Farmville mayor reacts to financial proposals

Published 6:00 am Saturday, June 6, 2020

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Farmville Mayor David Whitus dismissed the ideas of cutting pay and leasing the town’s golf course in response to proposals put forth in a guest column by a former city council candidate.

David Whitus

Carl U. Eggleston suggested the town council not accept any pay, department heads take a 10% pay cut, and the town lease the municipal golf course in a guest column of the Wednesday, June 3, edition of The Farmville Herald.

Eggleston, a resident and business owner,  recently sought a seat on town council during the May 19 election when he ran against incumbent Dan Dwyer.

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“First, I propose that the members of the Farmville Council, along with the mayor, forgo the honorariums received for service for the next fiscal year,” Eggleston proposed. “I feel that this action will show the citizens of Farmville that its leaders are willing to step-up first to help the economic woes the town will surely face.”

Whitus said the town has been trying to limit personnel actions as it moves through the financial challenges caused by the pandemic.

“We are clearly in unprecedented times. The town council has been actively engaged in discussions to lead our town through this pandemic,” he said. “As so many have said, there is no playbook or guide for these times. One of council’s initial goals was to keep everyone, i.e., employees, taxpayers, and other stakeholders, as whole as possible. When people are experiencing loss, the last thing you want to do is take something from them and if you are a taxpayer, add an additional tax burden.”

Carl U. Eggleston

Eggleston also proposed that all department heads take a 10% pay cut. “Belt-tightening should start at the top, and modest pay cuts among department heads would be a step in the right direction,” Eggleston said.

Whitus said the proposed budget, which council will hold a public hearing June 10, does not contain any salary increases or service bonuses and all expenses have been budgeted at minimal levels, and the capital improvement budget will require additional council action to be spent.

The 2020/2021 budget is proposed to be $23.4 million, which is $5.3 million less than last fiscal year’s budget.

“Recognizing that finances are very fluid, the finance committee, in conjunction with the town staff, will be reviewing income and expenses in greater detail on a monthly basis and making recommendations to council for any changes necessary,” Whitus said. “Should revenue not meet budget, the council will recommend expense reductions accordingly, and everything will be a consideration. Council’s path forward is with gentle, measured steps to keep as much balance in the system as possible.”

Whitus also said he would not make changes to the ownership or operation of the municipal golf course at this time. He said the golf course and airport had been topics of discussion for many years, but he feels that both entities are assets to the community and add value. 

“The operation of both will continue to be topics of discussion with council evaluating various options to make each less costly to operate,” Whitus said. “What form that may take is unlikely to be determined until the pandemic has subsided and potential partners are in less turbulent waters.”