Under New Management

On January 10 Middleburg’s new Town Administrator, Danny Davis, submitted his first official monthly report to a regular meeting of  Middleburg Town Council.  Davis offered high praise for his predecessor, Martha Mason Semmes, whose last “official” day on the job was December 14. “The transition was very smooth,” Davis reported, “and allowed for multiple projects to be completed before she retired.”

High on Davis’s to-do list for January are:  finalizing his first draft budget and CIP for presentation to Council; integrating a new trash and recycling disposal provider; negotiating a new contract with Imboden Environmental Services to keep the Town’s water and sewer services in top shape; and working with the Mayor and Council on “a strategic review of the Town organization to ensure we can accomplish the Council’s goals and continue to perform at a high level”

Money

On January 10 Davis formally submitted a brief, “Fiscal Year 2020 Overview.” He reported that “Overall, the Town is in very strong financial shape.  With revenues outpacing expenditures, the Town is in a strong position to fund one-time projects, build healthy reserves, and prepare for future capital needs.”

Davis is, he said, taking a very conservative approach to revenue projections, a task complicated by recent changes in tax collection administration and timing.

“Total General Fund revenue in 2020 is expected to decrease by $20,000,” he noted, “although when normalizing the Real Property revenue, total General Fund revenues in 2020 actually increased about $230,000.

Modest increases are also projected for income from the Town’s utilities services.

General Fund Expenditures, Davis reported,  “are basically flat year-over-year, “ primarily due to a reduction in capital expenditures.  Personnel costs, including raises, a new “matching” program for deferred compensation, and hiring a new “Project Technician” should increase by roughly $100,000.

A “Capital Improvement Plan,” is still in development.  That said, Davis noted, “Most of the Town’s projects are already anticipated in the current 5-year plan.”

The Council’s new outside-expert volunteer Financial Advisory Committee, according to Mayor Bridge Littleton, should be of great help and has already asked to meet more than once a month.

Davis also reminded Council that it had shifted $3 million of its cash reserve funds into the Virginia Investment Pool, where it earns 2.6% interest rather than the tenths of a percent it was earning earlier.  The fund is stable, he said, liquid, and used by a number of Virginia towns and counties.  That move alone, he said,  should provide some $95,000 in heretofore unanticipated revenue, though he suggested budgeting only a $75,000 change, “in the event interest rates dipped.”

A Council work session on the new budget was set for January 31.

New Waste Management Providers

Waste Management, Inc., Middleburg’s current waste disposal provider, has petitioned the Town to re-assign the contract for those services to Bates Trucking and Trash Removal, a large regional provider headquartered Bladensburg, Maryland.

Bates, in fact, began to provide those services on January 2, 2019, acting as a subcontractor to Waste Management Inc.  The Waste Management Inc. contract with the Town does not expire until June 30, 2020, and the town is under no obligation to reassign it.

Ylrico Alexander, Bates General Manager, appeared at Council’s January 10 Regular Monthly Meeting to describe his company’s capabilities and make the case for re-assigning the contract. Bates, he said, had partnered with Waste Management Inc. on various projects for over 20 years, describing it as family owned and, in effect,  “a local company with national scale resources.”

Though well received, Bate’s request was, in effect, tabled by Council, which expressed its general willingness to re-assign the contract, but only AFTER Bates had proven itself in Middleburg.

Business and
Economic Development

Jamie Gaucher, Middleburg’s Director of Business and Economic Development reported that his department is working on at least 22 “active/current” new business projects.  Among them are seven “Food & Beverage” providers “very interested” in Middleburg.  There are, he also noted, “two strong possibles” looking at the Southern States building.

The department’s “branding” project remains stalled.  Initiated with great enthusiasm, with a budget of more than $100,000, to develop a to develop guidelines for promoting the town to audiences outside its traditional boundaries, the project ground to a halt over dissatisfaction expressed by Council and others within the Town, with four designs for a new logo.  The Richmond, VA, agency subcontracted for the work, according to Gaucher, is putting together a new design team and will re-submit.

Gaucher is also working on a “new business packet” designed to provide business people interested in Middleburg the key information and materials needed to get started on locating here.

New Town Website

Town Clerk Rhonda North, who is also serving as the Project Leader for development of a new website for the Town, reported steady progress.  Most of December, she noted, was spent completing forms for the Town’s subcontractor on the Project, CivicPlus, and “identifying the information they need to assist in their development of a preliminary design”

Police

Police Chief A. J. Panebianco praised his officers for their performance during December, which he described, frankly, as a “rough month” complicated by major events, holidays, vacations, and illnesses.

The department’s two felony arrests, the Chief reported, were related to Fentanyl, an often-abused opioid pain medication.  By spring, he said, Middleburg’s police officers will complete training in the use of NARCAN, a nasal spray variant of the drug naloxone.  The drug has been credited with saving the lives of many overdose victims by blocking opioid receptors and preventing the slowing down of both breathing and heart rates to the point of death.

Historic Structures and
Building Maintenance

One of the keys to maintaining the unique “look and feel” of Middleburg is the set of ordinances governing the “Maintenance of Historic Structures.”

On January 10 Council both clarified and expanded the rules governing historic structures by repealing Article XVII, Part I, Section 245a of the Middleburg Zoning Ordinance.

According to Town Planner and Zoning Administrator Will Moore an ordinance adopted by Council on July 12, 2018, expanded the Town’s ability to set rules governing the maintenance of structures throughout the town. That meant that rules protecting historic structures INSIDE the town’s formal “historic district” could now be applied to historic structures EVERYWHERE in town.

Formally repealing the old ordinance also eliminated duplicative regulations and made clear precisely which laws applied to issues governing the removal, repair, and other maintenance issues under the Town’s authority to protect “public health, safety, and welfare.”

Water Treatment

Imboden Environmental Services reported Well #3’s 17-year-old pump had been “out” for several days, requiring replacement of some pipe and repair of the pump.  The well remained unavailable for use for several days thereafter while the Town waited for required new tests for bacteriological contamination to clear.  The cost of the pipe required for the repair, Imboden reported, has risen from roughly $500 to roughly $1,200 due to the impact of new national tariff policies.