In adopting the fiscal year (FY) 2014 budget on Monday, Kilmarnock Town Council bolstered its financial support of local volunteer firefighters.
On June 17, council members voted 4-2 in favor of passing a total budget of $2,954,462 on the second reading while adding $20,000 in spending.
Councilmembers William Smith and Shawn Donahue objected to the budget, with Donahue voicing his continued opposition to council’s acquisition of the Bay Trust property on 1 North Main St. for the new town hall.
The town will allocate the additional amount to the Kilmarnock Volunteer Fire Department (KVFD) in a new separate line item within the general fund, which council approved 5-1 with Smith opposing.
Smith questioned Straughan’s proposal to create a separate line item for only the fire department without any additional contribution to the Kilmarnock-Lancaster County Volunteer Rescue
“What it sounds like now is we’re giving the fire department $30,000 but there’s nothing in the budget for [EMS],” said Smith.
“That is correct,” Straughan replied. “Nothing for the rescue squad.”
“We’re not giving the rescue squad anything?” asked Smith.
“Not at the moment,” said Straughan.
The new item will feature a total contribution to KVFD of $30,000 with the additional $10,000 coming out of Public Service Support, which was thereby reduced to $5,000.
Last month, members of KVFD made council aware of their increasing expenses to operate the department, including equipment maintenance and insurance. Members requested $20,000 from the town with a 5 percent increase in the contribution each year.
Councilmember Howard Straughan, also chairman of the admin/finance committee, envisioned gradually increasing the town’s contribution to KVFD following FY 2014 until they matched Northumberland County’s yearly allocation of roughly $39,000.
“We certainly ought to be doing as much as Northumberland is for our own fire department,” said Straughan, who earlier noted that town officials concluded they had not supported the fire department, as they should have.
Mayor Raymond Booth agreed.
“I’ve been a little disappointed in the last couple of years that there hadn’t been any allocation at all,” said Booth. “We’re very fortunate to have a volunteer fire department and we absolutely must see that it succeeds.”
Straughan noted that if it weren’t for the volunteer fire department, his fire insurance premiums would be $600 higher than they are presently.
In other business, council discussed moving the Waverly Avenue playground to the Town Centre lot to resolve issues with the actions and language of youth in the area.
“I think every single business person…and now even the residents around the park have put up ‘No Trespassing’ signs to their property,” said Donahue. “Obviously we have a problem we need to address.
“We’re into the fourth year of this and we haven’t corrected the problem yet,” he added.
Donahue favored moving the playground to the Town Centre.
“We’ve got seven acres up there,” he said. “We’ve put the dog park up there [and] we said it’s going to be a nature park, [so] why not put the playground up there?” said Donahue.
Smith, however, questioned whether moving the park would address the problem at-hand.
“All we’re doing is creating the same problem somewhere else in town,” said Smith. “It may not be those [same] business owners, but you’re going to have new business owners who are going to have that problem.”
Vice Mayor Emerson Gravatt proposed posting a notice at the park informing users, particularly the “young adults causing the problem” that the town is considering removing the playground from the current location.
By placing the notice at the park, Gravatt said it was so that the youth would “understand how serious we are and…I’d like to give them the chance to correct the problem themselves.”
Town Manager Tom Saunders agreed to post a sign at the playground that made the public aware of the town’s intent.
Council also approved the purchase of a new pickup truck for Public Works to replace a 1995 service vehicle that has failed. Council voted to purchase the new truck with funds from the FY 2013 budget in the amount of $26,000 or less.
Additionally, Councilmember Rebecca Nunn said the Rappahannock Art League and other businesses, including Steptoes Furniture Store and The Pedestal, would provide furnishings and pictures for the new town hall.
“The community is going to partner with us, and we’re very excited about that,” said Nunn.
Saunders said that as of July, all town meetings will be held in the new building at 1 North Main St.