By Alex Bridges
New Market leaders took steps this week to boost the town's image, plan for the future and award staff for the holidays.
Town Council approved changes to the current fiscal budget associated with the creation of and funding for a new part-time position. Town Manager Evan Vass said Wednesday that with the council's approval he hopes to advertise the new events and marketing director position soon.
Council backed an increase in the transient occupancy tax from 4 to 5 percent. The town will use the additional revenue collected through the levy from its three hotels and one bed-and-breakfast to fund the new position. The increase brings New Market's tax rate in line with many of the towns in the region. As Vass noted, many of the towns along Interstate 81 collect a 5 percent tax.
Council held a public hearing on the rate increase in November. Its action Monday increases the revenue and spending projections for Feb. 1 through June 30 by $8,750. Vass noted that he hopes to conduct interviews for the position in January and to hire someone in February or March.
Also at its regular meeting, council approved a recommendation to pay each of the town's 19 full-time employees a Christmas bonus of $100, and approved the town's 5-year Capital Improvement Plan. The plan lists future needs but does not include unforeseen or emergency expenses.
"It's not exhaustive and it doesn't commit council to anything," Vass said. "It simply provides a spending plan for a five-year outlook."
Vass noted that he has heard people call the plan a wish list. "It is not a wish list. ... Although it doesn't commit, it certainly does identify those capital acquisition that are anticipated over the next five years."
As indicated in the plan, the town would install new sidewalk along U.S. 211 East at a cost of $350,000 and possibly covered in fiscal 2016. The project would provide for the design, permits and construction funding for sidewalk along the route between Congress Street and an end point near the current Life Care facility. The town applied for funds through the Virginia Department of Transportation cost-sharing program in anticipation of receiving state aid, though that would not be available to July 1 at the earliest. The town's share of the project is estimated at $177,000.
The plan also includes projects for the police and public works departments such as vehicle replacement and equipment purchases, improvements to the municipal building, drainage facilities along John Sevier Road, upgrades to the fitness trail in the community park and to the pool bathhouse
Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or firstname.lastname@example.org