The May 1 agenda for Vinton Town Council was packed with proclamations, briefings and action items.
Council proclaimed May as GBS and CIDP Awareness Month. GBS survivor Rick Forney, who serves as the local liaison for the GBS/CIDP Foundation International provides a link between patients, families, and medical personnel.
He explained that Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS) and Chronic Inflammatory Demyelinating Polyneuropathy (CIDP) are rare, paralyzing, and potentially catastrophic disorders of the peripheral nerves with unknown cause and unpredictable in length. He was affected by GBS with no warning at age 55. The aim of his organization is to educate the public on the disorders, to support educational research, and to emotionally support victims and their families.
The week of May 5-12 was designated as National Drinking Water Week.
“We in Vinton are blessed with an abundant supply of safe water,” said Public Works Director Joey Hiner. “We are also the beneficiaries of past generations who made the sacrifices to drill wells, erect the storage tanks, and build the distribution system that delivers water to us today. We have an obligation to future generations of citizens to make the necessary infrastructure investments to assure the long-term delivery of safe and reliable water.” Water delivers public health protection, support for the economy, fire protection, and quality of life.
Vinton Town Clerk and Administrative Assistant Susan Johnson was honored by council for her professionalism and dedicated service to the town as May 6-12 was proclaimed Municipal Clerks Week. Members of town council and Town Manager Barry Thompson attested to her invaluable service in Vinton emphasizing that local government could not function without clerks such as Johnson who provide a link between citizens and their governing bodies. Johnson said that she “is pleased to serve the citizens of the town.”
Vinton Police Sergeant Michael Caldwell was on hand to receive the proclamation declaring May 13-19 as National Police Week with May 15 as Peace Officers Memorial Day.
Students Tessa Yarbrough and Olivia Grisso asked council to consider adopting an Anti-Corruption Resolution, advocating for free and fair elections and campaign finance reform. They are members of the William Byrd High School Democracy Matters Club. Council will take action at the May 15 meeting on their resolution which will be a non-partisan, non-binding statement of support. Yarbrough stated that other versions of the resolution have been passed in nearby Roanoke City as well as in cities across the nation. She noted that local government as where democracy is found in most full force.
Annette Patterson, president and founder of The Advancement Foundation (TAF) and the Gauntlet Business Program and Competition, asked council to renew the lease between council and TAF for property located on the upper floor of the Health Department building on Pollard Street. The agreement will extend the lease through June 30, 2018, with a new lease brought back to council in June, effective July 1 to put the lease on a fiscal year basis. A proposed change is that TAF will assume responsibility for 50 percent of the electricity, gas, and water and sewer charges.
Mayor Brad Grose described Patterson as a “great asset to the town who has “revitalized the attitude of the town” through her positive approach and the numerous programs she has introduced to Vinton which have brought thousands of visitors to the town.
Planning and Zoning Director Anita McMillan briefed council on a Special Use Permit request from piano and voice teacher Beth Meador who would like to operate an in-home music studio at her home on Dillon Drive. A public hearing on her request will be held on May 15. Her business will be limited to no more than three vehicles at once in her driveway and no signage at all.
Deputy Fire and EMS Chief Chris Linkous presented council with proposed updates to the Town of Vinton Emergency Operations Plan (EOP)—required to be re-approved every four years by the Virginia Department of Emergency Services. He said that he has made every effort to make the plan more comprehensive and user friendly and has added a quick reference index. The revisions were made so that “any member of town staff could pick up the manual and hit the ground running” in an emergency situation. He thanked Public Works and the Police Department for their assistance with the revisions. Vinton is one of only four towns in Virginia to have an EOP.
Council adopted a resolution approving the 2018-2019 operating budget of the Roanoke Valley Resource Authority in the amount of $12,791,411. Vinton, Roanoke County, Roanoke City, and Salem are the governing bodies of the RVRA and all must approve the budget.
Council also passed a resolution authorizing renewal of the Town of Vinton Employees’ group health insurance coverage with the Local Choice Program for the contract year July 1, 2018 through June 30, 2019. When Local Choice proposed a 12 percent increase in premiums for the coming year, Human Resource Director Donna Collins began holding extensive meetings with groups and individual employees to explain the impact of the rate increases and asked for their input.
As a result, the town will be offering the Key Advantage 250 and Key Advantage 1000 plans with different deductibles but the same prescription and dental costs. As a result, the increases in premiums will be limited to about six percent, split between employer and employee. The average increase in monthly premiums will be approximately $21 for employees and $28 for the town.
Council authorized the town manager to execute a Planning Grant Agreement between the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development and the town for an Urban Housing Rehabilitation Planning Grant in the amount of $30,000 which may lead to greater funding for implementation and construction. No match is required.
Council also adopted a resolution allowing the town manager to execute an agreement between the town and Enterprise Fleet Management for a five-year period to procure vehicles on an “Open-end Lease” on an “as needed” basis. Council was briefed on this program by Finance Director Anne Cantrell at a previous meeting. The town will benefit from piggybacking on a cooperative procurement provision with the City of Norfolk contract which allows the town to receive services at the rate of the larger governing body.
Mayor Grose announced that the town had received an award from the Roanoke County Friends of the Library organization—the first locality to be so recognized.
Thompson reported on a recent meeting with Valley Metro representatives on the continuing issue of routes, increasing costs of the bus service in Vinton, and representation on the Greater Roanoke Transit Company (GRTC). Several council members indicated their support for investigating other options such as the CORTRAN services offered by Roanoke County.
The regular council meeting was followed by a work session on the FY 2018-2019 budget.