The Strasburg Town Council discussed the town’s capital improvement plan for the next fiscal year during a work session on Monday night.
A total of about $4.5 million in projects across the three funds are proposed and comprise about $3.1 million in the general fund, $1.1 million in water and $300,000 in sewer.
Among the projects in the general fund are about $2.5 million for the Borden Mowery Drive extension, which would be paid for with a bond and Virginia Department of Transportation Revenue Sharing grant at a 50-50 split.
Installing wayfinding signs at $300,000 is expected to be paid with revenue from recent housing development proffer agreements, and boat launch improvements at about $50,000 next year and $50,000 the following year will be paid through a grant reimbursement from DuPont.
Installation of an Americans with Disability Act compliant path at the town park and installation of a storage shed at the town square at a cost of about $15,000 this year are expected to be paid out of the general fund. The general fund is budgeted to end this year with about $2.6 million.
In the water fund, projects include replacing all water meters to make them of an identical reading type at a cost of about $950,000. Completing designs for enhancing the water main line leading to Sandy Hook Elementary School for increased fire flows is expected to cost $30,000 next year.
Funding for both projects would come out of the water fund’s savings, which is budgeted to be $2.9 million at the end of the year. “Strongly” seeing if Shenandoah County could chip in on the waterline increase payments since town residents pay both local and county taxes was requested by Councilwoman Taralyn Nicholson.
For both the water and sewer fund expenses, there may be an opportunity to pay them with about $6 million the town is expecting to receive from the recent $1.9 trillion federal American Rescue Plan passed earlier this year, Town Manager Wyatt Pearson said.
A project for a second water tower is expected to be put off until the 2024-25 fiscal year, with work in the next two fiscal years being done to acquire land and design for it, Pearson said.
Three vehicles are proposed to be purchased next year, including a 2021 Ford Utility vehicle, a public works bucket truck and a public works skid steer that have aged to the point of increased maintenance costs. Payment is expected to come out of their respective funds and through a three-year commercial loan, Pearson said.
Replacement of six other vehicles was denied, put off for future years or scheduled for repair, Pearson presented.
Several other projects, including the Fort Hill Tank lead abatement project, supervisory control and data acquisition equipment for the water system, junction water tank rehabilitation, Oxbow wet well coating and junction one lift station replacement, costing a total of $247,607, are also proposed. Work on the wastewater treatment plant building and system for removing solid waste was not included in next year’s proposal.
Other projects not included in the proposal are a Crystal Hill connector, Northern Shenandoah Business Park Phase II infrastructure improvements, the rails to trails project, about $10 million in underground infrastructure improvements of various water and sewer pipes, the Green Spine Trail and public safety building work beyond a needs assessment study included in the operating budget.
Improvements to Washington Street near Stonewall Street were asked to be considered by Nicholson and if it can be done, making the Washington and Massanutten street intersection two-way was asked to be considered by Councilwoman Emily Reynolds.
Discussion on the new positions for next year proposed at the last council meeting also occurred Tuesday and included holding off on an assistant town manager position until a new permanent town manager is hired after Pearson leaves for a new job in Frederick County on May 3, and more detail substantiating the requests for them. The town appears to be going through a cycle of bringing back the positions and then reducing or removing them, Vice Mayor Ken Cherrix and Nicholson noted.
The council will next discuss the proposed budget and capital project list at the Finance and Personnel Committee meeting on April 15 and the work session on April 19 before amending the proposal for the public hearing and adoption in May. Removing the $3 minimum bill increase for sewer bills is something Nicholson requested to discuss at the next committee meeting.
In other action Monday night, the council also:
• Decided to stick with installing a no grilling beyond this point sign at the cattle gate and town pool of the town park primarily out of safety concerns. The move is not intended to target any one group of people, Cherrix acknowledged after a resident brought community concerns of that up to the council.
• Received updated cost of repairing the disconnected pipe behind the Jalisco Restaurant building on East King Street to be about $14,000 more than that $33,745 cost initially proposed because of complexities leading to higher labor costs. The Virginia Department of Transportation will pay about $15,000 of the project as the town will use stormwater management and contingency funds.
• Heard a presentation about the Discover Strasburg 2025 initiative from Ashley Shickle of the Northern Shenandoah Valley Regional Commission that seeks to enhance the quality of life and diversity of the local economy, supporting residents and businesses alike in line with council goals of prosper, protect, plan and strengthen.
• Entered a closed-door session to discuss the soon-to-be-vacated town manager position by Pearson.