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Council debates utility rates, worker bonuses

By Alex Bridges -- abridges@nvdaily.com

STRASBURG -- Opinions still vary widely among Strasburg Town Council over whether to give employees a one-time bonus or a pay raise.

Town Manager Judson Rex's proposed fiscal 2013 budget includes a maximum $63,000 which would allow Strasburg to give its workers a one-time bonus of up to $1,000. Not all council members support the proposal as displayed during their work session on the budget Monday.

Councilman Scott Terndrup said the amount equates to a 2 percent pay increase which he supported over a bonus. Staff had asked for the salary raise to implement merit-pay procedures as directed by council.

"So to me this is just one more example of us directing staff to do this and then we not funding what we told them to do ..." Terndrup said. "To think that the cost of living has not gone up for everybody is just nuts."

The town could afford to give its employees a 1 percent cost of living increase, Terndrup said. The councilman also criticized the proposed spending of $30,000 needed to build a stormwater retention pond for the Madison Heights subdivision.

"I think it's just a shifting of our priorities so is it people or stuff?" Terndrup added. "So what is your priority? Personally, I'm with the people."

Councilman Robert Baker said he opposed a bonus of any amount, noting some residents don't receive a cost of living increase. Councilman Rich Orndorff echoed Baker and concurred with Terndrup. Councilmen Richard Redmon and John "Red" Hall Jr. expressed support for giving workers a bonus, though Hall indicated he would not want to see the amount exceed $1,000.

Council members touched on the Downtown Streetscape project which drew varied opinions.

Councilman Justin Ritenour said Strasburg needs to go further.

"If we don't address the other issues that go beyond the sidewalk, that actually creep into the businesses, in their checkbooks, we're gonna have a beautiful sidewalk and beautiful streetlights and no businesses," Ritenour said. "So it doesn't stop at the sidewalk for us.

We need to get up the guts to do something besides pass another stinkin' ordinance that says your sign can't be larger than 12 inches by six inches and piling more and more regulations on these people because I am a businessman and I will tell you right now if I ever get an opportunity to move out of this town I will, and that's something that this council needs to take seriously."


Nice Mr. Ritenour, don't let the door hit you in the back side on the way out of town.

With a business tax rate of 13% and a meals tax of 5%, I don't see how anyone can stay in business in Strasburg.

Finally, one of the councilmen has the guts to tell it like it is. The town has been going down this keeping-up-with-Joneses road attitude for to long on the citizen's dollar. All they know how to do is mandate and tax to support their pie in the sky ideas. Ritenour is not the only one with the get out of town attitude. A lot of the citizens feel that way. Count the empty houses in town. Most of the people that own property are to old to leave and are stuck here for now.

I have lived here most of my life and what I see is a town without the people's needs met first, instead it's an ever increasing heavy handed goverment controlled town strangled with regulations. The town has survived all these years with citizens using common sense. Now we have a bunch of design-a-town know it alls. If nothing changes. The town is going to look like a corpse before long, all dressed up with no place to go.

Correction to your comment: the Town's business license tax is 0.13%, not 13%. Also, the meals tax is not charged to the business; it is collected directly from the consumer just like sales tax.

Remember way back when we payed $25 for a town sticker? We were told it was only till the school was paid for. Twenty years later we are still paying for the invisable sticker. We were told recyceling would pay for itself in a year, but we are still paying for it. Now they want to raise water and sewer again. I have not had a raise in 4 years. I have to decide what I really need from the grocery store just to pay my bills. I would love to have a steak but I cant afford it. I have to settle for a Mcdouble cheeseburger off the dollar menu at Mcdonalds when I want beef. The town of Strasburg needs to stop wasting our money on things they want. When times are tough you only buy what you need.We dont need anymore flowers, sidewalks, donations to Hometown Strasburg crap. We should be trying to get water and sewer lower so people can afford to live here. This town is going to hell in a heartbeat.

Double Amen to Noffy'say and jm!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I agree with many of the comments here, but to be fair the town is not to blame for the water and sewer rates (except perhaps not starting the building sooner.) The EPA (federal government) and DEQ (state government) have MANDATED certain water and sewer regulations and the town must meet them. If you're upset over the UNFUNDED mandates from the EPA and DEQ you need to get in touch with the State reps and the Federal reps and tell them to pay for their mandates or get rid of them. Water quality rates that cannot be met (at the present time), huge fines, and sediment credits are to blame for your rates. And the quality standards are based on made up numbers and computer models. With changing standards every year (that are unattainable) the town cannot keep up AND wait until we have to clean up the rain water run off. More rate increases. Please put the blame where it belongs...Washington DC and Richmond.

