New Market Town Council approves budget

NEW MARKET – Town Council unanimously voted Monday to adopt its proposed budget for the 2016-17 fiscal year.

The town has budgeted $1,536,250 for its general fund and $1,883,600 for water and sewer expenses. The general fund remained debt-free and the water and sewer fund has an annual debt repayment of $565,200.

The budget is similar to this year’s budget, with one noteworthy difference being in sewer and water rates. Water rates increased by 2 percent and sewer rates increased by 4 percent. The budget’s overall 3-percent increase from last year’s budget was explained by an increase in general fund capital project expenditures.

In-town customers will pay $9.91 for the first 1,700 gallons of water used. Over 1,700 gallons would cost in-town residents $4.40 per 1,000 gallons. Out-of-town customers would be charged $17.44 for the first 1,700 gallons of water used and $7.70 for every 1,000 gallons after that.

In-town customers would pay $30.70 for the first 1,700 gallons of sewer usage and $14.94 for every subsequent 1,000 gallons. Out-of-town customers would be charged $53.73 for the first 1,700 gallons of sewer usage and $26.16 for every 1,000 gallons used after that.

Town Council also voted down, 4-2, a motion to increase the town’s contribution to the New Market Area Chamber of Commerce for New Market Heritage Weekend. The chamber had originally requested $1,500, but New Market’s personnel and finance committee recommended $1,000, said Town Manager Mike Ritchie.

Councilman Tim Palmer and Councilwoman Peggy Harkness voted in favor of a $1,200 donation, with Councilmen Eddie Litten, Gary Comer, Scott Wymer and Vice Mayor John Blosser voting nay. The $1,000 contribution was then voted upon and approved 5-1. Blosser voted against it.

Additionally, Todd Carr, owner of the Village at Smith Creek subdivision, spoke to council on the topic of building a townhouse development. A text amendment was recently proposed that altered New Market’s allotments for housing units on cul-de-sac streets.

Prior to the text amendment, the town allowed cul-de-sac streets 700 feet or shorter in length, and with a maximum of 25 housing units. The text amendment established a proportional rate. The text amendment allows for more housing units if the street is longer than 700 feet, but the 25 units per 700 feet density ratio must be maintained. The road in question is around 1,100 feet long, and would therefore be allowed to support about 36 housing units.

Town Council unanimously voted to indefinitely table the discussion, reasoning that Carr should provide more specific plans for the project.

Town Attorney Jason Ham said that several entities, including the Virginia Department of Transportation, disapprove of dead-end or cul-de-sac streets, for traffic and public safety reasons.

“My understanding of it is that large numbers of high density homes on dead-end streets is not something that we want from a 911 perspective and from a traffic perspective,” said Ham. “VDOT doesn’t like that. That’s the point … In terms of a town planning perspective, we don’t really want really long dead-end streets – harder to get into, harder to get out of.”

Council members indicated they are not necessarily opposed to the development but would like to see a clearer picture for what would be built.

“First of all,” said Harkness, “we want to figure out a way to make this work … This (text amendment) was not arbitrary and we did have a number of homeowner complaints both from that direct subdivision, but also from the surrounding community … We do want to work to a solution that allows you to build there.”

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