“ … The ability to not have to rely on a big Mayfair project in the future is going to make you stronger and more stable.”
– Kyle Laux, Davenport and Company
– By Valerie Cury
Kyle Laux with Davenport and Company, the Town’s financial advisor, gave an update on Purcellville’s debt realignment at the October 10 Town Council meeting. The Town refinanced its debt so it could use public/private partnerships to relieve pressure on citizens in pay off millions in debt accumulated during Bob Lazaro’s tenure as Mayor. The Town Council intends to use added revenue obtained from the public/private partnerships to pay off debt without further burdening the taxpayers. This will be especially evident with the sewer system rates, mitigating the need to raise utility rates any more than is necessary. This will also give Parks and Recreation greater flexibility to partner with private companies. Projected yearly utility rate increases will now be significantly lower than the 14 percent proposed (seven percent water, seven percent sewer) by for former Town Manager Rob Lohr.
“We had great success in doing that,” said Laux, referring to getting Purcellville in a position to reduce costs and save taxpayer dollars, adding that, “I think we have landed in a very nice place.” Laux said that with strong management and strong financial policies, “you are thinking in multiyear planning and you are thinking in future fiscal years.” He said that the fund balance levels are really good, and the Town can use that position to pay down debt.
Vice Mayor Nedim Ogelman said that he was very pleased with the debt realignment. “The Town has taken a different direction, a different philosophy, in response to citizens, to not look for additional tap fees as the source of revenue … the biggest national rating firms have come back and given us their stamp of approval, so I am very happy with that … I am also happy with the debt realignment.” Ogelman, referring to a statement in the report said, “Maintenance of a positive utility debt service coverage without reliance on large payments from the developer of a major multi-purpose project, the Mayfair project, would lessen the potential exposure to the Town’s overall financial profile – which would improve credit quality.” Ogelman then asked if that meant that not depending on a single new development – by having the Town’s sources of income diversified, instead – was a way to improve the Town’s credit rating further. Laux’s answer was yes. “What they are saying is the ability to not have to rely on a big Mayfair project in the future is going to make you stronger and more stable,” said Laux.
October 24 Town Council Meeting
Over the past few Town Council meetings, residents from the Country Club neighborhood, on the west end of Town, off of North 33rd Street, have come before Council regarding the cut-through traffic they have been experiencing for a long time. With more than 200 cars and trucks cutting through the small neighborhood in a one-hour period alone, it is just getting worse. Resident Bob Anderson said that the street was not intended as a commuter road. The residents of Country Club said this problem will only get worse with the proposed park and ride at Virginia Regional Transit (109 N. Baily Lane, near where East Hurst Road abuts Route 7). The residents have recommended either closing off access on Main and 33rd Street, closing off access at the sign to Country Club, or using a removable barrier, before the park and ride goes to a vote at the November 14 Council meeting. There will be another meeting with the community, the Town, and VDOT before the next Council meeting.
Said Council Member Ogelman, “I am here to listen to the citizens of this Town. This is my first priority.” He said that the cut-through traffic problem needs to be addressed, and that it is a health, safety, and welfare issue, not a matter of convenience. “We will do our best to alleviate this problem,” he said.
VDOT is concerned that the vehicular traffic would remain on Main Street if access to the neighborhood is cut off. But, said Council Member Karen Jimmerson, “I think it’s interesting that VDOT is concerned about us putting cars on Main Street, where they belong in the first place. Cars shouldn’t be going through a cut-through neighborhood.” Mayor Kwasi Fraser also called for a stakeholders’ meeting with VDOT to work on the three proposed solutions. “The goal is between now and Nov. 14, we have a solution that we are committed to working with,” said Fraser.
On other topics … the Town Council voted to amend the Town zoning ordinance to include zoning enforcement and civil penalties, so that if the zoning administrator receives a complaint, there is a process in place to levy civil financial penalties, as a way to enforce zoning regulations.
Interim Town Manager Alex Vanegas recommended an Operational Audit RFP (Request for Proposal) for efficiency and overall benefit to the Town and staff. Council Member Kelli Grim said that it was time for a health check-up. “This is long overdue. Move forward with it, and bring it to Council,” she said.