Highland County Board of Supervisors April 2023 Work Session

The Highland County Board of Supervisors held it’s monthly work session on April 19.

The public hearing was held on the proposed Fiscal Year 2024 budget.

The General Fund budget is $10,331,467.00.  The levies on $100 of assessed value are .48 for real estate and mobile homes, $2.75 for personal property, $1.00 for machinery and tools and $1.00 for merchant’s capital.  There is no tax increase in the proposed budget and this is the fifth year with no increase.

The General Fund budget expenditures are 53% to the school system, 36% to the county, 8% to social services, 2% to children’s services and 1% to capital improvements.

There was one speaker during public comment.  School Superintendent Dr. Drew Maerz said he recognized that the school is the largest part of the county budget and he assured the Board that the school system was working to be good stewards of the resources.  He also said he wanted to speak up for other county agencies and offer support for them, hoping that wages and benefit packages can be raised to be competitive with other counties, so they can recruit people to come into Highland.

There were no comments during the public hearing on the Solid Waste Collection and Disposal Fund budget.  The budget is $342,905.00.  There is no increase in the Enterprise Fee.  It will remain at $150 for residential, $75 for business – low density, $150 for business – low/medium density, $225 for business – medium density and $300 for business – high density.

There were no comments during the public hearing on the Emergency Medical Services Fund Budget.  The budget is $587,776.00 and it includes a transfer of unspent funds due to vacant positions.   There is no increase in the EMS Fee, it will remain at $180 annually.  The budget includes funding for an EMS Chief, four EMT’s, one Advanced EMT and one Paramedic, or a combination of those positions.

The Board of Supervisors will meet to adopt the budget on Wednesday, April 26, at 7:30pm at The Highland Modular Conference Center in Monterey.

Supervisor Harry Sponaugle provided the Board with information from Verizon on design criteria for cell tower sites.  The information said towers can be installed on top of buildings, if the buildings are tall enough.  He wondered if one could be installed on the county’s emergency services tower on Jack Mountain.  County Attorney Melissa Dowd said tower sites are required to be 100 to 500 feet from a paved public street, so that tower doesn’t meet the criteria.  Board Chairman David Blanchard said he would send the information to the Central Shenandoah Planning District Commission for their review.  He said the Bath-Highland Network Authority is pursing the installation of additional towers, but it has been hard to find a Verizon representative to talk with.

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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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