Windsor tables public works, discusses taxes

Published 12:04 pm Saturday, December 17, 2016

Windsor’s town council members discussed local taxes at their December meeting on Tuesday and voted unanimously to put plans for a new public works building on hold until their January work session, at which time the town’s various construction projects, including the renovations to the former high school gym, the plans for the new municipal building and the sidewalk plans for Church Street and Shiloh Drive will be prioritized.

The vote came about as a result of what Councilwoman Patty Flemming referred to as “sticker shock” when council heard the revised cost of the proposed building, now estimated to be approximately $738,000.

The initial cost estimate for the proposed 4,000-square-foot pre-engineered metal building was $230,000, but, according to Town Manager Michael Stallings, this estimate was for just the building and did not take into account the substantial site work that would need to be completed before construction can begin.

Stallings said that the location will need significant modifications to meet state and federal storm water management requirements, which the town had been hoping to avoid but now must include in their plans. He added that, minus the cost of the site work, the $230,000 figure is still a fairly accurate estimate for the actual construction costs.

Flemming and Windsor Mayor Carita Richardson both expressed a reluctance to approve any construction projects that the town would be unable to pay for without a tax increase. Several residents of Windsor approached Richardson and Flemming at the Isle of Wight tree lighting ceremony and expressed concerns that the recently approved plans for a new municipal center would result in higher taxes.

“I think people, when they saw the article in the newspaper on the new administration building, they thought it was going to be built this year,” Richardson said. “This council has been very good at not raising taxes. What we’re doing is having the design done and looking at what we need to do for infrastructure. We have money to pay for that. I guarantee you we are going to have the money that we need to do that.

“One of the reasons I ran for mayor was I felt the money was not being spent as efficiently as it could. We’ve been able to save enough money to buy the five acres lot by Farmer’s Bank and the police station. I and all council members as far as I know are not planning on raising taxes.”

Also concerning local taxes, Councilman N. Macon Edwards III informed the council he was continuing to review the Town Code, specifically sections 130 through 142, which concern town taxes. He suggested changing the wording of section 142-03, specifically about vehicle taxes, to read “one vehicle owned.” Edwards also identified a discrepancy in sections 130-12 and 130-32 concerning penalties and interest rates for delinquent taxes, where 130-12 specifies 8 percent interest and 130-32 specifies 10 percent.

He explained that the two rates were for two separate taxes but questioned why the town needed two separate interest rates for delinquents. He also raised questions on the town’s cigarette tax, asking if the town should begin charging a tax on e-cigarettes and why cigars and chewing tobacco weren’t included in the Town Code’s current wording.

Edwards also asked the council whether Town Code section 140-10, which prohibits unnecessary noise in the operation of a motor vehicle and states that vehicles are not supposed to have musical instruments, would make ice cream trucks illegal.

Following the discussion of the Town Code, council chose to keep with the night’s theme of saving money by regrading the existing open ditches for the Church Street and Shiloh Drive sidewalk project, and also instructed Stallings to look into using a material other than concrete, such as asphalt or gravel, to save on additional costs.

The council also voted unanimously to transfer $100,000 from the town’s $500,000 water fund to pay off one or more of the town’s loans.

Toward the end of the meeting, Richardson announced that Dennis Carney, Windsor’s director of planning and zoning, will be leaving the town at the end of the year to assume his new position of Town Manager for the Town of Keysville, which is near Farmville. Carney has served the town of Windsor for six years and eight months. There will also be an election for Windsor’s vice mayor in January, who will serve a two-year term.

The council concluded by voting unanimously to give Christmas bonuses of $200 to all full-time employees of the town and $100 for part-time employees who have been with the town for at least one year, and then moving to go into closed session.