STRASBURG – No one showed up for a Monday night public hearing to discuss the town’s $16,049,436 proposed fiscal 2020 budget, but Town Council members met for a work session to discuss tourism and recreational goals as they related to budget line items.
The discussion focused heavily on a part-time position held by the town’s marketing and events coordinator, which in the budget would be funded as a full-time position.
“The Economic Development Department and the Recreation Department are going to merge into one,” said Town Manager Wyatt Pearson, “and that position’s going to be doing a little bit more than events.”
The town clerk, who is also the human resources manager, is in charge of pool management duties, which would ideally become the responsibility of the Recreation Department.
“The economic development and marketing manager is also going to be involved in the management of the pool and all those other items that kind of get wrapped into this when we merge those two departments,” Pearson said.
The town’s Recreation Department has no existing employees, he later explained.
Mayor Rich Orndorff said merging the two departments would allow for more programming around town.
“If you had somebody that had more of a focus, you may have expanded programs,” Orndorff said. “We may be able to expand the hours at the pool.”
Pearson said he was influenced by community interest when considering the benefit of combining the two departments, and that he frequently hears from residents about the need for more programming locally.
“Recreation has always, ever since I’ve been here, been at the very top. Quality of place, quality of life is what small towns are all about, and that’s essentially what we’re trying to gear ourselves up to provide at the higher levels of service,” he said. “We’re trying to plan right now to do better on the recreation side of things.”
Council members Ken Cherrix and Taralyn Nicholson requested further information on the specifics of the job to better decide if they would fund a full-time position.
Nicholson questioned the amount of work a full-time, year-round parks employee would have.
“This is the only part of the budget that I’m really having a hard time with,” she said. “Before we pass the budget, I want to see who’s going to do what when.”
Cherrix agreed that he needs “visual representation” of what the job will involve.
Pearson said the town is investing $170,000 in the Recreation Department.
Other new positions proposed in the budget are part-time positions for code enforcement and administration for the Police Department, as well as a full- and part-time position to complete the Horticulture Crew in the Public Works Department, previously referred to as the grounds crew.
For the first time ever, the town will have a funded line item for Storm Water Management and Horticulture, according to a memorandum written by Pearson.
“While these are both small amounts of funding, these are duties and responsibilities that have been deferred in years past,” Pearson states in the document. The council has proposed $5,131,133 for the town’s General Fund, $2,765,147 for the Water Fund, $3,267,656 for the Sewer Fund, and $336,500 for the Trash Fund.
To view the proposed budget and read about changes, visit the town’s website at https://www.strasburgva.com/meetings. Click on the packet posted next to the Town Council work session dated April 29.
The council also discussed a line item of $34,800 in revenue made through the town’s Visitor’s Center, which wasn’t budgeted and involves money to be reimbursed to the Cedar Creek Battlefield Foundation for merchandise sold through the Visitor’s Center.
Councilwoman Jocelyn Vena expressed concerns around whether the Visitor’s Center impacts downtown tourism.
Barbara Plitt commented on travelers’ changing habits of using technology to find out tourism info, rather than potentially stopping at visitors’ centers.
Orndorff suggested council members might start with the economic development and marketing manager’s report to see whether the town’s Visitor’s Center is “a benefit to us” in terms of increased revenue to the town.
However, he said, “It’s not quantifiable to know if the Visitor’s Center is doing that or not.”
The next Strasburg Town Council meeting will be at 7 p.m. May 14 at Town Hall, 174 E. King St., where council plans to adopt the budget.
Council will hold its next work session on May 6, if needed. Check the town’s website for updates. If necessary, the council will meet again in June to complete budget discussions.
Attending the meeting were Town Manager Wyatt Pearson, Mayor Rich Orndorff, and council members Barbara Plitt, Ken Cherrix, S. John Massoud, Taralyn Nicholson, Emily Reynolds and Jocelyn Vena. Kim Bishop and Vice Mayor Scott Terndrup were absent.