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September 23, 2017

9/6/2017 2:25:00 PM
County Moves Forward With Joint Radio Project
State Editor

LOW MOOR  — Alleghany County is proceeding with a plan to improve radio communications for police and emergency services personnel.

The board of supervisors on Tuesday night chose a financing option with Bank of America. More firm numbers on the cost of the project are expected within 60 days.

The projected cost now stands at $8.4 million with the county’s share contingent upon negotiations with Covington. The county and city are carrying out the endeavor as a joint project.

Bank of America has agreed to finance the project at 2.48 percent interest over 15 years. The overall cost after 15 years would be just over $10 million after interest is factored in. County Administrator Jon Lanford said tax rates on real estate would be impacted by 2 to 3 cents per $100 of assessed value.

“What we are seeking to do tonight is lock in the rate with Bank of America,” Lanford said. “The annual debt payments will be finalized later.”

The board approved Bank of America to handle the financing for the radios by a 6-1 vote. Sharon District Supervisor Cletus Nicely voted no.

The county has selected Harris Corp. in Lynchburg as the contracting firm for the project.

Lanford said he expects negotiations with Covington to proceed well and be wrapped up with 60 days.

“I think that within the next 60 days, we will be able to pull it all together,” he said.

Lanford said the cost of the radio project has dropped significantly since talks with Covington started two years ago. At that time, county officials estimated that the radio project would impact the tax rate by 6 to 9 cents.

The county is also working with Covington as it updates its comprehensive plan.

The board approved a contract with Benchmark CMR  Inc. of Charlotte, N.C. for consulting services as it works on the comprehensive plan. The cost will be $31,250.

Lanford said the county budgeted $69,000 for the work. But that was before Covington agreed to work in conjunction with the county as it updated its comprehensive plan. Lanford said the county and city will split the cost Benchmark CMR’s work. Covington will also pay $31,250.

“The cost for this work is well under budget,” Lanford said.

He said the agreement between the county and Covington to work jointly on their comprehensive plan may be a first for Virginia.

Implementation of a New Tech learning program in county schools took another step forward Tuesday.

The board of supervisors approved a supplemental appropriation of $388,339 to the school board. The money will be used to lay the groundwork for a New Tech learning program at Alleghany High School.

The $388,339 is money the school board received from the General Assembly for enrollment loss. The one-time appropriation from the state was received earlier this year.

“We already have the money. We are asking for your permission to spend the funds,” Keven Rice, director of finance for Alleghany County schools, said to the supervisors.

The school board decided to implement its own New Tech program at AHS after talks with the Covington School Board about a joint program failed.

“We are already getting started on implementing the early steps of New Tech,” Rice said.

New Tech is designed to provide a variety of programs aimed at getting students ready for the workforce immediately after high school and giving them a head start for careers they might train for in college.

Clifton Forge West Supervisor Richard Shull, a strong proponent of New Tech, told school officials presents for Tuesday night’s meeting, “Congratulations, take the money and run. Put it where it needs to go.”

In other business Tuesday, supervisors:

— Approved an annual performance contract with the Alleghany Highlands Community Services Board.

— Approved a resolution to accept $150,000 in grant funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture-Rural Development.

The money will be use to construct a facility at the Intervale end of the Jackson River Scenic Trail. The facility will house an outfitter.

“The outfitter would operate as a concessionaire, very similar to what you see at Lake Moomaw,” Lanford said.

— Reappointed Harriet Woodward to the Total Action for Progress board of directors.

He new two-year term begins Sept. 8.

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