By Debbie Adams
Members of Vinton Town Council, Vinton Public Works, other town staff, and even this newspaper, frequently receive complaints about the condition of Mountain View Road.
Thanks to revenues from Pari-mutuel taxes now being collected in Vinton through Rosie’s Gaming Emporium, there may be a remedy to the Mountain View Road issue sooner rather than later. Pari-mutuel tax revenue from Rosie’s has thus far exceeded the budget expectations of the town.
In addition, much-needed security improvements for the Municipal Building may also be added, as a result of the new tax revenue.
The problem is that Mountain View Road doesn’t just need to be repaved– in many sections it needs to be completely rebuilt. This process will involve costs of at least $1,000,000—yes, one million dollars–for the section which runs from the Roanoke County line to Washington Avenue. Engineers are currently at work finalizing cost estimates.
Public Works Director Joey Hiner briefed council on plans to submit an application for matching funds through the VDOT Revenue Sharing Program in which the town and state would share the costs 50/50, dollar for dollar, or more specifically $500,000/$500,000. The application is due on October 1, 2019, but the funding, if approved, won’t be available until July 2021. The pre-application for funding for the project has already been approved.
Hiner told council at their August 20 meeting, that the failure in many sections of Mountain View Road is in the base of the road, in the subgrade; in some sections there is no sub-base, just dirt underneath the asphalt. There may be underlying drainage issues as well.
The road has an unusually high AADT (annual average daily traffic) for a residential street–4000 cars per day travel the road. Simply repaving the road would be costly and pavement would most likely remain in good condition for a year to 18 months unless the underlying problems are addressed.
Hiner said Public Works may be able to take on some of the reconstruction work on Mountain View in-house or as smaller projects to save money.
Town Manager Barry Thompson reminded those present that funds from the new revenue source of Pari-mutuel taxes are being set aside in the amount of $350,000 in a special fund designated for the Mountain View project, and that more money will be available in the future to supplement those funds.
Human Resources Director Donna Collins, Assistant Public Works Director William “Bo” Herndon, and Police Chief Tom Foster updated council on recommended security improvements for the Municipal Building which they had been briefed on in prior meetings.
The town is cognizant of the importance of safety for its employees and has been reviewing options for implementation of additional security improvements to the building. Recent incidents in Virginia Beach and across the nation, have only increased the safety concerns.
Council approved a resolution which will appropriate funds from Pari-mutuel tax revenue to a newly created Capital Fund account to cover an estimated cost not to exceed $100,000 for security improvements. The entire Municipal Building could be locked down in case of an emergency situation.
The funds would cover installation of ballistic glass in the Treasurer’s office and in Planning and Zoning; new doors and frames installed in hallways on each side of council chambers with tempered glass; several new surveillance cameras; access controls for several doors, including the main council chamber doors; door and desk video entry stations; and panic buttons and strobes.
In other business, council issued a proclamation recognizing the William Byrd High School Girls Softball team and their coaches for winning the first State Championship in school history. The team finished their season with an overall record of 20 wins and six losses earning themselves a trip to the state finals where they defeated three-time defending champions from Woodgrove High School by a score of 3 to 2.
Coach Greg Barton who has led the team for 12 years was named both VHSL State and Region 4D Coach of the Year. He is assisted by coaches Mike Andrews, Eric Thomas, Scott Whitehead, Cassie Brammer, Todd Maxey, Allen Wood, Melissa Vaughan, and manager Carson Wood.
Coach Barton noted that this has been “a special group of young ladies. They are battlers and great kids. It’s hard to win a state championship.” He thanked the town and the community for their support of the team which “has been unreal.”
Player Megan Grant was named both VHSL and Region 4D Player of the Year and Region 4D First Team; Sydney Burton and Jada Karnes were named to the VHSL First Team All-State and Region 4D First Team; Lexi Powell was named Region 4D First and Second Team; and Erin Courtemanche and Bri Hodges were named to Region 4D Second Team.
Other players include Keely Hoal, Maddy Tuck, Logan Pakela, Morgan Webb, Morgan Icard, Rachel Cruff, and Hallie Cox.
The Town of Vinton Finance Department was awarded their 23rd Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2018. The CAFR is the highest form of recognition in government accounting and financial reporting. The town earned its first CAFR in 1995.
Councilwoman Janet Scheid thanked Finance Director Anne Cantrell and the staff of the Finance Department for being “so professional and so thorough. I feel we have the best Finance Department in the state; we put so much trust and faith in what you all do.”
Principal Planner Nathan McClung briefed council on proposed changes to the Noise Ordinance. He stated that over the years there has been an economic shift to more of a service-based economy throughout the Valley, including Vinton, to focus on entertainment, recreation, food/beverage service, and experiences.
“Revitalization of downtown areas and commercial corridors has caused a major shift in the demand for businesses to remain open later into the nighttime hours,” said McClung. “Local governments have responded to this demand by changing their noise ordinances to allow for later hours of operation for various types of uses, events, and activities. In fact, Vinton is currently the only locality in the Roanoke Valley that does not have its noise ordinance start time beginning at 10 p.m.” The start time in Vinton is currently 9 p.m. Revisions would shift the time to 10 p.m.
Suggested revisions to the town Noise Ordinance making it more technical, practical, and accessible will codify, modernize, and optimize the regulations and allow for Vinton businesses, public services, and events to remain competitive in the valley.
Town Council will still be able to grant noise variances, and make stipulations for individual requests. Council will take action on the resolution at their September 3 meeting.
Cantrell presented a report from the Finance Committee which included the June 2019 Financial Report. Revenues continue to exceed expenditures in the General Fund, Utility Fund, and Stormwater Fund. She stated that the cash fund “has the highest balance we have seen for a long time.”
Business licenses, personal property taxes, Pari-mutuel taxes, and sales taxes are above budget expectations.
Cantrell also presented a “Utility Rate Increase Calendar” which involves several work sessions on utility rates throughout the fall, a public hearing on rate increases, RFP’s for new meters, installation dates for the meters, and the issuing of the first bills with the increase in July 2020, if approved.
Council convened in closed meetings to discuss acquisition of property in the downtown area and litigation.