Following months of work, the 2021-22 fiscal year budget for the Town of Pulaski was finally completed Tuesday evening.
Council voted unanimously to approve next fiscal year’s total $15.2 million budget, which goes into effect on July 1.
Included in the total budget is a
-A $9 million general fund spending plan, which includes $127,000 in capital improvement spending.
-A $2.2 million budget for the town’s water fund, which includes $841,000 in capital improvement spending.
-A nearly $4 million budget for the town’s sewer fund, including $160,000 in capital improvements.
Councilmen Greg East, Jamie Radcliffe and Michael Reis all thanked Town Manager Darlene Burcham and town staff for their work on the budget.
“It’s been a long process, but is a job well done,” East said.
Reis noted the “specificity and attention to details” displayed in the budget, adding council members “know where the money is going.”
Burcham in turn thanked the council for its attention during what she called a “difficult budget process.”
“I feel good about the direction we have put to the budget,” she said, adding she is hopeful next year’s budget process will not be as difficult.
Approval of the budget was accompanied by a series of votes to approve ordinances, including:
-Setting the town’s real estate tax rate two cents higher per $100 of assessed value – from 34 cents to 36 cents.
-Increasing the town’s cigarette tax from the current 25 cents per pack to 40 cents to bring the town into line with surrounding jurisdictions including Pulaski County and Dublin.
-Setting the fee for a returned check to $45.
-Amending the Building Permit Fee Schedule to include a Re-Inspection Fee. In the future, there will be no charge for the first and second inspection. However, $20 will be charged for a third inspection and $40 for a fourth.
-Amending the town’s schedule of Planning/Zoning Fees.
-Setting new charges and fees for water and sewer service.
There was also a resolution approved setting miscellaneous charges for the town, including $1.75 service fee for credit card charges and 25 cents per sheet on copies, and new fees for the rental of the Historic Train Station.
Council tabled proposed changes to the town’s schedule of parking violation fines, which Burcham said had not been changed for at least 10 years.
Nearly all the fines were for $5 but will be changed to $25 if approved by council.
Council’s primary concern with the changes Tuesday had to do with wording of the violations, not the fines. Council wanted the wording of some violations made clearer for citizens to understand the violation.
In her manager’s report, Burcham said now that budget work is completed, she and 11 staff members will begin tours to all parts of the town over the next three weeks to identify issues that need to be addressed throughout the community.
“This should be very helpful,” Burcham said. “We all have our routes we go, but this will allow us to get out and see the town in a way we don’t maybe think about.”
Noting it’s “time to start celebrating” as we come out of COVID, Burcham confirmed the town will hold a July 4th parade. The event will be held Saturday, July 3 at 11 a.m. and the town is soliciting participants for the event.
Other special events coming up, she said, include a cruise-in later in the summer, a Pride march on June 26, and Fine Arts Center-sponsored events in Jackson Park.
She noted the town offices will be closed Friday, June 18 for the state observance of Juneteenth.
Virginia is one of 26 states celebrating June 19 as the day slavery was abolished in the U.S.
Burcham said she had met with the police department’s Interim Chief Jill Neice and the department’s sergeants to get a better feel for the needs of the department.
She commended Neice on doing “a marvelous job.”
Burcham said in an effort to “get the community reconnected to the department,” the town will begin recruiting for a Community Relations Officer for the town, which she said would be a civilian position rather than uniformed.
Radcliffe noted he had observed bike patrols out and about and people had commented about seeing them as well. Burcham said there had been more walking patrols as well.
Other items mentioned during the meeting included deer, golf carts and a leaking water tank.
Mayor Shannon Collins said he had gotten more questions about the deer population in town and asked about looking again at using urban archery to address the issue.
Burcham responded that using urban archery is a “double-edged sword,” and public safety people think there are advantages and disadvantages to it.
East noted he recalled from earlier discussion the areas in town where archery would be safe were very limited.
Radcliffe said he had been questioned by a couple Northwood area residents about the use of golf carts in some areas of the town.
Councilman Lane Penn asked if the town had received complaints about a leaking town water tower near the old bowling alley.
He said water is leaking “24-7.”
Burcham responded that the tower will be taken out of service next year through the Brookmont Water project.
“We don’t want to put too much into it when we’re going to be taking it out of service next year,” Burcham said.
By MIKE WILLIAMS, The Patriot