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Ordinance, budgets amended

The Prince Edward County Board of Supervisors held three public hearings at its regular September meeting, with each followed by a unanimous vote. One hearing was followed by an 8-0 vote to amend the county ordinance to allow for the implementation of lifetime dog licenses, one was followed by an 8-0 vote to amend the Fiscal Year 2019 (FY19) county budget, and one was followed by an 8-0 vote to amend the Fiscal Year 2020 (FY20) county budget.

Wade Bartlett

No one from the public spoke during any of the public hearings.

During the first hearing pertaining to lifetime dog licenses, Prince Edward County Administrator Wade Bartlett was asked to provide the highlights of the issue.

“What the board of supervisors voted to do was advertise, because we had to have a public hearing to change an ordinance that would amend our animal control ordinance by adding sections 10-52 and 10-56 that would allow citizens to purchase a lifetime dog license instead of an annual dog license,” Bartlett said. “This is a fairly new change in the Code of Virginia, and you’re seeing more and more counties adopt this.

“The proposal would revoke the annual purchase of the regular $10 tag for dogs and $5 for unsexed dogs and implement a one-time purchase of a lifetime tag, also at $10,” he continued. “The primary purpose of a dog license is to make sure that they (have) a rabies vaccination. … There was one other change (we made) where if people lose their tags, they can come in and get a duplicate tag for a fee of $1. Previously it was 25 cents, but the cost has gone up.”

Prior to that summary and immediately upon introduction of the public hearing at the meeting, Bartlett directed supervisors to some additional information on the matter.

“If you’ll look beside your seats, you’ll see a revised ordinance, and if you’ll look at the blue section, we added that,” he said. “That is straight out of the Code of Virginia. We just noticed that. It provides more clarification on there. It basically says, ‘Such a license shall be valid only as long as the animal’s owner resides in the issuing locality and the animal’s rabies vaccination is kept current.’ So it’s a two-step process.

“The lifetime (dog license) is only good in Prince Edward if you buy it in Prince Edward, and you also have to keep that rabies vaccination current,” he continued. “So we felt we needed to put that in there to make sure there was no misunderstanding. Otherwise, without that, if we had written any tickets, we’d have had to have written it under the state code section and not ours.”

After the unanimous vote, Farmville 701 District Supervisor and Board Chairman Jim Wilck opened the public hearing pertaining to amending the FY19 county budget.

“The board authorized the renovation of the former STEPS Centre, which has since become the home of one of the county’s newest businesses — YakAttack,” Bartlett said. “In addition, because of outgrowing the existing courthouse, the board authorized renovations to the courthouse — which we all have seen — and the construction of a new building to house social services and provide leased space to allow STEPS to expand the services they provide to the citizens of the county.

“But before the majority of the work on the courthouse could commence, the (Prince Edward County) Department of Social Services had to move out of their space, which required the new building to be completed,” he continued.

He noted that renovations and construction project schedules are impacted by items such as availability and delivery of materials, weather, scheduling conflicts, etc.

“Such items make it difficult to precisely determine the timing of payments to the general contractor and other vendors,” he said. “Now that we have received all the invoices to be charged to Fiscal Year 19, we know precisely the charges to be applied and can amend the Fiscal Year 19 budget. … After all invoices have been accounted for, the Fiscal Year 19 budget needs to be amended to reflect the expenditure of $2,744,789 associated with the construction of both the new building to house the Department of Social Services (DSS) and the renovations to the former STEPS Centre.”

An attachment in the board meeting packet showed a table with a credit of $2,744,789 from the general fund balance. The debits were broken down as follows:

• STEPS Centre A&E (architecture and engineering): $79,185

• STEPS Centre renovation: $1,075,445

• DSS building A&E: $136,468

• DSS building construction: $1,453,691

After the unanimous vote, Bartlett transitioned directly into the public hearing pertaining to amending the FY20 county budget.

This amendment was also connected to the former STEPS Centre renovation, the courthouse renovation and the construction of the new building housing the DSS and providing leased space to STEPS.

“To assist in paying (for) these projects, the board authorized borrowing funds through the Virginia Resource Authority (VRA),” Bartlett said. “The bonds have been sold, and the county will be receiving $7,168,789 with a true interest rate of 2.44 percent. Of those funds received, $90,000 will be used to pay the cost of issuance, which includes payment to the county’s bond attorney, the county’s financial consultant and various other vendors and issuance costs. The remainder will be used to pay the architectural and construction contracts.

“To stay on schedule the new social services building and the courthouse renovation projects had to be started prior to the sale of the bonds,” he continued. “The county has been paying the A&E and the construction costs from its fund balance. The board anticipated this requirement and approved a resolution that allows the county to reimburse itself for the funds it has fronted.”

An attachment in the board meeting packet showed a table with $7,168,789 coming from VRA Series 2019B. How that amount will be allocated was broken down as follows:

• Courthouse A&E: $13,206

• Courthouse construction: $4,485,000

• STEPS Centre A&E: $0

• STEPS Centre renovation: $139,253

• DSS building A&E: $13,403

• DSS building construction: $2,206,927

• DSS FF&E (furniture, fixtures & equipment): $221,000

• Bond issuance cost: $90,000