Middletown reviews budget plans

MIDDLETOWN – Town Council members discussed improvement projects and reviewed the 2016-2017 budget at their April work session.

Council asked questions of three prospective candidates for the town’s planning commission who were in attendance on Monday: Frank Meres, Daryl Terrill and Shayla Wharton. Each expressed their desire for smart growth and maintaining historical integrity of the town with revitalization.

With recent notifications of hazards from businesses, council discussed a backlog of town sidewalk maintenance. Public Works committee chairman George Smith said that he and superintendent Donald Welsh would be walking the town’s sidewalks and prioritizing areas that need repairs into three categories.

Councilor Jeff Pennington voiced his objection to removing old trees along the sidewalk that add to the town’s streetscape. Other council members said that removal would most likely be inevitable, with roots continuing to damage walkways and causing safety hazards.

Personnel and Finance committee chairman Carole Snyder Jones introduced discussion about the duties and payment of a town manager. She suggested that the responsibilities should only warrant a part-time position with daily hours for resident accessibility.

“What I’m suggesting is that we budget it…and then we can kind of table this until after the budget is settled, and then we can bring it back out right after the budget and then decide what we want to do,” she said.

Mayor Charles Harbaugh IV said the town manager would take day-to-day town operation and administration concerns off of other town staff and the council.

During budget discussion, Harbaugh said the town should expect more revenue than was projected from several sources. Council also discussed creating a new budget item devoted to costs for training sessions.

Pennington gave the first and second readings of an ordinance to repeal or amend several sections of the town code in regards to planning commission operation. He also introduced discussion on re-enacting a historic district ordinance, mentioning several properties in town with historical value that have been demolished recently.

“We’ve lost at least one structure in three administrations for each administration,” he said. “So there’s a trend going on, and I think we need to stop that trend.”

“We’ve tried to make this so that it does as little damage to somebody’s property rights while giving us a standard for upkeeping, maintaining and preserving these old houses,” he said later.

Councilors discussed the possibility of holding an open forum for residents whose property could be classified as historic.

The council also spoke with Ray Steele and among themselves about funding for a future veterans’ memorial in the town park. Steele said a memorial committee will be meeting to develop the plans and council considered setting aside part of the estimated $35,000 cost to begin work soon.

Contact staff writer Rachel Mahoney at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or rmahoney@nvdaily.com