowd explained that is a violation of current regulations.   When the next water bills go out, a letter will be included to remind users of the regulations.  Dowd said if the issue continues, the regulations already allow the county to disconnect service, assess a restoration fee of $50 and, if damage is done to the county water meters, the user can be charged with a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the dollar amount of the damage.  Repeatedly turning the meters off and on causes them to wear out more quickly and the county would have to replace them more frequently.

Dowd also reported that she is rewriting the county ordinance on the Transient Occupancy Tax.   The revision is needed to make adjustments due to a change made by the General Assembly.  The tax is now going to be collected on the entire amount of a rental transaction including fees from intermediaries, such as Airbnb.  Now intermediaries are only required to submit one lump check for tax payment and won’t reveal or break down the amounts per rental. This is making it very difficult for the Commissioner of the Revenue to figure out which lodging facility the taxes are for.

There was discussion on a county cell service resolution.  Dowd has drafted the resolution which states that the county supports and welcomes new cell service and needs additional wireless telecommunications facilities.  She also recommended adding more detailed information on cell service to the Comprehensive Plan and having the Planning Commission create a cell tower ordinance.

County Administrator Roberta Lambert reported that $53,720 is still left in CARES Act funding, which  needs to be spent by December 31.  She gave the Board estimates on several possible uses it has been considering, including giving each volunteer fire and rescue agency $5,000, upgrading Courthouse restrooms and upgrading equipment for virtual meetings.  There was also a request from Highland Volunteer Rescue Squad for a cardiac monitor that costs more than $31,000 and citizen requests for day care funding and new radio equipment for EMS.  There was also discussion of the addition of a bathroom in the VPAS building.  The board will review and make decisions on the items at it’s next meeting on December 7.

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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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