June 14th, 2015 – Bowling Green, Virginia
Tonight’s Board of Supervisors meeting was lighter than usual, as we celebrated Fort A.P. Hill’s eighth Army’s Communities of Excellence Award since 2003. Col. David Meyer, commander, shared this award with Caroline County and the Caroline County Board of Supervisors in appreciation for the outstanding relationship and cooperation that exists between the Fort and the County itself. Col. Meyer wanted to share this award before taking leave of his post. 8 excellence awards within 10 years is certainly a record Fort A.P. Hill and Caroline County can all be proud of, though more importantly, we should take pride in the strong bond between the base and our county. As I understand it, this is not always the case.
Next was the unveiling of a new monument recognizing Bowling Green Senior High School (1970-1977) Home of the Mustangs beside the Union High School 1903-1969 monument. Years after Caroline County took over the former school, turning it into the Caroline County Community Services Center, significant effort has gone into using its space to commemorate the rich history that preceded them. Plans are still ongoing to turn the walls inside the building into a museum style tribute to Caroline County history. Alumni of the School and our elected Supervisors took their pictures behind the monument and in front of the new title over-top the entrance.
For an hour, at least, it was part high school reunion, part celebration, part Board of Supervisors Meeting.
Inside the building, Floyd Thomas (Belmont) opened the meeting, with a moment of silence for the one hundred plus killed and wounded in Orlando, Florida, victims all of the most deadly domestic terror attack in our nations’ history.
Mr. Black brought up the importance of addressing trash build up off exits 104 and 110 which are our economic engines in the county, pointing out that we should be presenting a clean appearance.
Caroline County is looking to sign onto a contract with Chesterfield County to turn over delinquent property taxes to a collection agency. The collection agency will add on a 20% fee to what is owed to the county. Once Caroline County has exhausted all possible means of collection, delinquent taxes will be turned over to collections and residents will no longer be able to pay the original amount owed to the county. The only way to settle their debts will be to pay the full amount owed, plus 20% to the collections agency. (If you owe property taxes, ladies and gentlemen, I’d get to writing your checks as soon as possible). This measure was unanimously approved by the board.
Of great concern to the county are several proposed possible High Speed Rail alternatives which could have a devastating effect on residents whose property falls on or within a few hundred feet of the proposed line. Many of our local supervisors, as well as local residents, are highly concerned about the effects such a project (even the consideration of the project) would have on property values in our area.
The Board unanimously approved converting a part time position at the Registrars Office to a full time position. This vote was unanimous. Congratulations to whomever was the beneficiary.
The Port Royal Water System
While I was aware that the town of Port Royal was spending a fortune repairing their antiquated water system, I was surprised to discover this evening that the town had considered selling their water system to Aqua Water. As a Ladysmith resident, I cannot tell you sweet, dear citizens of Port Royal what a bullet you may have dodged tonight. Aqua Water repairs to Ladysmith water systems caused water bills to skyrocket. Supervisor Jeff Black and Delegate Buddy Fowler have spent countless hours working with the folks in Richmond to find a solution to a water company that has plagued Ladysmith with astronomical water prices and fees.
Before the Board of Supervisors tonight was a proposal to essentially co-sign for a loan that would allow the town of Port Royal to retain ownership of its water system, update that system, as well as replacing old water meters. I will be honest, as the discussion began I wasn’t happy about the Board considering to put the county on the hook for potential Port Royal debt. However, if Aqua Water is the alternative, I feel a sense of Christian Duty to spare the residents of Port Royal all the pain and ills that residents in Ladysmith have suffered.
The Mayor of Port Royal plainly stated that there was no reason to believe that Port Royal would not be able to repay these loans on their own. As we know, Port Royal is currently growing. Yes, there is some concern about the sale of Port Royal’s Historic Horne’s Restaurant and Gift Shop to new owners, but the Mayor was assured that the new owners intended to keep their decor, their management staff, and their menu. Port Royal’s most profitable business should remain in good hands. I strongly encourage Port Royal to uphold their end of the bargain and I am confident that they will. This measure was also passed unanimously. That said, the matter is still not ultimately decided, as a final version of the agreement will be adopted down the road, onto which Caroline County will also have to sign.
While it is rarely a good idea for the county to take on fiscal risks for its individual towns, the county must also consider the economic impact of local residents pouring more of their disposable income into higher water prices and fees. We are only taking on a small risk and the town of Port Royal has performed their due diligence in researching all of their options and proving that this is, in fact, a responsible loan.