Town budget process moves forward

The town of Woodstock is closing in on approving its budget for the fiscal year 2016, following a public hearing Tuesday night.

With no residents speaking at the hearing, Town Manager Reid Wodicka said that the town will work toward finalizing the budget by the end of the month.

“We have a very good process that elicits comment and input from every section of the organization,” Wodicka said. “We give members of the council quite a bit of opportunity to comment and make changes.”

One of the few major changes will be to the town’s water rates for in-town and out-of-town water use. Pending the budget’s approval, residents that use varying amounts of water will see different increases.

Residents with a meter measuring less than 1 inch with see a 65-cent increase to the current rate of $23.92 for the first 2,500 gallons used.

For the next 47,500 gallons used, residents will see an uptick of $1.61 per 1,000 gallons from the current rate of 8.21 per 1,000 gallons. The next 50,000 gallons will see an increase in $1.41 per 1,000 gallons from a rate of 7.95 per 1,000 gallons.

All in all, Wodicka explained that the rate increases will provide the town with “about $150,000” that will work toward covering loans and expenses incurred after the county jail closed.

This proposed budget, Wodicka noted, is not too different from the approved budget from 2014, even though on paper, it increased from about $9.32 million to about $9.83 million.

Wodicka noted that “a fairly significant” portion of the increases in the 2016 budget come from a “capital project that is based on a loan.”

That loan for the project, which Wodicka noted is $500,000, means the budget is essentially only increasing by $12,000.

“We’ve made some significant shortcuts in the public utilities fund,” Wodicka said, noting that the town “made about $100,000 worth of cuts” last year.

“This year, we made another $50,000 in cuts before we did the [water] rate increase,” Wodicka added. “It’s not just that we’re jacking up the prices without tightening our belt a little bit.”

Also at the meeting, Woodstock resident Gary Rutz and Police Chief Eric Reiley were on-hand to present plaques to local businesses that donated money for the department’s automated external defibrillator (AED) program.

Through $7,270 in donations from local organizations such as the Woodstock Café and the Woodstock Rotary Club, Rutz helped provide the department with five new AED packs.

The program was the brainchild of Rutz back in October of 2014, as a response to noticing that the town’s police officers often arrived on-scene before other responders.

“When I realized they were the first ones on the scene, and some lives could be saved, I just thought it was a real good idea,” Rutz said.

Reiley said, “Our officers are on patrol 24 hours a day and, a lot of times, a call will come out and … there [may] be some type of medical assistance that we need to perform.”

The additional portable AED packs will give officers the ability to provide assistance beyond basic CPR in cases of cardiac arrest.

“These are instruments that we can use that could save someone’s life in those precious minutes before more advanced care gets there,” Reiley said. “I’m just thankful that we have one in every car now.”

With five in place, Rutz noted that they are working on getting a sixth AED pack.

Additional meeting notes:

• Autumnfest 5K Race

At Tuesday’s meeting, Beth Funkhouser, of the Woodstock Enhancements Committee, announced that the town will be holding a new 5K race at this year’s Shenandoah Autumnfest.

Funkhouser noted that the start-finish line will be located at the Wetzel Farm in town, with the route being “a loop that encompasses” streets around the town.

“If you participate in the race, you will get free entrance into Autumnfest in addition to a t-shirt and all of the usual race-day swag that we have,” Funkhouser added.

This year’s Autumnfest is slated for October 17 at the Woodstock Fairgrounds.

Contact staff writer Kevin Green at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or kgreen@nvdaily.com