By Debbie Adams
Vinton Town Council had serious issues to discuss at its meeting on June 1—public hearings on the proposed budget for FY2022, adoption of a new Paid Time Off (PTO) policy for employees, and a resolution adopting the Performance Agreement and Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on the Gish Mill Redevelopment Project. However, the best news of the evening might have been the announcement by Director of Community Programs Chasity Barbour that there will be a Fourth of July celebration in Vinton this year, complete with fireworks at the Vinton War Memorial.
Details on the event will be forthcoming, but those attending the council meeting (via Zoom) were excited to hear the news that more normalcy is returning to the town after many cancellations this past year due to COVID-19.
Barbour also announced a new partnership with Roanoke City with “Ridin’ to the Market.” On Saturday, July 3, shoppers will be able to take a bus from the Vinton Farmers’ Market to downtown Roanoke to shop at its City Market—and vice versa. Buses will run on the hour, from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m.
In other news, Town Council will return to in-person meetings in Council Chambers at the Municipal Building beginning on July 6 and the time of those meetings will switch to 6 p.m. permanently. Council traditionally meets on the first and third Tuesdays and that schedule will continue. Council meetings will continue to be streamed live on Facebook and recorded for on-demand playback on the Town of Vinton website.
Council held a public hearing on appropriating funding for the proposed transition from the current employee leave benefit plan to an employee PTO benefit and adopted a resolution for that purpose. Funding is not to exceed $280,000.
At the direction of Town Council, the administration developed the PTO Policy to replace the town’s existing Vacation and Sick Leave Accrual Policy. Council and the administration did not want to adversely impact any employees transitioning to the new plan and included a payout calculation for any current balance that would cause the employee to exceed the maximum leave limit within the following 13 months.
The draft plan was presented to town employees who were each given three options to choose to transition from the current leave plan to the new PTO plan. Each of the three options will permit town administration to meet the transition objectives while preserving, to the extent possible, the employee’s tenure and service with the town within the new paid leave plan, which takes effect on June 1.
Later in the meeting, council adopted a resolution approving the new PTO Policy as explained by Human Resources and Risk Management Director Donna Collins.
As with virtually all issues that come before Town Council, council members had been briefed thoroughly in previous meetings on the topic before action was taken.
Council held a public hearing on the proposed FY2021/2022 budget. Town Manager Pete Peters noted the proposed budget “represents a balanced budget with an optimistic outlook despite the lingering impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our locality.”
The FY2021/2022 proposed budget for all funds totals $14,179,981: approximately $8 million for the General Fund, $384,800 in the Grant Fund, $4.5 million for the Utility Fund, $835,000 for the Capital Fund, and $414, 328 in the Stormwater Fund. The proposed budget represents an increase of 21.57% ($2.5 million) over the current budget, but that figure is misleading in that the FY21 budget was significantly reduced due to fears over the effect of the pandemic on the economy.
Personnel costs make up 40% of the new budget, followed by operating costs of 27.89%. Sixty percent of general revenue funds go to the Public Safety and Public Works Departments.
The budget includes increases in planning and zoning fees, which have not been adjusted since 2005 and will now be in line with surrounding localities.
Under the proposed budget the town will have 73 budgeted full-time employees, with one added in Planning and Zoning and one in the Finance Department.
Proposed budget highlights include a 1% cost of living adjustment for all employees, implementation of a new classification plan, continuing to offer a free employee health plan, funding the first year of a seven-year Capital Improvement Plan, and continued economic development.
The budget, for the first time in a decade, includes the funding for a Capital Improvement Plan. In FY21-22, those capital projects will include traffic signal improvements at various intersections, ERP software replacement, Gish Mill parking and façade improvements, gateway signs, the Glade Creek 2B grant match, a worksite and work zone safety package, history museum repairs, and body cameras for the Vinton Police.
Finance Director Anne Cantrell told council that the town’s total debt across all funds—General, Utility, and Stormwater—is approximately $12 million. The town has a per capita debt of $1,369—quite an achievement.
Council will take action on the budget at their meeting on June 15. Town Charter requires that a budget be adopted by July 1 for the new fiscal year.
Town Council also adopted a resolution authorizing the town manager to execute a Performance Agreement between the Town of Vinton, the Roanoke County Economic Development Authority (EDA) and Gish Mill Davii, LLC for the Gish Mill Redevelopment Project.
The agreement is valued up to $910,000 over a 10-year period, which is intended to incentivize the redevelopment of the historic Gish Mill property to encourage the mixed-use commercial, residential and retail development.
The financial terms of the agreement include:
- A single lump sum payment at closing for public infrastructure, gateway and parking improvements in the amount of $250,000
- Reimbursement of all permitting and utility connection fees paid to the town by Gish Mill Davii, not to exceed $40,000
- Reimbursement of all building permitting fees paid to the county by the company, not to exceed $20,000
- Five equal payments of $80,000 each year in the initial five years of the agreement
- Five equal payments of $40,000 each year in the last five years of the agreement
- Providing a $468,500 Industrial Redevelopment Loan (IRF)
The performance terms of the agreement include: minimum investment of $2,700,000, creation and maintaining at least 37 new jobs for 10 years, generating and paying at least $40,000 annually in meals taxes to the town for 10 years, and repayment of the IRF loan in full to the town.
Council was briefed on the Performance Agreement at the meeting on May 18; the Roanoke County EDA unanimously approved the Performance Agreement at its meeting on May 19.
Vinton Town Council also adopted a resolution authorizing the town tanager to execute an MOU between the Town and Roanoke County. Roanoke County has agreed to a funding agreement in the form of an MOU to reimburse the town for a portion of the Incentive Grant for Gish Mill in the amount of $40,000, which is to be paid in annual installments over a five-year period.
The installments will be based on the net revenue that the county expects to generate as a result of the redevelopment project. The MOU will also reimburse up to $20,000 of building permit fees paid to the county. The Roanoke County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved the MOU on May 11.
Information on the proposed FY2021-2022 budget is available online at https://www.vintonva.gov/100/Budgets-Reports.