Radio project resolution approved

Published 9:00 am Thursday, June 23, 2022

Cumberland Board of Supervisors authorized a resolution to help build debt capacity for the county to help move forward with the new radio system project at its Tuesday, June 14, meeting.

In March 2022, Davenport & Company LLC conducted a preliminary review of the financial health of the County. The County did this to make sure they are saving the taxpayers as much as possible and wanted to look for ways to build debt capacity, which is the total debt the county can take and repay, in response to the immediate need of improving the radio system.

“Nothing keeps you up at night more than public safety, I know that’s the way I feel,” said County Administrator Derek Stamey. “And knowing that our fire, EMS folks and sheriff’s deputies can talk to each other is of paramount of importance to me.”

The county worked with Davenport to carve out enough savings annually within the debt service to absorb the cost of the radio system without any additional cost to the operating funds related to the county. In doing this, the county was able to retire some debt on the backend.

This resolution is an amended agreement of an agreement previously made with SunTrust bank in September 2012, and is now with its successor Truist Bank.

Betty Myers signed up to speak at the hearing. She voiced her concern that to her knowledge this is the second major refinancing done with this board.

“Are we really helping us out or are we just extending our debts that our future generations have to pay?” she asked.

According to Board Chairman Brian Stanley, this will reduce the interest rates of the debt from 4.5% to 3.37% and the bonds are repayable in whole with no impact.

“Although it might seem like we are furthering ourselves into more debt, what’s the cost of a life?” said Ronald Tavernier. “Our fire and emergency services cannot communicate with each other and the sheriff’s department. They cannot communicate with mutual aid responding departments from outside the county. We are in serious trouble in certain parts of this county.”

The money saved with this new financing plan will go toward the $2 million for the new radio system, which will help the first responders be able to quickly and efficiently communicate and respond to calls. Currently, parts of the county are dead zones.

The Board unanimously approved the resolution. The result took effect immediately.

IN OTHER BUSINESS:

• Chairman Brian Stanley made a statement about the Envigo dog breeding facility in Cumberland. The board does not condone animal mistreatment of any kind and supports the efforts to make sure animals are treated humanely.

• Library director Lisa Davis from the Cumberland County Library gave an update. They received a new shipment of COVID-19 tests for those who need them. The library also received a grant to pay for two-thirds of the cost of new heat pumps and an assessment will take place on Friday, July 8 for installation. The library is waiting for approval from the Library of Virginia for a privacy booth. This is like a phone booth, but is sound proof so people can use it for telehealth, job interviews and other private calls.

• The board of supervisors voted unanimously to appropriate funds totaling $40.1 million for the fiscal year 2023 budget.

• Stephany Johnson, planning director and zoning administrator, gave an update for the month of May. The department issued 22 zoning permits, nine agreements in lieu of an erosion and sediment control plan for residential dwellings and four farm structure permits. The department also approved five minor subdivision surveys and two surveys of existing lots. Staff also conducted three commercial erosion and sediment control inspections and three code enforcement site visits.

• The board unanimously approved a temporary use permit for Normal Byler of 1875 Cumberland Road for a manufactured home to be used as a temporary second dwelling.

• Supervisors voted to adopt the employee manual revisions. These include adding a code of ethics and diversity statement, updating the holiday calendar and recruitment and selection policy.

• The board voted to reappoint Jerry Seal and Michael Ross to the local Department of Social Services Board.

• Supervisors voted to give County Administrator Derek Stamey permission to sign an agreement with Firefly and Thomas Jefferson Planning District for the broadband initiative.

• The board held a public hearing for a conditional use permit for Sorenspeed LLC Automotive Repair Shop at 6535 Blenheim Road, Powhatan. This permit allows applicant Eric Sorensen to put an auto repair shop on his property. No one signed up to speak and it passed unanimously.