A resolution to adopt the budget for fiscal year July 1, 2023, to June 30, 2024, was approved with a 5-1 vote by the town council, with Councilman Henry Showalter voting against approval.
Council member Johana Hicks asked if there would be further discussion to provide funds to the Montgomery Museum and the Wonder Universe Childrens Museum, as a result of the citizens requests. The mayor determined that these requests can be added back to the agenda as new business in the future following the adoption of the budget as currently proposed.
A real estate tax rate of $0.14 per $100 of assessed value was also approved by council in a 5-1 vote for calendar year 2023, with Henry Showalter voting against the tax increase. According to the town meeting agenda, this is an effective tax increase of $0.009197. Personal property tax will remain unchanged for the calendar year 2023, at $0.45 cents per $100 with a vote of 6-0 from council members.
Water and sewer rates will change as a result of a 5-1 vote, with Hicks voting against the proposed rates. The agenda set by town council states that the new rate changes are as follows:
The water rates will be set for inside town limits at $10 for the first 1,000 gallons; $12 for each 1,000 gallons up to 49,999 and $9.00 per 1,000 for each 1,000 increments of 50,000 or more. Outside water rates will be set at 200% of inside rates.
The sewer rates for inside town limits are set at $10 for the first 1,000 gallons; $10.25 for each 1,000 gallons thereafter, no change from previous year. Outside sewer rates will be set at 200% of inside rates.
Garbage and recycling rates will be set at $23 per month per set of carts (one garbage, one recycle can). In the case of outside Town limits, the rate will be 200% of the inside rate.
In other actions by council members, a unanimous vote approved an agreement between the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) and the town of Christiansburg for traffic signal coordination between the two parties.
According to the council’s meeting agenda, the memorandum of agreement (MOA) is a result of the I-81 Corridor Improvement Program which includes Arterial Route Improvements. It addresses detour routes and procedures to respond to highway events. The MOA covers roles and responsibilities between the parties. VDOT has a project to upgrade signal equipment at specific locations within Town to implement this program.
Christiansburg’s Engineering Director, Mike Kelley, presented to council on the proposed agreement.
“The purpose of this agreement with VDOT is to as part of the I-81 Corridor Improvement Plan…if there is an incident on I-81, the agreement allows VDOT and the town to respond to highway incidents. It will strategically identify detour routes during events. It will improve operation of routes by modifying traffic signal timing as needed. It will put in place infrastructure to monitor conditions and make adjustments as necessary and requires upgrading town owned equipment and systems” Kelley said.
Kelley said the upgrades would be at no cost to the town of Christiansburg, with VDOT covering all expenses.
During the citizen comments session of the meeting, Charles Robins spoke to the town council with concern about what they are doing to bring in more affordable housing. Robins had previously reached out to the council and had spoken to the mayor about this need in the community.
“There’s a lot of companies in this country that can come to here that we can set up meetings with,” Robins said.
Robins made note of a new housing development that was recently approved by the town council. He stated that this housing would be affordable for those citizens in the retired age bracket and not for lower income individuals.
In another item on the agenda, Town council member Casey Jenkins made a motion for Christiansburg to continue their involvement with the Montgomery County Blacksburg Christiansburg Tourism Office. To be transparent in his involvement, Jenkins stated that his personal interest in the outcome had been cleared with the removal of the Montgomery Museum of Art and History from their Pepper Street location as of July 1. Jenkins would plan to put this in writing as well the following day.
Council member Johana Hicks felt that the money could be best used in other ways to invest in their own town.
“Over $170,000 a year, it’s a lot of money,” Hicks said.
Jenkins agreed with the level of accountability that the council wishes to hold the tourism office up to, but also asked the council to consider the new passenger rail system coming soon to Christiansburg.
“I cannot see a reality where passenger rail comes to Christiansburg and Christiansburg is not part of the regional agreement and authority for tourism,” Jenkins said.
The council members voted 3-3 on the motion to stay with the tourism office. The mayor broke the tie with his vote of approval to remain a part of the local regional tourism department.
Finally, the council voted unanimously to approve the Housing and Urban Community Development Block Grant 2023 annual action plan.
According to the agenda, the 2023 Annual Action Plan serves as the Town’s grant application to HUD for approximately $130,404 and sets the goals and budgets for the use of funds.
In announcements, Town Manager Randy Wingfield requested to set a public hearing for August 8, 2023. The public hearing would be for 21 proposed townhomes on 2.148 acres on Montgomery Street, between Church Street and Lucas Street.
Wingfield also mentioned Fourth of July festivities will be held downtown in Christiansburg on July 4 from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. and fireworks will begin at 9:15 p.m. at the park area.