Edinburg Council holds first reading of new budget

EDINBURG – A public hearing was held Tuesday for Town Council’s first reading of the proposed budget for 2016-17.

If approved, the $838,458 general fund budget will be slightly higher than the current budget of $838,090.

The proposed budget, which would go into effect July 1, calls for an increase in the enterprise fund, which covers water- and sewer-related expenses. The enterprise fund for 2016-17 would be $620,039. Last year’s amended budget allowed for $575,257. The difference is the result of higher costs for water testing.

Also included in the new budget were the water rate increases that were approved by Town Council at the end of March at an emergency meeting. Water rates will increase by $2 from $24.75 to $26.75 per month for 0-3,000 gallons for in-town customers. For out of town customers, the price per month for the same range of water usage would increase by about $3 to $40.13.

Customers would also see sewer increase rates. Any sewer usage from 0-3,000 gallons in town would cost $27, up from $24. Out-of-town customers would pay $40.50 for the same range of usage, an increase from $36.

Property, personal and vehicle licensing taxes will remain unchanged.

“We’ll have a final reading at the next meeting and adoption,” said Mayor Dan Harshman after the first reading of the budget.

Council also discussed the establishment of a fine for residents who fail to purchase a town vehicle license decal within the grace period. Council discussed the idea that any violators should be required to pay a $25 ticket, either a $5 or $10 late fee and be charged $25 for the decal.

Also on the agenda was discussion of the Pennoni Engineering Report that was conducted on Edinburg’s wastewater treatment facility. The cost of the assessment was $5,000, Harshman said.

The issue plaguing the plant has been its ability to comply with the Department of Environmental Quality’s standards for chlorine disinfectant usage to combat bacteria. The plant has been struggling to keep its bacteria levels low enough to meet standards without using too much chlorine.

The Pennoni report recommended that the town perform another inspection, the price for which would be similar.

“I’m not too sure we need to take this step,” said Harshman. “If the suggestion is that we continue to work with Earl [Southerly of Pennoni Engineering], then yes, we probably need to take that step. If that suggestion is not made, I wonder if we can’t take it from here and do some investigating ourselves.”

Capt. Wesley Dellinger of the Shenandoah County Sheriff’s Office reported that Edinburg received 399 calls to service over the past month, down from 537 last month. However, as Dellinger explained, that figure may be somewhat misleading, as one officer was required for emergency custody order and was unavailable for call service.

“Basically, they’re sitting in a hospital or some other location for six or eight hours of their shift,” said Dellinger. “That significantly decreases some of the calls, obviously. They’re not doing property checks and extra patrols and those things.”

Also at the meeting, council discussed the purchase of a new lawnmower for the town’s cemetery. A new mower, with a trade-in, would be $1.203.

The Edinburg swimming pool will open on Memorial Day weekend, said Councilwoman Fay Wymer. It will be open on weekends until school lets out for the summer.

Plans to build a Dollar General store at the site of the C.E. Thompson building are moving forward. The town received the Virginia Department of Transportation’s final approval on the project and demolition is set to begin soon. The store’s original completion date was set for August, but now November is the goal said Harshman.

Contact staff writer Nathan Budryk at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or nbudryk@nvdaily.com.