While your comments on the Chesapeake bay watershed mandates are well-founded Kim, the agenda has more or less been set. I think, your efforts should be more directed closer to town and the direction which it is heading. I am not suggesting the water mandates are not important, but if you plan on being elected stick closer to things in town you can change for now. Talk about their great bargains on buildings, roads to nowhere, and a streetscape we can't afford. Leave the historical signs at each end of town and drop the mandates. Let the town grow normally.
Just my opinion, for what it's worth.

Noffy'say, believe me I can go one after the other on unnecessary spending by the town council and hold them accountable. I only bring up this issue because people continue to blame the town for the rates and it's just not so. I hope as a council member I can look toward the future and fixing mistakes of the past instead of constantly reliving the problems. I believe that there are many things that individuals can do and I hope to be able to inspire people to stand up for their rights instead of waiting for someone else to do it. I have a face book page for people to make comments and suggestions. I can talk better with you there--KimBishopStrasburgTownCouncil. What are your thoughts on what the council should do or not do?

Kim, you ask my thoughts on what the council should do or not do?
The only thing I can think of at this time, is maybe, they should be concerned about keeping their positions on the council.

I understand you are not in the Historic District, however, can you give some thoughts of how you feel about the new historic mandates, maintenance code and the proposed streetscape? Also, how would you approach new businesses comming to town?

After talking with the Town Manager about the historic mandates (which I was opposed to) he told me that the strictness that was originally desired has been gutted, and basically any homes and business can paint or put up siding or whatever, but new construction must meet a "look". For now I don't know exactly what that means, but I don't think it's too much of a stretch to have a guideline for businesses coming in (as long as it is not too strict.)
From the few meetings I went to about the maintenance code it is an unfunded mandate from the State that towns can "tweek" which our town planner did. She changed some of the fines to less than the state wanted. I personally think that as long as someones property is not affecting the welfare of other citizens then the owner should have the right to live in what they choose, however if you move to a place that already has codes you must follow them (like on Crystal Hill we have certain things that we can and cannot do.) I think people should have pride in their property, but then again what I think is "nice" could be different for my neighbor. As little government interference as necessary is my view.
I hate the new street scape. I don't like the bump outs, I don't think anyone in their right mind would put maple trees surrounded by concrete (as their roots are very shallow), and I don't think that many citizens want it. However, these are things out of my control. They have been voted on and will be implemented before I get on. My idea of fixing the downtown would be to find a way to get business in and try and get locals to actually use the businesses. I think as businesses come in, and have the freedom to fix up the buildings, the natural progression would be a beautification of the town. However, again I do not know all the rules and regs that govern those on council yet.
If the citizens won't frequent local business then business won't come here. I'd also like to get input from the young people about what they would like to see in town. Fresh ideas are what this town needs. Quit looking to mistakes of the past and look to making the future better.
If you have facebook go to my page KimBishopStrasburgTownCouncil and like it and post these kinds of questions. I would love to get a dialogue going and that is a more appropriate place.
I hope I answered your questions.

You are wrong Kim. The town of Strasburg is to blame for high water and sewer. I can tell you this , you will never be voted in for town counsil as long as you keep sharing your thoughts on anything to do with this town. Everything seems to be over your head . Just my opinion.

Kim, please move or stop with your opinions

Thanks for you reply Kim. I am not on facebook.... Sorry.

Thanks for you reply Kim. I am not on facebook.... Sorry.

@ jm. At least she gives her opinion, just like you have. You may not agree with her, but try asking other council members their opinion on what they think and on their decisions that they made in the past. The answer at best sounds like a used car salesman pitch. Town citizens inherently wont ask questions and yet they are the first to complain.


I do believe that most citizens in this town couldn't tell you where the watershed begins or ends. There concern is the immediate impact on their wallet. The towns inability or lack of trying to fix this issue years ago has everyone concerned. There's nothing wrong with discussing the watershed but a lot of citizens don't see that translating to fixing the problem locally.

Thanks for your input jm. How would you fix the water and sewer problems and who is responsible for the high prices and why? I look forward to your knowledge.

Dear Kim, I want to apoligze for my last two comments. I had a bad day at work. I thought I would unwind on the internet. I do get fed up with this town of Strasburg. That is not your fault. I am truly sorry I took my frustration out on you. Sincerely, JM

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