Town Manager Barry Thompson and Finance Director Anne Cantrell briefed Vinton Town Council on the FY2018-2019 budget at the meeting on April 17. The budget for all funds including the General Fund, the Grant Fund, the Utility Fund, and the Stormwater Fund totals $12,141,962— a decrease of 4.64 percent from the current fiscal year.
The foundation for the budget is the expectation that Vinton residents have for “quality services, prompt snow removal, professional law enforcement, professional land use and development guidance, quality community and recreation facilities, clean and well-maintained streets, quality neighborhoods, dependable water and sewer service, responsive solid waste and recycling collection, and many other quality municipal services.”
Council will be reviewing the presented budget at subsequent meetings, hold a public hearing on May 15, and vote to approve the finalized budget on June 5.
The Capital Improvement Project funding recommended by the town manager in the proposed budget includes the lease purchase of police vehicles ($64,656) and replacement of the Boom Bulk Refuse Truck ($27,483) from the General Fund, with $100,800 financed by the Utility Fund, to include radio read meters, a full-size utility 4×4 pick-up, computer replacement, generator connections at the Mountain View and Toddsbury Pump Stations and the Stonebridge Well, and installation of doors on the heated bay.
Proposed budget changes include an increase to the Professional and Business Service category rates and the gross receipt amount subject to tax in all categories to match neighboring jurisdictions, elimination of one position in the Fire/EMS department (due to a retirement), one position unfunded in the police department, and one position unfunded in Public Works.
Cantrell explained that 54 percent of General Fund revenues come from local taxes (meals taxes, consumer utility taxes, and business licenses) and state sales taxes. The real estate tax rate (7 cents per $100 assessed value) along with personal property and machinery and tools tax rate (both $1 per $100 assessed value) will remain the same. The bulk of General Fund expenditures (69 percent) goes to fund Public Works and Public Safety.
Revenues in the Utility Fund come almost totally from water and wastewater payments by customers.
At the conclusion of the budget presentation, Mayor Brad Grose expressed his regrets that the proposed budget does not include a pay raise for town employees in the coming fiscal year. He, Vice Mayor Matt Hare, and Councilwoman Sabrina McCarty thanked the Finance Committee and the Town Leadership Team, along with staff, for their hard work in developing the new budget— a “real team effort.”
In other business, council heard reports from various departments and committees. Officer Jeremy Shrewsbury was introduced as the Police Officer of the Month for March.
Vinton First Aid Crew Chief Wayne Guffey reported that the volunteers were on duty for 2406 man-hours in the month of March. A unit was in service 100 percent of the volunteer time (from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. on weekdays and 24 hours per day on weekends). The call breakdown for March included 120 Advanced Life Support calls, 39 Basic Life Support calls, 16 fire calls, 11 accidents, 10 service calls, five assistant rescue calls (generally in Bedford County or Roanoke City), three rehab calls, one standby, and 1 tech rescue. Of those calls, 130 were in Vinton, 40 in East Roanoke County, four in Bedford, one in Roanoke City, and 25 in sections of Roanoke County other than East County.
There were a total of 120 transports in March— 58 by career staff and 62 by volunteer staff. The fractile response time for the First Aid Crew (the time between the call being received and arrival at the scene) was 9.50 minutes when 12 minutes is considered standard. The reaction time between the emergency call being received and a unit being dispatched was under two minutes.
Volunteer Fire Department Chief Richard Oakes advised council that they have two new members in the process, a total of 146 man-hours in March, and that the recruitment video by RVTV will soon be complete.
Assistant Town Manager Pete Peters briefed council on a contract to accept a $30,000 grant from DHCD for an Urban Housing Rehabilitation reimbursement planning grant. Action will be taken on the grant at a May council meeting. The purpose of the grant is to provide funding for planning comprehensive neighborhood improvements, including housing and infrastructure needs, for neighborhoods adjacent to downtown Vinton.
Town Executive Assistant Susan Johnson presented a report from the first meeting of the newly formed Highway Safety Committee. There was discussion about traffic safety at the Vinyard Road/Hardy Road intersection, a request for an additional stop sign at the intersection of North Blair, Ruddell, and Berkley Roads (not recommended), and a sight distance/visibility issue at Virginia Avenue and South Maple.
McCarty presented the report from the Public Works committee who also considered the Vinyard Road/Hardy Road intersection with determination that the least costly solution is a change in the timing of the traffic signal sequence. Fire hydrants with low pressure and out-of-date parts are being replaced (four so far this year).